Episode 91

How to Stay Focused When the World Is In Chaos

Published on: 15th January, 2024

Faithful on the Clock is a podcast with the mission of getting your work and faith aligned. We want you to understand Who you're serving and why so you can get more joy and legacy from every minute spent on the clock. Thanks for joining us and taking this step toward a more fulfilling job and relationship with God!

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In this episode...

How to Stay Focused When the World Is In Chaos


Episode 91 of Faithful on the Clock acknowledges the chaotic state of the world. We’ll look at how to stay focused even when surrounded by global or local turmoil.


[00:04] - Intro

[00:36] - The importance of acknowledging how chaotic the world is

[02:25] - Tip #1: Make a list of your top 3 to 5 issues so you can look into more specific coping strategies for those issues.

[04:12] - Tip #2: Legitimize and own the issues you identify. Don’t let others convince you the issues are not important. Yet, zoom out enough that you’re sure the issue is as concerning as you believe it is.

[07:08] - Tip #3: Find some way to take action on the issues you’re struggling with. People tend to be more negatively impacted psychologically when they cannot take action.

[08:57] - Tip #4: Come up with if-then statements for the most likely scenarios with the issue you have (create some contingency plans). But also acknowledge that, because you are in God’s image and can tap His power, you have the strength to address things in the moment.

[10:46] - Tip #5: Stay in the present moment. Worry only about the one immediate thing you have to do and do that to the best of your ability, rather than worrying about the entire journey for your project or other tasks.

[13:30] - Tip #6: Set aside specific time to focus on the larger issues that are bothering you so they don’t mentally show up when you don’t want them to. Acknowledge when you might not be able to compartmentalize and be willing to take a break in those moments.

[15:12] - Tip #7: See the chaos of the world and your work as independent issues. The inherent goodness and value of your work are still present even when other problems crop up.

[16:31] - Tip #8: Limit social media consumption so you have control over whether you are in the mental state to take in information from different platforms.

[17:00] - Encouragement to reach out for yourself and others

[17:33] - Prayer

[18:13] - Outro/What’s coming up next

Key takeaways:

  • The chaos of the world presents a large emotional and mental load for workers which should not be brushed under the rug. Acknowledging that turmoil can help us get better results and feel better as we work.
  • Tip #1 — Make a list of the issues that are the most stressful for you so you know where to put your time, energy, and resources. Connect each issue to the values you feel are being violated so you can be clear in your communication about why you are upset.
  • Tip #2 — Legitimize your identified issues. Others might try to gaslight you into believing they are not important concerns, but your feelings and thoughts are real. As a leader, use your emotional intelligence to be sensitive to the issues upsetting individuals on your team. Do not compare your worry to anyone else’s through this process.
  • Tip #3 — Take action on your issues in some way, such as through volunteering, to regain a sense of autonomy and control.
  • Tip #4 — Come up with some if-then statements that will help you handle the most likely scenarios around your issues. But acknowledge that you have the ability to pivot and handle anything you can’t predict, thanks to God and His strength.
  • Tip #5 — Stay in the moment, focusing only on your immediate task. This strategy will help you from getting overwhelmed with the work to do as other big issues add to your worry.
  • Tip #6 — Set aside specific time to address the issues you have so you have a chance to give those issues your full, undivided attention. This strategy can help stop your brain from bringing the issues up at less inopportune moments.
  • Tip # 7 — See your work and the chaos of the world independently and remember that your work, which was valuable yesterday, is still valuable today, even though a big issue might also deserve attention. Keep good boundaries and avoid letting others convince you that the big issues they worry about need to be the issues you worry about.
  • Tip #8 — Be intentional about news and social media consumption so you can be in the proper mental state to handle what you learn or are exposed to well.


  • Select the news outlets or platforms you will use as you try to cope. Set up specific times to engage with those platforms, rather than letting alerts drive you.

What’s coming up next:

Many companies are outsourcing to save money. Episode 92 questions when this is an ethical practice and guides workers and leaders through handling the outsourcing experience.

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Well, hi, again, all my beautiful people. I’m Wanda Thibodeaux, your host, and today you are listening for 10 to 15 minutes to Faithful on the Clock, the podcast where every tunnel the mole digs brings you closer to getting your faith and work aligned. On today’s show, it’s a little bit more of a serious topic, because we’re looking at all the chaos in the world and how to keep working well through all of it. I know some of you are right in the middle of that, so let’s get started.


So, I want to start out by pointing out that, you know, we’ve just kicked off 2024. It’s a brand new year, so I’m in that space where I’m pretty optimistic. You know, I have that traditional sense where it feels like I can get some really good things done. But last year, if I’m gonna be honest, I think a lot of us would say the only way to describe it is that it was a dumpster fire. And unfortunately, I think maybe we’ve had a few of those fires in a row now when you think about coming out of the pandemic and all of that. You know, no matter where you stand politically, there was the war in Ukraine, then the war in Gaza and Israel. We still don’t have this whole climate thing figured out. People are still struggling with inflation costs, just trying to buy food and pay rent, and then of course, there are tons of people who are getting laid off or are switching jobs because of layoffs or AI or all kinds of company decisions, right? So, can we just start off the show by acknowledging all of that? Because I really do think that all of that carries an enormous mental and emotional load. And I think if we’re dismissive of that, if we just take this toxic positivity attitude and try to pretend like those things aren’t hurting us, I think that’s really damaging. Because as any psychologist is gonna tell you, you can’t deal with things you don’t acknowledge, right? If you pretend like it’s not messing with you, there’s always gonna be this anxiety there underneath the surface, this stress. And that’s gonna affect you in just about every area of your life, including your work. So, I really do think, especially in cultures like ours here in the United States, we have to be better about being honest about what our circumstances are, you know, what we’re feeling and going through, because it really does influence both the results we get and the wellbeing we have overall.


So, the first thing I want to recommend is that, when we look at all of this, it is a lot, right? But I think all of us are gonna have some issues that are more frustrating or sad or stressful than others. So, for example, if you’re out in California and you’ve watched fires consume homes out where you are, maybe you’ve even had to move because that threat was literally on your doorstep, then an issue like climate change is gonna be front of mind for you. And so I would encourage you to make a list of just, kind of, you know, maybe the top 3 to 5 issues that are keeping you up at night, that are distracting you when you try to work. Because sometimes the anxiety we have when there are a lot of problems can just feel so nebulous, like it’s just this weird mass of stuff that we can’t really get a grip on. So, when you identify what the biggest issues are for you personally, that can feel really empowering. Because, can you change everything? Probably not. But at least you can name the source of your stress. And when you can name it, then you can start looking into more specific strategies to cope with those issues, right? You can concentrate your resources and your effort toward those things, rather than being paralyzed by complete overwhelm. So, that’s the first thing, is just identify what is causing you to struggle. And your values connect to that in a really deep way. Because a lot of the time, if you’re overwhelmed by something, it’s because you believe something is getting violated. So when you make this list, be clear about what the issues are disrupting for you in terms of what you stand or hope for. And you need to be able to understand that to be able to verbalize it to others and ask for help.


Then secondly, I really want you to legitimize and own the issues you’ve identified. Because I can tell you, you are absolutely gonna have people who gaslight you and tell you that those issues don’t matter, that they aren’t a big deal. You know, maybe you’re not in Gaza, you’re not under bombardment every day, right? Maybe your office is super comfortable because you’ve got air conditioning in the summer, so climate change seems like this made-up thing to people. So, people might talk to you and be like, why in the world do you care? Like, why is that stressing you out? And so I want you to understand, if you’ve got someone who’s opposed to you like that, you might not be able to convince them that there’s really a problem, because people don’t like to be told that they are wrong or that they don’t know. So, there’s value in trying to help them see your perspective. That’s good. But if they won’t listen, I want you to really trust what you know and what you feel, OK? Don’t let anybody take that from you. It is real. So, I don’t want you to minimize any of it, all right? That’s the big point I wanna drive home. Now, that said, sometimes we think things are a big deal and we see them as bigger monsters than they are because we just don’t have perspective. Right? We’re human. We’re gonna miss things. We don’t always have all the data. So don’t minimize it. But make sure you’re zooming out enough that you really understand the problem and where it comes from. And from the leadership perspective, you know, we know there’s often a perception gap in the way leaders see things and the way workers see things. And when we talk about emotional intelligence, it is so important that you don’t come onto the floor with your team and just steamroll everything they feel and think. People simply are not going to feel safe or trust you if you dismiss what they’re going through, OK? So, you have to be sensitive to that. You’ve gotta be observant and give people the opportunity to talk about things, because not only is it more loving to try to understand your neighbor, but if they’re distracted by those big feelings, they’re not gonna do their best work. And in a general sense, I don’t want us to be comparing ourselves to anybody else. It’s really easy if nobody in your office has been through what you’ve been through to start thinking maybe your experience doesn’t matter. But it does, and I’d just really caution you against devaluing what’s happening to you. You know, the Bible, Psalm 56:8 doesn’t say God counts your tears only if everybody else is crying, too. It just says He records and keeps track of them. And so you need to know that He’s paying attention directly to you, even when other people don’t quite get it, and actually, I’d say especially when other people don’t quite get it, that’s when God’s at His best for you.


But once you know what your issues are, once you’ve got a grasp of why they really are a big deal for you, I’m gonna assume here that you go to God in prayer. You cast your anxieties on Him and you trust that He’s bigger than whatever’s going on. You trust that He’s going to rescue you out of it in one way or another even if you can’t see what that way is. But from an everyday standpoint, there are other strategies that can help ground you. And I think the first thing I think is really effective is to find some way to take action on the issues you’re struggling with. Maybe that’s, you know, you go volunteer. Maybe you go get a book from your library so you can learn more about the history or science of the problem. Or maybe you go to your boss or your team and you say, “Hey, this is an issue I feel deeply about. Could we start a group that meets after work about it, or could we set up some kind of event in the community together?” But you’re learning and advocating, and the reason this is so important is, they’ve done studies now connected to trauma, and what they’ve found is, what makes people feel stressed or stuck with something is if they can’t take action on it. So, if you can’t do anything, that’s going to probably have some negative consequences on you. It’s gonna make you feel just hopeless and powerless. So, if you can find a way to do something, even if it feels, you know, like it’s a small thing, go take that step. Because then you are in forward movement. You’re participating rather than just sitting there waiting for disaster to strike. And that’s really critical when you think about just maintaining some sense of control. We can’t control everything. But when we take control over the things that we can, there’s something about that process that gives us back our sense of agency and keeps us from getting desperate.


Now, connected to this idea of action, I want you to come up with one or two if-then statements around the most likely scenarios with the issues you have. So, for example, you might say, “If my company downsizes my department, then I will…x.” You know, whatever your plan is. So, I don’t want you to catastrophize down the alphabet, alright? But I want you to have just a few contingency plans in your head or set up. Because then again, it feels less out of control. You know you can do something. And as professionals, I think we’re pretty good at that. That’s just par for the course when it comes to risk management and all that, isn’t it? But as part of this, I want you to deliberately acknowledge that, because God is with you and you’re in His image, you absolutely have the strength to address things in the moment. You can’t know the future. Only God knows that. But you can trust in your ability to meet that future head-on and get through it with His help, right? See, the one thing I’ve had to learn the hard way is that there are only so many contingency plans you can make. Anybody who’s watched news headlines or watched stock charts knows that and how quickly things can change from what you thought was going to happen. So, at some point, after you’ve addressed the most likely scenarios, you gotta just hand it to Him. You gotta just remember where you came from and tell yourself, “You know what? I can be flexible. I have the capacity to learn and adapt and do things differently, and that’s a gift from God that’s gonna get me through no matter where this issue goes.” And when you can trust in that ability to problem-solve in real time, that’s gonna massively improve your confidence.


So, then that leads me to the next thing, which is, make sure you are staying in the present moment. And I’m not talking here about, you know, meditation or gratitude journaling or any of that. Those are good things, and I’m not saying don’t do them. But what I mean about staying in the present moment is that, a lot of the time, when there’s a big issue, it’s so big it just consumes us. We don’t even know where to start because we just feel so small next to it, even if we’ve got a few steps we can take. And then on top of that, work projects can be huge all by themselves, too. So, now what you’ve got is these really big things happening in parallel, right? So, what I’m gonna ask you to do is, forget the big journey of what you’ve gotta do in your job for a second, because when you combine it with all the other stuff you’re carrying it can be too much. So, you know, let’s say you’ve gotta move 18 tons of rock. Well, can you carry 18 tons of rock in one go? Probably not. But can you pick up one rock and carry that? Sure, you can. So, you might know that there are 18 points in the project left and that it’s gonna take six months to wrap up. But you don’t have to do 18 points today. You don’t have to worry about six months in one day. All you’ve gotta do is make your call today, or you get that report printed and emailed, or whatever the immediate task is. And you just focus on that. Nothing else. Because remember, that whole idea of worrying not adding time to your life Jesus talks about in Luke 12, it’s true. It’s not gonna help you to worry. But what you can do is do the job God gave you for today. So think about Joshua going around the city of Jericho. I like that story a lot. He went around the city seven times in a day. Then he stopped. You know, he didn’t do more than that. He wasn’t like, “Oh, I’d better go around and pad this a little bit just in case.” And the next day, he did another set like God told him to. And he just persisted that way. He got up every day and focused on the one thing he could do, and at the end of it, well, you know, the walls of Jericho crumbled for him the way God told him they would. Now, you might not know when the walls of your issue are gonna crumble. And that’s hard. I’m not gonna lie there. But whatever it is that’s on the agenda for today, you just tackle that and ask yourself if that’s the best work you can do on it. That’s all you’ve gotta do, because I promise you, time is gonna pass on its own. The best we can do is just follow God in it.


Now, if you focus on your immediate tasks, that doesn’t make the big issue outside of work go away, right? Like, doing that spreadsheet doesn’t solve world hunger. So, you need to remember that all of those feelings and thoughts about that big issue, they’re still there. You haven’t really resolved them. So, you have to make sure that you’re setting some time aside to put them front and center. We can’t just bury it all and expect to feel better. And this is just compartmentalization. We take the issue and we acknowledge it. We say, yeah, that’s a doozy. But you give it a specific time and place to be dealt with. And then you pull it out when you can give it your full attention. Because otherwise, what happens? Your brain is trying to solve it in the middle of your meeting, or your brain keeps getting distracted with it every time someone asks you to handle something. The only way to ensure it’s not gonna pop up when you don’t want it to pop up is to ensure that, when it’s appropriate, you’re giving it that undivided attention. Now, I will concede that there are times when maybe that issue gets so big, you know, you just need to take a break. As an American, I can tell you, when 9/11 happened, everybody in the entire country stopped. There was no way any of us could compartmentalize that. So, even though we can’t just drop everything at the office every single day on a whim, you do have to acknowledge what your limits are. There has to be some conversations about it, and I think we need to be compassionate enough when someone is really struggling to give them a little breathing room, and to ask for it when you need it. And it’s really important to understand that everybody’s tolerance level is different within that.


Next, see your work and the chaos of the world as independent issues. If your company or career aspiration mattered yesterday, that doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t matter today just because something else is going on in the world. You know, if it was inherently good yesterday, it’s inherently good today, too. And I think sometimes when there’s something big happening, we do comparisons, right? We start to say, well, because of this other big thing, I have to suddenly not care about this work that’s been important to me or that has real purpose. And that’s not the case. You can still care about good work, and in fact, I think when you have something like that to work for, something that can ground you, it can keep you from feeling like everything is just, you know, Dorothy’s giant tornado. You have this small chunk of your life that is still constant. And don’t make a mistake, OK? Sometimes it can take a whole lot of courage to get up every day and live a simple life someone else doesn’t want you to live. There’s a quiet resistance in that, to say that you don’t have to let someone else’s big issue become your big issue. So, like I talked about in Episode 86, right, we gotta have good boundaries. You gotta be able to know what’s yours to take on and what isn’t.


My last tip for you is, you know, limit your social media and news outlet consumption. I’m not saying don’t use these, OK? I want you to stay informed. But the idea is, be intentional. You decide when to take in the headlines. You decide when to read about what’s going on so that, when you do log on, you’re in a mental state where you can really think and make good decisions about what you’re exposed to and learn.


So, that’s the episode for today, everybody. And to close out, I just wanna encourage us all, you know, we don’t live in an easy world. There really is a lot of stuff going on. So I’m just gonna ask you to reach out and pay attention. You know, if you need prayer on something, if there’s something weighing on you in the world, or if you see somebody who seems to be taking something that’s going on pretty hard, would you just reach out? You don’t have to carry this stuff alone, and it’s part of our service as Christians that we help those around us.


With that being said, let’s take a moment to pray.

Lord, You know the world is not healthy right now. And there are a lot of people who are just so worried, people who are convinced that it’s all a sign that You’ve got Your back to us. And Lord, I can’t know what Your timing is going to be, but I do know that You’re with us no matter what shape the world is in. So until You do come back, Lord, I pray that we can take strength in that, in knowing that You’ve got it under control for us. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


That’s a wrap, folks, as they say in show business. I’ll leave you there, but before I do, I just want to invite you all to visit faithfulontheclock.captivate.fm. That’s our main podcast website, and if you haven’t done it already, would you please subscribe to the show? That really helps me stay connected, and I also want to invite you to take part in our weekly Challenge Me Monday Bible studies. I give you a scripture verse and a challenge to go with it, and then on Thursday evening, we meet over Zoom to have some fellowship. Those challenge videos are always featured on my LinkedIn profile, so I’ll leave a link to that in the show notes. Next episode, we’ll be chatting about something that’s a little controversial, which is outsourcing. When should companies do it, and when should they back off? And what do you do if you find out your company is gonna outsource? Join me for that, and until then, be blessed.

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Faithful on the Clock
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
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Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.

Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.