I’ve had a pretty great life so far.
Of course, there were things that weren’t all rainbows and unicorns, like my child who needed medical care for the first few years of her life. There was also the time the company I worked for was acquired, and my lovely job was sold to a big behemoth with values that didn’t match my own. Still, all things considered, I wasn’t prepared for when life comes crashing down and let me be clear, it hasn’t. It’s more like I’ve run into an unexpected kink in a very curvy wire that has gotten me to where I am today.
You may know the feeling.
Things are going well, you travel, enjoy your job and have a partner you love. At times, it may seem a lot like a hamster wheel, but you’re happy enough to keep going, until the day you’re not. Crash.
One day, you’re minding your own business, running on your wheel, and shit happens.
Fall out of love and get divorced.
Lose your job.
Crash your car.
Child gets hurt on the playground.
Biggest contract goes poof.
Find out you need to have a bilateral mastectomy even though you felt healthy, and cancer was the furthest thing from your mind. (Welcome to my kink in my perfect life.)
What to do when your perfect life comes crashing down?
We never anticipate the crash, do we?
It’s not the crash that breaks us; it’s the unwillingness to break the frame and embrace the change instead of rallying so hard against it that you create a forever derailment.
It’s the frame, struggling to keep you and me safe in the comfort of our lives; that makes us want to scream and yell as it’s being pulled apart.
“I don’t want this.”
Who does want it? Um, nobody.
Unfortunately, even through a time of pain, you need to find the strength to take out the hammers and the nails and create a new frame, to ultimately move forward with confidence, competence and creativity once again.
That doesn’t mean you can’t be sad, or feel the loss, or even anger. You can and you should, it’s human.
My wise friend on social media, Christopher Demers (@ChristopherinHR) had a brilliant tweet recently that was truly on the mark and definitely hit home.
Fill your head with #goodness
— christopher demers (@ChristopherinHR) October 5, 2015
That’s what it’s all about. Learning to find the goodness through it all.
Here are three things I want to share with you that I’ve learned about resilience, unexpected change and unwanted crashes in your life:
Learn to love what is, not only what was.
I’m having surgery on Friday, and my body will never look the same, but I will still be me: my body, my brain, my heart, my dreams, my hopes, my fears; me.
We all have scars; some are just outward visible reminders and others cut us so deep in our core we think we’ll never recover. You can, and you will emerge to create a new normal.
Longing for the past can’t bring it back.
Wishing things never changed will not magically give you Harry Potter’s wand.
This is your life, the only one you’ve got, don’t let it all go because it’s not what you imagined or wanted. Learn to love what’s present today. Reread Christopher’s tweet, it may help. The goodness is there for you.
The wrong choice vs the best choice.
There are many times you need to make the best choice you can with the information that’s available. Three years later, when you know more, it may become clear that there was a better choice, an easier path to follow. Quite frankly, who cares?
Making a choice and taking action based on what you know today with confidence is the best choice. Allow yourself to accept that you made the best choice you could instead of beating yourself up with a terrible losing game of “what if?”
The beautiful thing is that change is up to you.
I know people who have gotten divorced and wasted their next decade as bitter, angry, untrusting human beings. I also know women who have had mastectomies and never learned to love their bodies again despite their imperfections. Happily, I also know people who embraced their wounds and transformed.
I don’t know about you, but I love imperfections. They make you raw and real instead of a polished impossible version of perfection that only belongs on TV or in magazines.
Ask yourself: When life changes, will you claw at the past, desperately trying to find a way to get a grip on it before it disappears, or will you open your arms to the future?
PS. Your perfect life hasn’t come crashing down; you’ve just come face to face with a new beginning.
I’m going off the radar for a little while on social media and this blog. It may be two weeks, or it may be closer to four or more, but I’ll be back. When I return, once again I’ll have lessons from everyday leadership to share with you and hopefully spark your personal development.