What to Do When Given an Impossible Task

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August 9, 2014
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August 20, 2014

What to Do When Given an Impossible Task

There are various reasons why you may have been given what you deem an impossible task. In general, there are two or three major reasons as why this is the case:

  • They really want to see you fail
  • There is no other option and you are the right person to pull it off!
  • You might be thinking it is impossible but they know it’s doable.

Either way, these two general points converge at one point: Your definition of an impossibility. Frankly, what you deem impossible might be just an opinion and not a fact. Someone else might be cherishing the opportunity to take the reins you have been given.

Then again, it really might be an impossible task after considering all involved. That is the right place to be. You cannot stamp something with your opinion of impossibility unless you have thoroughly analyzed all the parameters involved.


You have two options when you are given the impossible task: You take it, or you leave it. Whether they want you to fail or not, they will be seriously surprised that you actually considered taking it! Secondly, if you ever did take it and failed, you actually did not fail. You grew a muscle. You did not shrink back. You became courageous. You learnt something:

  • Chances are that you met new people you would never have met otherwise,
  • Chances are that you installed new and powerful habits in your life in order to outgrow the challenge,
  • Chances are that you gained respect of those who charged you with the impossibility regardless of their motivation,
  • Chances are that you will welcome many other ‘failures’ as they will be propelling you to success.
  • Most definitely, you grew to be a much better person than before you took the impossible task.

When you are given an impossible task to do, regardless of the motivation of those who gave you the task, I would advice you to go ahead and take it. The following five things should help you with this impossible task.

  1. Visualize your success:

Sometimes, impossible is a mental block. My point is that there is a lot of energy that is lost when you keep considering this task an impossibility. On the contrary, when you visualize how it would be to actually pull this off, you instantly feel energized. It would be advisable to keep the vision of your conquest in your mind at all times.

Go one step ahead and start talking about the possibility of the task being a success. Focus on this kind of talk. If you would keep talking about how impossible the situation is, you would rather not take it up in the first place. If you have taken the challenge, start talking of how possible it is, may be with additional resources or help. Use your performance with what you have to stake your claim on how possible it is to do it.

Notice that your talk is contagious. If you say that it is impossible, you will create a mental block not only for you, but also for everybody else who is involved in accomplishing the task.

  1. Talk to people:

Sometimes, the heaviness of the impossibility is compounded when you are a loner. Solitude is good sometimes but a complete blackout from people brought about by your feelings of ‘overwhelm’ over this impossible task is not good. It compounds or affirms the impossibility. Talking to people is like ventilating a stuffy room. Fresh air comes in. Odors are dispelled. There are different kinds of people that you must talk to:

  • Your Superiors: Those who gave you this task. There is need for you to engage them to know clearly what they expect from you. You need to give them your plans for taking up the task and enumerate the resources that you need to pull it off. You need to keep informing them of the progress and if necessary, ask for their assistance. Sometimes, these superiors are nobody but yourself, when you are taking something that you deem impossible in your life.
  • Your Peers: Those with whom you share the overall vision. Not everyone in this group is worth talking to, but there are some specific ones who have been championing your success. Chances are that they will provide you with the needed data to unlock what you deem impossible. Chances are that some of them might have faced the same predicament. Talking to them will help you gain confidence and will help to crystallize the vision. You will feel lighter after they help you break down the task.
  • Your Juniors: These are members of your team that are critical to bringing the vision to fruition. Do not talk to them if you still have the failure mentality, for they will catch it like a cold. Once you have gained much confidence, talk to your team members giving them direction, vision and belief in the project. Break it down to them and motivate them to accomplish it. Be firm on what you need.
  • Your Coach/Friends/Loved ones: With these, you share your raw feelings about this task. Talk to them about your fears and apprehensions. They should give you encouragement and support that is crucially needed.
  1. Blue-Print it:

Before you voice your opinion about how impossible it really is, you ought to sit down and analyze the whole task from all possible angles. You need to crack it on paper before you get going. This, of necessity must be the most difficult task, for once it is cracked, the implementation should follow. Do not spend eternity analyzing. Set a goal for doing this. Get started immediately. Gather the information needed. Get counsel. Consult with the people involved. Make bold decisions. Prepare an implementation paper for the task. This is where you begin to sense the possibility of the whole task. You have no business calling the task an impossibility if you have not thought it through.

  1. Give it your very best:

Either that, or you refrain from taking up the task. The fact that it is considered a ‘difficult’ or an impossible task should not let you lose from the word go. Some people count their losses before they get started and then expend less energy and effort in the task. In the end, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Things tend to happen for you when you give in your all. It’s kind of like the Law of giving and receiving. What you get is wholly dependent on what you gave.

Therefore, from the get go, decide that you will give your all and then some into this task. This is the only way to guarantee your winning, whether the project fails or succeeds. You will be a very proud person in the end, whatever the outcome.

  1. Cover your bases:

Deploy all your energies and the resources at hand. If you need more resources, ask. Let it be known that the impossibility is not on your part, you have done all you could do. It is very easy to get frustrated by what you do not have in terms of resources to pull this off. Please know that getting started and having momentum is much more critical than any resources that you could deem required for your impossible task.

In other words, you need to develop a positive and ‘can do’ attitude with your project and get started with what you have. Keep giving feedback to your superiors about what you are experiencing while making justifications for more resources needed. You stand a much better chance to succeed starting with little resources than staying undecided to get started in the beginning wishing for better resources.

  1. Keep on Living:

When faced with a difficult task that you deem impossible, it is easy for the negative vibe of this task to cascade into your life. It is easy for your relationships, confidence and general outlook of life to be negatively impacted.

It is your responsibility at this very crucial moment to keep your life in motion. If you let the ‘impossibility’ mirror into your life, everything becomes a burden. If your life keeps sizzling regardless of the impossible task, you get self motivated. It is easy to pick encouragement and ideas from what you are doing with your life. By no means should you allow your life to hit a stagnant phase on account of an impossible responsibility that is upon you.

Life must go on.

  1. Seek Divine Intervention:

Sometimes you just have to let go and let God. I have been a great champion for action on this blog. Countless times I have gone close to scoffing at the over-reliance on on the hand of the divine. The message is always that as much as we are seeking for the hand of the Divine, for the most part we have not done our own assignments. I would still preach that message anywhere and any day.

However, I am not in anyway indicating that the Divine is useless. I am a firm believer in the Divine. In fact, it is God who said, “With me, nothing is impossible”. A friend of mine posted on his Facebook wall the following eternal words: “God has faith in me to do the possible. He expects me to have faith in Him to do the impossible” 

There you go. The ‘possible’ is in your hands, please do it. Ask God to help you with the impossible.

Question: How have you handled impossible situations in your Life before?