In these trying times, it’s easy to feel lost. We’ve been locked up in our homes, lost jobs, witnessed a senseless killing that awakened the nation with subsequent protests that were hijacked by bad actors who sought out violence and mayhem. It looks like the billionaires, such as Jeff Bezos, got richer and the rest of us were left poorer, confused, anxious and fearful.
When you’re panicked and afraid, it’s the worst time to make important decisions, as you’re acting on raw emotions. The odds are high that any impulsive move could be self-defeating, if it wasn’t clearly and rationally thought out in a calm and deliberate manner. If you find yourself adrift and becoming increasingly agitated, angry and scared, here’s what you need to do right now to gain back control and build your future.
Take stock of your life.
Are you happy? Are you doing what you really want to with your job, career and life? If the answer is an emphatic or about a 60% “no,” then you have to start considering making changes.
Here’s a tip to start. Draw a Venn diagram. In the circles write what you’re good at, the things that you most enjoy doing and the likelihood that you could earn a reasonable living from the work. The intersection of the three circles can give you a starting point of the direction you should take next.
Please avoid falling into the following traps of believing:
- “I’m too old to start over.”
- “It’s too difficult to begin a new career.”
- “Now’s not the right time; I’ll start (insert an arbitrary date in the future).”
If you’re unhappy or in need of a change, now’s the time to actualize your full potential. Think of your life up until this moment as the prelude to your actual story. You’ve learned, and now it’s your moment to take bold actions and maximize all of the time you have ahead of you.
Change your outlook.
This won’t be easy. The world is a cruel and hard place. You will need mental and emotional armor to make things work. Think of the serenity quote, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” You can’t control everything that’s going on, but you can take responsibility for how you view things and formulate a response.
For instance, you can view the events of the Covid-19 pandemic that caused an economic and job-loss crisis, which arguably helped ignite our collective anger as an excuse to say that everything is rigged and messed up. You’ll use that as an excuse to throw up your hands and give up trying. An alternatively productive strategy is to focus on becoming the best version of yourself, despite what’s going on around you.
Life is all about what happens to us and the manner in which we decide to respond to it. If you don’t like something, make a change. If you’re unable to alter the situation, change the way you think about it. You don’t want to be held captive to what everyone else is doing. Find opportunities in the midst of problems and chaos. Block out all of the noise and commotion. Stay alert while others give up.
Take bold, assertive action.
Think deeply about what you really want in your career and your life too. It’s helpful to focus on a purpose—something that has intrinsic meaning to you.
Let’s say you’re a tax accountant and make a fine living, but you’re unhappy helping wealthy people find tax loopholes. Think of how you can take your skills, background and education and unleash them in a manner that will make you feel fulfilled. When you are guided by a purpose larger than yourself, you develop the power and internal strength to take on all of the challenges in your way. It’s like a superpower guiding you to success.
If you really want to do something, you’ll always find a way. Conversely, if you don’t have the burning desire to follow your dreams, passions and goals, you’ll always come up with a bunch of excuses. You have the ability to choose the life you want. No one else is going to do it for you.
Keep trying and don’t give up.
Go relentlessly after your goals. Expect to fail, as you pursue your visions and dreams. Success is all about trying. You’ll go from one failure to another, but don’t lose faith. Most people fail spectacularly before they reach success. You can’t let what’s currently going on crush your dreams and aspirations. Just because things look bleak, it doesn’t mean that you should give up hope. View yourself as a valiant warrior championing your goals and ambitions. You need to fight through the chaos and anarchy—not succumb to it.
Take the lead in your life and as Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you keep your eyes open, you’ll notice that difficult times offer interesting opportunities. It’s not enough to merely wish for something to happen; you have to actually make it happen.
As you pursue your destiny, there will be roadblocks, dumb mistakes and misfortunes. You’re best off trying, making mistakes and learning from them, as opposed to not doing anything at all. Failure is a prerequisite for great success. If you want to succeed faster, keep trying and failing, as you’ll eventually stumble upon the key to unlocking your potential.
Make sure you’re surrounded by supportive people.
Before you blame yourself and say that you’re depressed or lack self-esteem, make sure that it’s not your network of friends and family that are bringing you down. Find allies who are supportive and encouraging. Surround yourself with positive people. Avoid negative folks who want to bring you down to their level of misery. Be comfortable with who you are. Feel free to say what you feel and believe. The people who are offended don’t don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.
Engage in aggressive positivity.
When you wake up each morning, you have two choices—you can either be positive or negative. You might as well go with the positive option, as it doesn’t cost anything more and will yield far better returns.
Try being optimistic, as it puts you in a good mood. People will notice. Your manager and co-workers prefer to be around and work with those who have good attitudes. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you think and act positively, people pick up on it and reward you for the behavior. This improves your career and life, which in turn makes you feel even more positive and happier.
If you can’t summon up the strength to stay positive, at least try not to come across too negative. It alienates all of the people around you. You won’t get the promotion or be asked to collaborate on high-profile projects with others. This will make you more negative and you’ll start sliding down the slippery slope.
It’s not easy to get through tough times. If you change your outlook, take bold assertive actions, keep trying and don’t give up, surround yourself with supportive people and engage in aggressive positivity, you’ll have the necessary tools to succeed in attaining whatever you want.