How To Get Back Up When You Get Knocked Down
Easier said than done, right? We all face obstacles, and on occasion we get knocked flat out. Some of us more than others. And some, less often but more deeply.
But what choice do we have? Life is hard a lot of the time. Especially today with the economy being as shaky as it is and our lives seemingly more busy than ever, it’s easy to find yourself in a situation.
However, while life is hard it doesn’t have to be difficult. And it becomes easier when we apply one of the three choices of address, avoid or ignore to quickly bounce back when things don’t go our way.
Image courtesy of felixtsao on Flickr Creative Commons
The last 15 years of my life have been rocky to say the best. I have been outsourced, taken advantage of, nearly downsized, and outright fired (3 times!). Each time it felt more difficult than the last, and a couple nearly wanted to make me just throw it all in and settle. But I didn’t.
Beginning in 2010, I have practiced all of the methods of deep self reflection and planning that I
share through these posts and in my coaching practice. I was lucky that very early on, I uncovered some powerful tactics to kick myself in the rear and get back on track.
1. Address the obstacle
Most times this is the best option, but executed poorly. We have a funny tendency to overestimate either the problem at hand or our ability to manage it. What I mean by that is that more often than not we think the problem is either bigger or smaller than it is. We’re really poor predictors of our own mishaps.
Instead of making a mountain out of a mole hill (or trying to do the opposite), first gather the facts. But don’t try to do it alone, because often when we’re part of the problem we have a tendency to sugar coat our role in it. And by having someone close to us that can see the problem externally, we can safeguard missing crucially important information. So find someone close that you trust to help you gather intel on the problem.
Next, once you have all of the details, consider all of the possible outcomes. The easiest way to do this is through good old fashioned brainstorming. Think of all the outcomes, both the good and bad of your situation.
After completing your list of outcomes, cross out the most unlikely to occur. Feel confident in doing so, as by addressing the problem head on, you’re taking a major step to prevent these from occuring. After all as Benjamin Franklin said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Last, TAKE ACTION! Execute on what you’ve decided to do. Even if it’s not the perfect solution, taking action is better than nothing. Hitting the problem head on early enough fixes a majority of bigger problems later on.
Another useful tactic is to avoid the problem, but again our execution of this tactic is askew. Many of us practice avoidance to remove ourselves from potential pain. After all, our brains are wired to do so. When given the choice to experience pleasure, or avoid pain, we will generally take the avoidance option.
So instead of avoiding a problem once it shows up, take the time to learn where you went wrong the first time. We all know we SHOULD learn from our mistakes, but how many of us actually do? Often, I sure don’t! And while lightning may not strike the same place twice,the same can’t always be said on our problems. So to avoid the majority of challenges later, figure out what went wrong, do your best to correct them and learn your lesson.
In the avoidance process, where we typically make a critical mistake is not being good predictors of our actions. To do so, we really need to practice a sense of presence, and look towards our future in light of our present. Being able to look ahead as to where you are going, forces you into a frame of future thinking.
Think of it this way. If you were traveling to a meeting, and you knew the route you chose is under construction, would you look for another way? Of course you would! So why not try the same for your problems. Look ahead and avoid getting stuck.
Our last option is to ignore the problem all together. There are probably more instances where ignoring a problem does more harm than good, but there are occasionally situations when it’s the very best option.
One example might be if the problem isn’t really a problem at all. If you have a coworker that you have to see on a regular basis, and are not really a fan of their work ethic or demeanor, you have to realize that you’re not going to change them by addressing the issue. More often you’ll create tension or worse create a target for them to attack. So instead, ignore the problem short term, while considering the long term solution to get the heck away!
Another way that ignoring a setback might be the best option is when the uncontrollable or unavoidable issues come up. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on a frustrating day that I couldn’t have really controlled, nor avoided. In reviewing what went wrong, I now realize that I could have changed some of it (like saving my blog post locally!) but a majority I couldn’t.
What I chose to do instead was to refocus my attention on the end result goal, and pretty much ignore the plan and process I had intended to take to get there. Don’t be so rigid in the process that you lose sight of the forest through the trees. If things aren’t going your way, control what you can control and do your best to ignore the rest.
Which one is the best option?
In short, it depends. I know that writing these 985 words won’t solve all of your life problems. But I do know that you’ve got to start somewhere. Some problems are much more threatening than others, however we also have to remember that none of us exists in a vacuum. We are where we are as a result of our actions.
So yeah, life is hard, but it’s not difficult when you intentionally and meaningfully choose to address, avoid or ignore and take action to reach your fulfilled purpose.
The 3 Mistakes You Make When Encountering Setbacks