Handling the Unexpected
A man is called into his boss’s office where he is ceremoniously told his 17 years with the company are much appreciated, but his employment is coming to an end due to a reduction in force.
A girl is called out of her 7th-grade science class so her mom can share the news that her dad was killed by a drunk driver on his way to work that morning.
A seasoned professional who is reaping the rewards of his career success gets the results of his recent medical tests, and he doesn’t get the news he was hoping for.
A young woman in her first year of college reads the + sign on her pregnancy test.
What do all of these people have in common? They’ve all found themselves in a situation they never would have chosen. And they all have a choice in how they handle it.
Choice is the Common Denominator in Every Situation
The people described in the unfortunate scenarios above have a choice: each one has the option of blaming their circumstance for why they don’t achieve what they want in life, or they can decide that the circumstance won’t define who they are, and so they keep plugging along.
The latter choice is really all about perseverance and passion—or grit as Angela Duckworth calls it in her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. At its core, grit is about what goes through our heads when we fall down in life and how the thoughts we have can push us through even the most unfortunate circumstances.
Developing Grit—Choose Happiness
Developing more grit may seem overwhelming, but if we don’t at least give it a shot, that goes against the very nature of what grit is! Here are three easy steps to get us there:
Procrastination—even if it’s occasional—is a bad habit for many of us. Self-discipline is all about taking small, consistent actions in an effort to form habits that eventually get us to the goals we’ve set for ourselves. When life is knocking us down, self-discipline is what picks us up and helps us get to the finish line.
Concentrate on wins.
Every coaching session I lead begins with my client telling me about her wins for the week. All around us we hear and read about natural disasters, violence, and hatred. The constant barrage of negative events and thoughts trains our brains to start to think this is all there is. Instead, I encourage my clients (and myself) to focus on what’s going well. What amazing things are happening that will motivate us to achieve greater levels of happiness and success?
Sure, it doesn’t erase the bad things in the world. But it helps us to balance our worldview, our thoughts, and our actions.
Nurture your purpose.
Being an adult is hard. Very hard. And it becomes quite easy to hop on the hamster wheel of life. Wake up. Go to work. Drive home. Make dinner. Help with homework. Prepare for tomorrow. Go to bed. Repeat.
It’s time to hop off that wheel. Time to think about what it is that lights you up, that mission you have, your purpose in life. When we take the time to focus on what it is that ‘fills our bucket’ of motivation, it becomes easier to say goodbye to the hamster wheel of life and say hello to the roller coaster of life instead.
“You are not the effect of your external life. You are the cause of your external life.” Brooke Castillo, co-founder of The Life Coach School
Every day of our lives, we get to choose to be either the effect or the cause of our external life. This choice is what is within our power to control, even when everything else seems completely uncontrollable.
I can’t tell you what happened to all four people described at the beginning of this post, but I can tell you the young woman who saw the + sign on her pregnancy test didn’t let that circumstance define who she would be. She went on to earn her bachelor’s and then master’s degrees. She married the father of that baby, and together they were blessed with two more babies. Married 32 years, they now have five grandkids, and that woman is enjoying her career so much she never feels like it’s work. She and I are one and the same. And without a doubt, I know I am the cause of this wonderful life I’ve created.
What effect are you going to create in your life?