Work The Problem

50 years ago this month, the Apollo 13 crew was in a devastating situation and had to use a lot of problem solving to get home, which they did successfully. It's a great movie, if you haven't seen it. Another movie, this one fictional, called The Martian, finds Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, stranded alone on Mars. It's a little bit how we feel now in our Coronavirus isolation.

In the movie, Mark Watney says, “At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

So we need to solve the problem, and then the next, and the next.

Each of us has been affected by this in different ways. We’re all dealing with isolation and anxiety. Some have health issues themselves or among friends and family. Even more have dealt with economic factors. The list goes on and on.

It’s hard, and while we see a lot of uplifting posts and see people who appear to be managing just fine, we may not be. There is no playbook for this. We’re all in the same boat and we’re all trying to figure it out together.

So, here we are on a Monday, of a new month, faced with at least another month of this ahead of us (or more). What are we to do if we’re exhausted, defeated, and down? I’ll tell you what I’ve done when I ran out of ideas…wine, crawling back into bed, watching a movie as a distraction, walking the dogs.  All of these are fine, but like Groundhog Day (can you tell I’m a movie buff?!), we wake up the next day and the problems are still there. That’s when we’ve got to work the problem. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Talk about it – find someone to be your sounding board and tell them what you’re up against – (Thank you to mine – you know who you are). Video chat is ideal because you feel more connection than just chat or voice calling. If you need someone to be your sounding board, let me know…I’m here for you.
  1. Brainstorm a new solution – get a blank sheet of paper and jot down some new ways you can solve for it. Don’t limit it to “why you can’t” at this point…just brainstorm new ideas. (For those that saw the movie, Mark Watney came up with cutting a hole in his suit and flying around like IronMan in space – so think big!) You can also brainstorm with your sounding board – happy to help here as well.
  1. Do ONE THING towards solving that problem. Focus all of your energy in making progress around that one problem. If you do that, the day is productive…and you’ll likely be inspired to keep it going the next day and the next.

Let’s get to work.


The Martian movie is produced by Scott Free Productions, Kinberg Genre, TSG Entertainment, and distributed by 20th Century Fox.


  • Love this so much. Just what I needed today. One step forward is one less I may need to take to find my way to the light. Thanks for sharing. <3

    Valerie Smiley
  • Love this Lissa, great advice. Taking your lead to do one thing today to solve the problem.

    I am a movie buff too. One of those scenes I love that spurs me on is from A League of Their Own. I see you already nodding…but it’s not the no crying in baseball line…it’s the exchange between Dottie and Jimmy near the end of the movie. Dottie says she quitting baseball because it’s just too hard. Jimmy’s response is so inspirational to me. “if it weren’t hard everyone would be doing it…the hard is what makes it great!” Hang in there. This is a season.


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