This is an immutable fact; shit goes wrong, life happens! I’m not here to sugar coat the facts folks. I’m also not saying all situations for all people are the same. What I am saying is life is shit to all of us at some point.
I’m reminded of a quote from Katharine Hepburn. “Life is hard. After all, it kills you.”
I have personally been dealing with life’s happenings recently. This is why this post is such a long time coming. The changing of my employment situation, I am striking out on my own, coupled with a difficult exit from my previous company has thrown me off track. I had to give my notice without a signed contract for the freelance work that would sustain me on my own. The weird thing was I thought I was dealing with it fine. My girlfriend and family all got the standard “I’m good, nothing I can do about it, so best to just carry on, everything will be fine!” Not exactly the best way to think about something as life altering as that. So instead of actually dealing with the smog of uncertainty, I tried to float above it like a blimp over Beijing. This resulted in a few mistakes, some worth mentioning some not, mainly out of embarrassment to be honest.
I didn’t adequately contemplate my situation. According to HealthStatus.com a job loss is one of the Top 5 Stressful Situations to deal with. So why I thought I could float above it like a fart in a perfume factory is beyond me! I didn’t “mourn the loss” or sit with it and give it time to sink in.
Some people get a whiff of the smog and know there is something wrong, they talk about it with family and friends. They get advice, they find solutions not complaints. Others do nothing, they think they can deal with it all on their own, they internalise it. Instead of smelling the smog, feeling the pain and solving it, they sit in it. They slowly breathe in its negativity.
Ignoring a bad situation results in bad practices.
When you don’t feel the pain of a loss and take the time to understand it, it creeps in where you don’t want it to. You get a sudden pang of uncertainty or a stab of self-doubt, and you don’t know where it came from. This breeds self-loathing, and this can be difficult to come back from. We start to believe these things we tell ourselves. They seem to come out of nowhere, like our subconscious is trying to sabotaging us, but they are actually residual fear, anxiety and other standard emotional responses associated with previous events that we have not properly dealt with.
So how do you ensure you can clean up life’s messes when they happen? Bring your broom!
When things seem to be falling apart try not label it that way, we tend to catastrophise events as worse than they are. Your life is not falling apart you are simply going through a career/job change. Having a positive, or at the very least factual, outlook allows for the opportunity to solve the problem. Checking the facts helps us rationalise the situation, it is essential to be in a wise mind (half way between rational and emotional) when making decisions and solving problems. “Oh my god, everything is going to pot now I don’t have job!” will cultivate fear and anxiety, and possibly make you spiral. “I’m good, nothing I can do about it, so best to just carry on, everything will be fine!” doesn’t allow for the possibility that shit might go wrong. You have to be aware of all possible outcomes. Being in a wise mind allows for that.
Stick to your routines and best practices.
This is one of the mistakes I made, I spent time worrying instead of doing all the things I usually do in the mornings to ensure I have all my ammunition ready to wage war on the day. This is especially important when things aren’t going as planned. The emotion attached to the situation can easily allow negativity to creep in so why wouldn’t you do what you can to keep it out and do what needs to be done to get shit done. Having a killer morning routine is vital, it wards off stress and prevents burnout. Follow the link to check out my routine as a guideline to starting your own.
Surround yourself with like-minded people who know more than you do.
Michael Dell (surname rings a bell) says “Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people… or find a different room.”
Surrounding yourself with people who share your interests and are on a path you respect allows you to be infected with their enthusiasm, their focus and techniques. Having people who have done it before you gives you the backup you need whenever a difficult situation arrives. I am personally part of an online mastermind group that meets weekly to discuss what is going on, what we are up to and everything in between. I not only get great advice and insight into what is working for others and might work for me (routines, habits, books etc.) I also get accountability and solace in the fact that there are a bunch of guys with similar goals who are experiencing the same things.
A gentleman understands that life is messy and there are events that are out of their control. He knows that they will not last, and with the right skills and mind-set situations can be re-framed into something that helps. He knows it really is all about the experience not the destination.
Be kind to yourself
DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan.