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  • Tasha Schuh

How Life is Like Putting Together a Puzzle

Doug and I recently took on the challenge of putting together a 1,000 piece puzzle. Keep in mind, that the last time I did a puzzle I was probably 10. I have watched people over the years put together these large puzzles and I am always amazed by their patience, discipline, and determination. The last puzzles that I worked on I probably gave about 10 minutes and if it didn’t come together within that time, I quit. I thought to myself “I do not have time for this!”

When Doug and I were in Rapid City this past fall, he saw a puzzle that he wanted. When we got home, I endeavored to find that puzzle online to buy it for him. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! When he opened it, I made the comment that maybe we could do it together. I thought this was a good idea until I saw him dump out the pieces and then realized my idea was a little premature. Doug saw my hesitation, but thought it would be fun to do it together so we began. We started this on November 17, 2017 and finished it on February 6, 2018. Keep in mind that we probably were only able to work on this about five or six times due to our busy schedule. I couldn’t help noticing as we put the puzzle together how much it paralleled with life. The closer we got to the end the more I realized that I needed to write a blog on this to maybe help encourage some people that maybe are struggling or feel stuck in their life.

The first thing that I saw when it came to working on the puzzle was the need for strategy. At first, Doug and I started in a corner and then went to another section, and so on. My niece Anna stopped over, the puzzle Queen, and the first thing she said was “you have to do the edge first. Find all the edge pieces and find where they go and that will help you immensely.” I shared this with Doug the next time we worked on it and it helped so much!

When I speak, I talk about the need for us to have strategy in our lives. If we wander around hoping that things will fall into place, it rarely will happen. We have to be strategic and set a plan to succeed in life! We have to lay it out in ways that are tangible, achievable, and organized. I found it so true when we were doing this puzzle. So, what’s your strategy? What do you want to achieve and how can you get there? I recommend breaking it down into smaller steps so that it is easier to get there.

The second thing I saw was the importance of teamwork. This puzzle had the 50 presidents with their faces and names on it. When we started out we were working on the same section of the puzzle, and moving on when that section was finished. As the puzzle went on, we each took our own part to work on but that did not always go well. I needed Doug to check the piece to see if it actually fit and in doing so, would sometimes throw him off from the part of the puzzle that he was working on. This was a good lesson in teamwork. As we continued, I got very frustrated at times being that I’m not able to lean forward to look closely at the puzzle. There were so many pieces laid across the table and the thought of them all coming together seemed impossible. Just as I was about to give up, Doug took an evening to just put together the names of the presidents so that we could see where each of them went. After this, I was able to help so much more because I could see the finish in site.

It is so important that we value teamwork in our lives. We cannot do this life alone! I was extremely frustrated with the puzzle, but once I allowed Doug to step in and do a night by himself, it was so much easier. Even though I did not want to admit defeat, I can now see the importance of this in life. When we get frustrated and overwhelmed we may need to let someone else step in to help. This can help us relax, relieve the stress, and still get the mission accomplished.

The third thing I noticed was how hard it was to see the big picture (the possibility of the puzzle coming together), especially in the beginning. There were so many pieces and so many big holes that I could not see us finishing this. Isn’t life like that sometimes? I don’t know about you, but I have times in life where I wonder how things will work out. Where I question how I will make it through a certain time or experience. The more we worked on the puzzle the more I saw how everything fell into place. There were so many times when I looked at the puzzle and was sure that the piece I needed was not in the pile of pieces. However, we always ended up finding the piece that we needed. I quickly learned that if I took a piece of the puzzle, laid it on my hand so I could bring it closer to my face, I could easily see where this went. I got quicker and quicker and Doug will attest that I got cockier and cockier as I was finding where these pieces went. ;-)

In life, it’s easy to see the big picture when you’re closer to the solution. In the early stages of planning a project, and also in difficulty, it can be hard to see the big picture… The fact that everything will come together. This causes us to want to quit and give up on our dreams and the things we want to accomplish. I want to encourage you today to not let these times of frustration stop you! Be determined to continue on and make it through to the end. I know one thing for sure… The next puzzle I do, I will not let that time where I felt overwhelmed, stop me. Promise me that you will do the same in life!

These are the things that I saw that paralleled life and putting together a puzzle. What parallels do you see?

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