WHAT TO DO WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU ROTTEN LEMONS …
It was supposed to be our regular Friday lunch together. We’d been doing it for years. Because we each had strengths and weaknesses that the other did not, we sort of considered each other mentors, able to advise the other whenever we hit an unfamiliar hurdle. Nothing ever earth-shattering or life-changing, but we served as good sounding boards for each other and it helped as we worked upward in our corporate struggles.
The past months, however, had been mostly fun lunches. Neither of us had experienced any real problems we needed counsel for and so the lighter side of our friendship had the opportunity to grow. We truly looked forward to our end of the week updates as an oasis from the hustle and bustle of high-stakes business.
But last Friday, I was taken aback by my visibly shaken friend as he sat down at our table. Gone was his usual smile and confidence and in its place was confusion and fear.
“Are you okay, Steve?” I asked, genuinely concerned for him.
“No, I’m not,” he said. “I’ve just been downsized out of my job and I don’t know what to do. What do I do? I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Our usual lunch hour became three hours. And while I did offer the usual reassurances, I tried mostly to be a great listener. Nonetheless, he left still shaken and afraid, although slightly less so. We agreed to meet Monday morning for coffee.
I thought a lot about what I could say when again we meet. The internet is laden with thousands of tips and websites full of advice, and I’m sure Steve will do more than his share of searching for “what to do.”
So for all the “Steves” out there who find themselves without bearing, lost in the sandstorm of a life turned upside down by circumstances beyond their control, I respectfully offer the following:
First. Be Still and Breathe. Too many times, when people face a crisis they become frantic and when that happens, the ability to think clearly and powerfully becomes dulled. They focus too much on the problem and the possible solutions become lost in muddled worries. Stop. Do nothing. Breathe deeply. Allow clarity to re-assert itself in your life.
Second. Be Grateful. Yes, I know. It’s hard to feel grateful when life has just kicked you hard in the gut and laid you on your back, but do it anyway. Your circumstances notwithstanding, you have much to be grateful for. Figure out what it is, big or small, and acknowledge it. There is something powerful that happens when we practice appreciation for the people, places and things in our life.
Third. Write Out A Plan. Assess and evaluate what you have and what you need. Do this as un-emotionally as possible. Gather your information, count the cost and put together the best written plan you can for going forward.
Fourth. Listen Wisely. Seek the counsel of individuals you respect and whose wisdom has shown their advice to be fruitful. You can find such individuals in real life, in books or tapes/CDs/MP3s/DVDs/etc.
Fifth. Laugh. Tha-a-at’s right. Laugh. It’s good for the soul. It’s good for the body. It’s good for the mind. It’s good for your family and friends to hear you laugh. Laughter truly is good medicine and can lighten a burden more than you may initially think.
Sixth. Move. The last thing you want to do is become immobile. Move your body. Move your mind. Move your plan. Inactivity breeds stagnation, worry and depression. Activity leads to strength, confidence and success.
Seventh. Rest. At the end of the day, as at the beginning, you want to be still and breathe. Allow what went right to restore you and be grateful for it. Allow what went wrong to pass from you. The day is done, so be done with the day.