As successful entrepreneurs we can run really hot. Like a promising ICO, the graph of our life takes off. Shooting up, we head to the stars, racing and growing faster than ever before. Then, after a few weeks, seemingly without warning, we crash. Straight down into the red we fall. Maybe we find ourselves crying and feeling like a hopeless failure. Perhaps we step one foot out the door, ready to take only a backpack and leave everyone and everything all behind. Whatever our different flight instincts, we feel the same way: lost and confused. Overwhelmed with possibility, all thoughts lead to fear of making the wrong choice. Everything feels incredibly detached.
Of course, what we aren’t seeing during these times is the big picture. Obviously, it’s not sustainable to run with such an exorbitant growth rate forever. But that doesn’t seem to stop us from expecting that we will. The thing is, this line of thinking sets us up for guaranteed failure. We’ve predicted that our pace ought to double or even triple, because hey, now that we have the hang of things we should be doing even more, right? Growing faster and faster and faster, ya?
Are you feeling the pressure mounting just as you read this?
Into the red we fall…
This volatility we experience is a trade-off for the extraordinary growth we seek. A life without highs and lows is like stagnant market. Without the highs and lows, risks and rewards, life isn’t very extraordinary. Soon though, our trust and faith in the process start to waiver. The peaks and valleys now become so extreme that even an extraordinary life doesn’t seem worth the emotional slingshot between pure faith and hopeless despair. Maybe we crave our favorite carbs or our big ol’ house with a big ol’ couch.
Though our comfort cravings may differ, we agree we’re going the same place we’ve already gotten in life: nowhere.
Now maybe we fully believe we’ve gotten (and are going) nowhere, but hopefully we’re able to sense that’s a lie. Truth is, we’ve already lived more lives than we ever thought we would. Go-getters, risk-takers, location-independent nomads, we’re all living the lives of our dreams. Daily we’re turning the pages of an extraordinary life.
So why then why does that sometimes feel so far from the truth? And when we do feel like this is there anything we can do to push our momentum forward again?
Yes there is, actually. So glad you asked.
If we want to bounce back from our deep lows and convert these week-long slumps into short (if maybe still painful) flash-crashes then we need to be comfortable with having made a mistake. We need to feel at ease in the face of rejection and we need to exercise patience.
And to get through all that we’re going to need to build resiliency, starting with these steps below.
Here’s my Step-by-Step Checklist to Surviving Life’s Flash Crashes:
1 ) First, adopt the phrase “I need a minute to collect myself.” Make it your new best friend.
During the lows we may act increasingly needy. Fear, uncertainty and doubt bounce around inside of us. Our environment, then, begins to reflect that doubt. Soon, we can hardly complete the simple task of making a meal without feeling like it’s a life-altering decision that is going horribly wrong. Decision-making fatigue has set in and our internal compass is exhausted. We revert to old ways, looking outside ourselves for the answers. Teeming with indecision, yet paradoxically controlling or micro-managing everything we come across. The best things we can do during these times are to resist the urge to ask for help, to resist the urge to offer help, and to turn inward instead. What we seek isn’t anywhere but right inside of us, but that doesn’t mean the answer will make itself obvious right away. The suggestion to lie down with our eyes closed may seem impossible when our minds are racing with all that needs “to be done,” but the trick to finding the answers is doing just that.
Take time so intuition can speak. Be still so intuition can be heard.
2 ) Then, playing music, lie down on your back with eyes closed.
Looking inward now, ask “Who do I want to be?” Take the time to create that person. Connect with that person. What does their future look like in the 12 Areas of Balance that are shared below? Design that life. Write it down, draw it out, commit to it. Pausing to connect with the person we want to be reminds us of why we put in the effort. Apathy fades and motivation creeps in as we fill our minds with visions of the person we want to be.
The 12 Areas of Balance: Love Relationships, Friendships, Adventures, Environment, Health & Fitness, Intellectual Life, Skills, Spiritual Life, Career, Creative Life, Community Life.
3 ) After you’ve connected to the Future You, accept that this life doesn’t all have to happen today.
Everything we want, everything we’re going after, it doesn’t all have to happen this month, or even this year. Breathing lighter and freer, we remember that the ride is what makes life beautiful. If we rush the process, we miss out on the journey. An anecdote by Woody Allen has always stuck with me. As he tells it, once he became famous he missed the challenge of the hunt. He says that everything before he ‘made it’ was his favorite part. I love this story and recall it at times when I need a reminder to not rush the process of my idea of success.
4 ) Now, reflect on your recent past.
In which areas were you seeking growth a month ago? Have those things become easier? How about the highlights you showcased on social media three years ago? How much have you improved since then? If you’re having trouble remembering all that you do, congratulations. You likely live a rich and full life. But if you can’t remember where you’ve come from, you’re likely going to struggle with where you’re going. Don’t worry, the many benefits of journaling can help. My favorite way to reflect is scrolling my own Facebook feed. Looking back at the highlights of my past allows me to smile at how far I’ve come. Writing, sketching, posting and scrolling….discover whichever way is best for you, and then stick with it because reflection produces happiness in the now. When we’re happy in the now we also experience gratitude, compassion and forgiveness.
5 ) Then, expand your self-forgiveness and carry it on to others.
Forgiving yourself or others may seem hard to do. We may have learned not to forgive until an apology is received and so without really thinking about it we fill ourselves with grudges that aren’t really serving us. We may hold on to how annoying our partner’s maddening habits are. We may let it get to us what a bitch the waitress was. These grudges can masquerade as something more satisfying than forgiveness, but in truth forgiveness is far more rewarding.
Look, the more we forgive the more we spike our alpha brain waves. The more we spike our alpha brain waves the more creative we feel. The happier we are. The less we stress. Forgiveness allows for chemical processes to happen in the brain so that we manage anxiety better. Forgiveness even reduces discomfort and pain. So forgive everyone and everything. You can forgive emotions, thoughts, and people you don’t even know.
You’ve now turned inward for the answers, you’ve closed your eyes and considered the past and future yous, and you’ve forgiven everyone you can think of. You’re now ready to receive your aha! moment of clarity.
6 ) Ask yourself, “What is the best thing I can do right now?”
Keeping a slow pace, feel the air move through your nasal passages as you breathe. Feel the cool air on the inner sides of your nostrils as you breathe in and feel it a bit warmer as you breathe out. Continuing this rhythmic breath, give your mind the space to flip through various activities. What should you do when you stand up?
Maybe the best thing for you is a thorough deep cleaning of your house and donating things that you no longer need. Maybe the best thing to do is give time to others or maybe that’s all you’ve been doing and it’s past time for self-care. Perhaps you’d benefit from time with your furry friends? Maybe you want to bathe your dogs and see what they would look like with a blowout. (Yep, I’ve done it 👍) Ask yourself if it’s been too long since you’ve done something that’s excited you? Or how about something that scared you? Do you need to go for a run to express all your pent up energy? Maybe it’s the opposite and your muscles are tight and holding tension. Does a yoga flow or massage sound like the right answer? It could be that it’s time to learn a new skill, or give time to self-expression.
Whatever the best thing is, if you lay there long enough with nothing but your breath (and some music) you can trust that your intuition will guide you to the right answer. Don’t be surprised if your answer comes and has nothing to do with your “to-do” list. Trust that whatever your intuition tells you to do is the thing that will bring you clarity. And if you fall asleep? Well, that’s ok too.
Now that you know what’s next, open your eyes and breathe in resiliency.
Tell yourself, “I am resilient.” (Don’t just read it and think you’re good, actually do this.) Can you feel the difference? As you exhale a final time, think, “I can do this.”
Paso-a-paso, step-by-step, we will reach our dreams so long as we keep going.
7) Finally, set your intention for the rest of the day.
Setting a daily intention is the single best piece of positive-thinking advice I’ve ever received. Intentional living takes life out of auto-pilot and puts it in our hands. What could feel more motivating than that?
Here are a few examples of intention setting. By the end of the day I will:
Have turned my attitude around
Be thinking positively
Feel excited about the possibilities to come
Believe I’m capable and competent
Feel strong and fit
Have been productive
Know I can do anything I set my mind to.
Have done something that scares me a little and excites me a lot
Have learned something new today
Have received an unexpected gift
Set it, think it, repeat it, then go about your day.
8 ) And just like that you’re out of the red!
You may not be back to where you were before the crash, but hey, retracement is natural. For now just focus on where your intuition has guided you and remove all distractions from your environment. Remember, if you weren’t feeling like a failure every so often it would mean you weren’t doing anything very innovative!
Repeat aloud: Let me be free from anger, jealousy, resentment, and other feelings of ill will. Allow me to be compassionate and kind. Any merits that I have, let me share them with others. Allow me to be free.