My theme for February has been overcoming challenges. I’ve written several articles covering some common challenges we often face. How to deal with job loss. How to stop being a slave to technology for better work-life balance. How to manage your emotions at work.
There is some evidence to show that there are 7 life challenges that many of us will face at some point in our lives. While human nature dictates pain avoidance as much as possible, sometimes we have no choice but to face these challenges head on.
Ask anyone who has gone through a major life challenge what they would have done differently, and many will say “I would have prepared better”. Not just from a practical point of view, but emotionally. However, we’re not taught life skills at school (something that I still can’t get my head around). So how prepared we can be for life’s challenges will ultimately be limited. Most people face life’s challenges with no previous experience, knowledge or know-how. Making it almost impossible for them to be prepared.
We can never predict what will happen in our lives. And we might not be able to predict how we initially react to what happens. We might assume that we will be calm. But when it does happen, we fall to pieces. Which could be completely out of character. The subconscious mind works in mysterious ways.
As Anthony Robbins says, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Meaning we can’t avoid pain. But we do have control over how we suffer. We get to choose how long we replay the video of the event over and over again in our minds. Torturing ourselves with thoughts such as “What if?” and “If only I had done that differently.”
When something happens, all we can do is learn from it. That’s it. We can’t change the past. But we can control how we act and what decisions we make in the future. So when a life challenge happens again – we can respond to it rather than react.
Here are some practical tips to help prepare you for life’s top 7 challenges:
1) Feeling stuck
Whether that’s stuck in a job you hate. A relationship in which you feel completely alone. Or between a rock and a hard place. We’ve all been there.
If you’re feeling stuck, chances are you’ve lost sight of your values. The things that are most important to you in life. You’ve chosen a career or relationship for the wrong reasons. Or maybe made a choice out of fear rather than inspiration. And now you’re too scared to leave – because the perceived pain of the ‘unknown’ is greater than the pain you’re in right now.
I’ve said this before. Of course, any change is hard. But the pain of staying stuck is a thousand times more painful than taking any step to improve your life. “Life is not always going to be a bed of roses. And sometimes we have to do things we perceive as painful or difficult. But if you can adopt a mindset of focusing on the long-term gain, instead of the short-term pain, success will be yours for the taking”.
The first step to getting unstuck is to get clear on your values. What are the things most important to you in life, and or/your career. Then you need to think of ways to align your life and/or career to your values. What can you do to experience more of these in your current situation? What changes can you make? What do you have control over? If you’re missing love in your relationship, how can you be more loving? If you’re lacking recognition at work, how can you make yourself more visible? Do you need to seek the guidance of a professional relationship coach or career coach to help you get unstuck?
If you come to the conclusion no change you make will make a difference, then the only other option is leaving. And I’m not talking dramatic leaving. I mean considered, well-thought out, responsible leaving – respectful to all parties involved. Responsible leaving might even mean staying until you are in a better financial position to leave. Consider all of your options. Make a plan that will reduce fear and stress as much as possible. And then remember to focus on the long-term gain of your actions moving forward.
For more advice and practical tips on how to get unstuck, these articles will help. Some of them might be written within a given context, but the principles are the same:
2) Being made redundant
As someone who has been made redundant, this is a life challenge close to home. My previous article tells my story and the valuable lessons learnt from losing my job. If you’ve just been made redundant, read it. The feedback is it’s quite inspirational.
And if you haven’t lost your job – read it. You never know what is around the corner. I was arrogant enough to think it would never happen to me. And it did. Make no mistake – if you are working for someone else, your job is under threat at all times. And the lessons I learnt could help you if you ever face this particular life challenge.
You will find the article here: http://zetayarwood.com/redundant-best-thing/
3) Financial crisis
A friend of mine called me recently in financial crisis. He had AED 100k ($30k) in payments to be made by April – with zero money to pay them. He felt trapped in a corner and the stress of the situation was blocking his ability to see the wood for the trees.
We sat down and looked at all of his debt. We analysed what were the “must be paid”, “what can be let go of” and “what can be negotiated”. What came up in the process was the pressure he felt to keep making these payments because he was scared of what others would think. Ego was at play. And naturally so. Most people would react in the same way. But when you are in survival mode, decisions made from ego – made from fear of what people will think – will only lead to even greater pain later on.
In reality, nobody cares about your ‘failures’. They’ve got their own lives, challenges and problems to contend with. I mean, how much time do you spend thinking about other people’s lives? Or are you mostly in your own head trying to survive your own? It’s the same for them.
Let go of these thoughts that people will judge you for making sacrifices. And if you lose some people along the way, that’s OK. Because it’s the people who matter who will still be there in the end.
Look at your finances. What can you let go of. Where can you save money. What can be negotiated or restructured. Ask for help. Yes, you might have to go back and live with your parents. But it’s not permanent. Everything is only ever temporary. You will get back on your feet eventually. The issue is, if you don’t consider moving back with your parents as an option, or ask for help, your situation won’t change. Or it will get worse. Be brave. Let go of your ego. Reach out. Ask for help and advice where you can. And hold onto the mantra, ‘This too shall pass”.
For some this might be the loss of a job. A house. A car. A good salary. In this situation, the lesson here is one of letting go of attachment.
Our jobs, our homes, our cars and our salaries do not make us who we are. They do not define us. We define ourselves. Through our actions. Our decisions. How we treat others. Facing life’s challenges head on with courage and determination says more about us as a person than our bank balance. The only attachment you should ever have is to your self-respect. Making decisions and taking actions true to who you are – not who you think you should be – is the key to a happy and successful life.
For others, this might be the loss of a loved one. Either through their passing, a break-up or divorce. Or the end of a friendship. Dealing with the loss of a person in our lives is imminent. We can’t avoid it. And many of us have already experienced it.
In terms of dealing with it – this is a fairly individualistic experience. You have to figure out the right way for you. But what I can tell you is this. Until you can shift from a place of loss or injustice to a place of gratitude for what that person brought into your life – you will continue experience loss and injustice.
For some, believing that person has gone back to ‘source’ where we all end up eventually, allows them to find peace. For others it’s believing they are with God. Research has shown that people with such belief systems process death and loss more easily. Approaching death with an appreciation that the people in our lives are not ours to get attached to in the first place. They are their own individual spirit on their own journey. And we simply get to experience them for part of our lives – before it’s time for them to move on.
For some this might be hard to swallow. But you have a choice. You could continue to choose to believe something that causes you significant pain and suffering. Or you could choose to believe something that will help ease your suffering so you can move on with your life.
For more information on how to deal with loss, please read my article here. There is a section on how to deal with bereavement and loss:
5) Being a good parent / role model
Some of us might be parents. Some not. Some might be aunts and uncles. Or grandparents. Or teachers.
Ultimately, we will all experience being a role model at some point in our lives. Whether that’s at home or work. And this can be a significant challenge. Trying to teach others how to manage ‘life’ when we often struggle ourselves is by no means easy.
We are responsible for raising the next generation. Being a good role model in front of a child or young adult – whether yours or someone else’s – is crucial to the success and happiness of that generation. And to the future of our world as we know it.
My previous article http://zetayarwood.com/7-parenting-habits-happy-children/ offers some tips on how to be a good role model to raise happy and successful children.
6) Work-life balance / time management
Not having enough time. Feeling like we’re being pulled in all directions. Not knowing how to prioritise. This can lead to high levels of stress and can have disastrous effects on the relationships in our lives – personal and professional.
Again – part of this comes down to getting clarity on your values. If you were experiencing all the things that were important to you in your life, would it matter where you physically spent your time?
Simplify things. Delegate where possible. Ask for help where you can. Use all of the resources available to you to help you. Friends, neighbours, co-workers, spouses. And learn how to say no.
For some more practical tips on how to gain better work-life balance and higher levels of productivity, these articles could help:
7) Poor health
In our 20’s and 30’s we think we’re invincible. We believe we will never be touched by ill-health. Then all of a sudden you’re in the doctors office being told you have cancer. Or heart disease. Or diabetes.
When it comes to health, the best cure is preventative. Take steps starting today to gain control of your health. Visit a nutritionist. Get a personal trainer. Join an exercise class or club. Get a medical. Your health is the foundation of everything. Without it – your quality of life, and length of life, are in jeopardy. Stop taking your health for granted and make it your number one priority. Starting now.
What other major life challenges have you gone through? Please feel free to share your comments and advice below.
To find out more about how to deal with life’s challenges, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ww.zetayarwood.com
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About the Author
Zeta Yarwood is recognised as a leading Career Coach and NLP Life Coach in Dubai, helping individuals across the world to achieve success in all areas of their lives. With a degree in Psychology and over 10 years’ experience in coaching, management and recruitment – working for multinational companies and award-winning recruitment firms – Zeta is an expert in unlocking human potential. Passionate about helping people discover their strengths, talents and motivation, Zeta lives to inspire others to dream big and create the life and career they really want.