Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-air
In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And all shooting some b-ball outside of the school
When a couple of guys, they were up to no good
Started making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
And said “You’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel-air”
Adversity. It’s just a fancy word for “shit hitting the fan.” But no matter who you are, you will face adversity in life. It sucks. I’ve faced my share of adversity during my life (specific examples to be shared at later dates). But regardless of what the specific adversity you run into, I’ve found a formula that can teach you how to deal with adversity.
Before I begin, let’s be clear, this is the formula that I’ve found to be successful. I’m sure there’s a bit of Kubler-Ross’ 5 Stages of Grief mixed in here, but that’s not the basis of my advice. Mine is more one part emotional, one part pragmatic.
Step 1: Accept The Depression
Depression doesn’t have to be a nasty word. We all feel depressed at times and that’s ok. When you deal with adversity you’re going to feel sad. Allow yourself feel sad! Mourn your loss and give yourself time to process what just happened.
How long you feel depressed will be contingent on the severity of your adversity. Losing your job vs. losing a client will require different mourning periods. For some small bouts of adversity, I allow myself a night off from work. For bigger events, I might give myself 72 hours. That’s me. It could be longer/shorter for you. The point being is, accept your sadness, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Step 2: Process The Situation
While you accept the depression and take some time off, start to process the situation at hand. At first you’re going to feel shock and numbness. My first reaction is to brush it off and try to figure out what to do. But the reality is, this is probably the worst thing I could do.
When I take time off, I try and do non-work related activities that don’t require me to think about anything related to what just happened. I often lose myself in movies or books. By escaping mentally, I’m calming down my emotions, which will allow me to be more rational later on. DO NOT under any circumstances make any important decisions during this time. Your judgment is clouded. Spend this time bringing yourself back to normal.
*Bonus tip: Do something that makes you feel like you’re in control. When things in my life seem out of control, I clean. I hate cleaning, but when I clean, I feel in control. I feel like order is being created. Scrubbing dirty dishes and vacuuming really clears my mind.
Step 3: Make a List
I love making lists. I do this on a daily basis. But the list I make after a big set back is a little different than my day-to-day list. I simply write down things I need to do or want to do. There’s no order or level of importance. And it doesn’t have to be work related either. If you have to take out the garbage or buy apples, put that down on your list.
Making a list helps me decrease the clutter in my mind. Getting it all down on paper eases the temporary mental burden. You’ll start to feel more relaxed and one step closer to getting back on the horse.
Step 4: Devise a Plan
Now that you’ve calmed yourself, processed the situation, and written down things you need to do, start creating a plan. What’s your strategy to overcome your adversity? On your To-Do list, what needs to be taken care of now and what is going to take longer than 30 seconds to complete?
The reason why I add simple things like “Buy milk” on my to-do list is because it’s an easy win. Get milk and cross it off your list. It feels good. Crossing a few of these tasks off your list will help you get the blood flowing and allow you to really conquer the bigger issues. And that’s what this 4-Step process is about…getting you mentally prepared to overcome the recent adversity.
Use this plan as a loose blueprint. Everyone is different. Your problems will vary is severity as will the variables surrounding your situation. But I’ve overcome firings, eviction notices, legal notices, breakups, and much more with this plan. This isn’t something I read in a psychology book that I’m regurgitating back to you. This is exactly what I do when I face adversity.
If you’re dealing with some type of adversity, feel free to reach out to me. My email is jesse at prepare dot io. While I can’t solve all your problems, I can lend an empathetic ear and offer some advice. You’re never alone in this world.