No one can handle everything all the time. Whether it's assistance with a specific task or emotional support, there's no shame in asking for help when you need it.
Recognize When You Need Help
The first step to solving any problem is to recognize that it exists. Many people avoid asking for help because they fear it will make them look weak or incompetent or because they don't want to risk feeling indebted to the person who lends them a hand. However, everyone needs help at some point.
There are several signs that you should reach out for some much-needed assistance:
- You are stuck in a rut or simply unclear on how to proceed.
- You don't have all the knowledge or skills needed to complete the task successfully.
- Your deadline is approaching more quickly than you expected.
- Your emotions are intense enough that you are losing focus or becoming irritable.
Change the Way You Manage Your Time
A busy calendar is not always a bad thing. The occasional harrowing week or season can even make you more thankful for the downtime you get to enjoy after it's over. There's a difference between having a busy week every once in a while and being constantly overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list with no breaks, though.
If you notice that every day and evening for the foreseeable future has something planned, you may need to adjust your time management strategies. Just because there is a space for something on the calendar does not automatically mean that you will have the mental or emotional bandwidth to do it, especially if it happens at the end of a long, busy day. Having a couple of free nights a week gives you a chance to recharge or the opportunity to enjoy something fun and spontaneous with friends. Reexamine your priorities so that you are only scheduling things you really want or need to do.
Be Honest With Yourself and Others
Asking for help requires a certain measure of humility. It may be tempting to protect your ego by skirting around the truth, but in the long run, it's better to just be open about why and what you need help with. You don't have to tell someone your life story or make excuses; just be clear and direct about what you need and what you are asking of them.
Focusing on honesty also prevents you from asking the wrong way. When you're feeling desperate, it may be tempting to use guilt or other types of social pressure to manipulate people into helping you out. Remember, however, that most people want to be helpful if they can. Using a negative request style not only robs them of the joy of helping enthusiastically by turning it into an obligation, but it also can damage the positive rapport you've already built with them.
Fight the Urge To Control the Process
Sometimes, people don't ask for help because they are afraid they will lose control of the situation and thus the outcome. To be fair, this is a realistic risk assessment. Other people have their own ways of doing things, and it's reasonable to expect that if they volunteer their help, at least some of the work they do will be on their own terms.
If they are gracious enough to help you, though, the appropriate response is gratitude, not micromanagement. As long as they are aware of the final goal you are trying to achieve, it ultimately doesn't really matter how they get there. Adjusting your own fears and expectations can help you be more open to accepting the help you need with grace.
Learning to recognize and ask for help when you need it is a skill it sometimes takes a lifetime to build. The more you do it, though, the better you'll get at it.