The one thing I love about New Years is that it is a time to start over. OK, you failed at your diet. Instead of weight-loss it was weight-found, no problem. Start over. You didn't make the top ten agents in the US, your State, your office or your solo brokerage, no problem. You get another chance. You didn't make the top 30 under 30 list, no problem. There's always the top 40 under forty list. Begin again.
We all need points in our lives where we get another chance. You can let life's failings derail and wreck your life, or you can pick yourself up and dust yourself off and start over. When the economy crashed in September of 2008 my stock portfolio literally disappeared. I had traded over 600 trades that year and was on my way to an early retirement. My first impression on seeing the news was, "Wow, that really sucks!" That was pretty much it.
It drives my wife crazy because I don't go crazy when things like that happen. It wouldn't have made a bit of difference if I did. A pattern day-trader is a fun and exhilarating role to play, but there are things you need to remember when you do it. I quickly learned that you cannot be a trader like I was and be away from the markets for days on end. If you do, you could end up with a negative balance in your account, and you can owe more than you invested in the stock market. That was a tough lesson learned, but I'm back at it a littler wiser and better prepared this time.
That's just one example, but we've all had setbacks. We've all been hit so hard that we didn't think we could recover. Maybe it was a divorce. Maybe it was a business partner who ran off with all of the money. Maybe it was the loss of a loved one, the end of a friendship or the alienation of a relationship. It happens to all of us, but what we do with the pain will determine if the past controls the future. I lost 8 family and friends the second half of this year. I felt like I spent more time in the funeral home than my own home. One of those departed was my mother. It was a challenge, but life continues whether I show up or not. I decided to show up.
There are things you can do when you have setbacks that can help you not only get back on track, but they can put you on a better track.
- What did you do wrong, if anything, in the failure? In my day-trading days I know that I have to stay engaged all the time. You can't leave a half a million dollars on a park bench and assume it will be there when you get back. It most likely will not be there. I got a little cocky with my success and it came back and bit me. Lesson learned.
- What could you have done differently? In a friendship relationship, it might be best not to spend too much time with a friend. There is balance between what is healthy and what is unhealthy. You can feel it down deep inside when it starts to turn unhealthy. Listen to that inner voice.
- Don't set unrealistic goals and expectations. Saying you're going to lose 50 lbs is a great goal if you need to, but it might be a bit overwhelming if you have a couple setbacks early. Set smaller achievable goals. When you meet them, they will inspire you to go just a little bit further. Each success fuels the next success.
- Talk less and listen more. I was in a salvage yard years ago listening to a man blowing off about something. Everyone was starring at him. The poor guy behind the counter was making a host of apologies for whatever had offended the guy, but nothing would appease him. Finally, the counterman asked me, "Mr. Cooper, what do you think?" I simply said what was on my mind, "A fool is known by the multitude of his words." The place went silent, and the bloviator left. Problem solved for those of us listening. The company wasn't ever going to pacify him. So, offending him was not a problem. Listen more, talk less.
- Approach some issues more slowly. I'm a very fast moving person. I make decisions very rapidly. It's unnerving for some around me, but most issues have the answer peeking out of the issue. If you're paying attention, you will see it. Some do not. In those cases, you need to proceed slowly. If you're unsure about something, take your time. My son was doing an electrical job recently and ran into a very strange problem. He and I looked at the issue for hours with no success. Finally, I was away from it over the weekend and started to realize we were over-thinking the problem. On the next visit to the project, I made a small change and it corrected the problem. It was actually simple, but we didn't give it enough time to reveal itself. The weekend did the trick. Even us fast movers need to slow down sometimes.
Everyone faces setbacks at some point. How you deal with them will determine if they have a hidden value or a heart full of pain. Sometimes, they may have both, but in it all you can still grow and become a much wiser better person.