There are so many people in my life at the moment (professional and personal) for whom life as they know it has capsized in an instant. They’re suddenly faced with situations they’re totally unprepared for. None of their frames of reference fit any more; all their tried and tested strategies and expectations are suddenly obsolete; their values and beliefs shaken to the core.
How do you keep your balance when something cataclysmic suddenly forces you into a new reality?
And why is it so important to keep your balance? Because when you unconsciously allow yourself to be consumed by the problem, you spiral into the stress response—and can no longer see the “exit” signs. Even if you see them, your energies are so scattered and depleted that you’re unable to take advantage of the opportunities that beckon.
Sudden massive change can be very stressful and disorientating. But inherent in these supremely challenging experiences is an invitation to zoom out, get your life back into perspective, adjust your belief frames, assess the situation and formulate a new strategy to suit a new set of circumstances.
If you can foster this level of objective evaluation and resilience, you can turn these tipping points into a launching pad for the future.
But sometimes, when it comes to the recipe for “a successful life” we’re a bit like a dog when you throw a Frisbee for him to catch. He gallops off obediently at full speed, over, under and around obstacles, leaping like an Olympic athlete into the air, straining, twisting and lunging in an all out effort to catch it; collapsing in a panting, heaving heap, tongue hanging out after this heroic performance.
If the game changes and you pretend to throw it but hide it behind your back instead, he repeats this strategy, but is confused and disorientated (not to mention exhausted) when there is no Frisbee. Here’s the thing—instinctively he does what he’s done so many times before—because he’s been conditioned to.
The point is that your measure of a successful life is a totally individual and situational thing.
Your successes are someone elses failures—and vice versa. A success in one situation or at a certain time can be a failure in a different situation or at a different time. The concept of success is constantly shape shifting.
The good news is that you get to choose how you define it, to suit your needs at this moment. You get to measure it against your own unique yardstick, and adjust it as and when necessary. You can get creative!
Life is fascinating, messy, mercurial, unpredictable, unfathomable, joyful, rewarding and sometimes painful.
There is no one-size-fits-all operating manual. The technological explosion has multiplied our tribe many times. Expanding it beyond belief and making it a lot more complex and contradictory. Authority figures of every kind—family, business, social, political, and spiritual all preach a different gospel of “success” at any given time. It’s easy to lose sight of who we are or what works for us—right now.
Like a dog chasing a Frisbee, our ability to be resilient is sometimes stunted by our conditioning.
So how can we equip ourselves for life’s tipping points?
- Know yourself intimately—what works for you and what doesn’t, regardless of anyone else’s opinions.
- Change your priority filters as and when necessary. Life is constantly evolving—so you need to be too
- Look beyond the catastrophe to the opportunity
- Evaluate objectively—don’t allow your emotions to distort or magnify an issue
- Value, grow, nurture and reach out to your support team. Don’t try to do it alone. There are always more people than you think sharing a similar experience
- Put your wellbeing first—nurture your mental, emotional and physical health, so you stay in tip top condition to meet the challenges
- Embrace change. It’s inevitable. Why waste energy resisting the inevitable?
- Foster healthy levels of humility. Be brutally honest with yourself instead of hiding behind socially acceptable excuses
- Commit to a life of resilience—start out in a new direction—again and again if necessary
- Risk failure—you will get wiser, and more confident each time
- Admit when a strategy has passed it’s sell-by date, and be willing to learn a new strategy
- Re-evaluate and calibrate your goals regularly
- Celebrate everything you get right—it builds confidence and momentum
- Life may suck sometimes but you don’t have to let it suck the life out of you. Look for the opportunities in every situation.
- Appreciate what you have—it liberates you from the misery of “not enough” syndrome
- Practice staying fluid and flexible—change your perception filters when necessary
- Don’t let negative feelings suck you into the quick sands of desperation—read the messages they come to deliver and turn them into positive action
- Practice seeing things from other people’s perspectives, instead of rigidly clinging to your own
- Question the validity of your beliefs and perceptions. Just like computer programs they need updating from time to time
- Know that like white water rafting, “the rapids” ultimately give way to calm waters
Too often when we fall down metaphorically in some area of our lives we focus on the fall; viewing it as evidence of our inadequacies in every sphere of life.
What if we focus instead on what we can learn from the fall; refine our strategy, or choose a different route, or even a different destination?
At times like this if we were to view a graph of our lives in their entirety—career, finances, health and relationships it would clearly illustrate that nobody makes equal progress in all areas simultaneously. Maybe right now your relationships are a source of great joy while your career is in a shambles. Maybe your finances are in fine shape but your health needs attention.
If we identify and celebrate where we are successful; where we have made admirable progress, it provides the momentum for getting the areas that are lagging back on track. Recognizing all our wins raises our sense of self value and self trust—and this is the place of power.
With our self value and self trust intact our stocks on the cosmic stock exchange leap—and we can dig ourselves out of the deepest hole.
It is also good to remember that the areas we may be struggling in right now will one day provide a valuable platform for helping others who are standing at that tipping point, confused and disorientated. Our triumphs are visual proof that there is a way out of the maze.
Our willingness to accept and embrace what is allows us to reclaim our power when we most need it. Rejecting change and clinging desperately to what was just keeps us stuck and powerless.
When we learn to listen to our own inner compass it frees us from the shackles of powerlessness.
When we know and trust ourselves we instinctively know when to bend and when to stand strong; when to lean in and when to let go; when to push through and when to be still and assess the best way forward; when to speak up and when to listen. Being resilient makes you mighty beyond measure!
What life changers have you experienced and how have they changed you?
Please add a comment below.