I vaguely remember saying, "I can't wait for 2019 to be over." I was looking for a reset and little did I know how much 2020 was not the reset I was looking for. In 2019 and early 2020, I lost 13 friends and families members from July 11th forward. One of those included my mother. I did the eulogies on a number of them, including hers. My father-in-law had a heart attack and a stroke. I ended up in the hospital on Tuesday (I did give my delightful nurse a business card) and my wife ended up in the hospital on Friday. It seemed like I spent most of waking hours in a hospital room or a funeral home, and I entered 2020 feeling exhausted and wrung out.
Like many people in business, I look at first of the year as a chance to reset, relaunch, and plan bigger and bolder dreams. When the year started out with more deaths I was frustrated. It wasn't because the deaths were taking up my time or causing me heartache, but it was more of a deep sense of loss that I would never be able to get back. In that, I was terribly sad and blue. I use the word blue because we all have blue moments. I always told my counseling clients that blue moments are normal. We all get a little depressed or blue when things take something from us, hurt us deeply or disappoint us in ways we're not accustomed to. Blue days are normal, but blue weeks or months are not. At that point, we should seek help.
If you've followed my blog at all, you know I tend to be pretty upbeat most of the time. When 2020 started off like 2019 ended, it wasn't what I expected, but what was coming made 2019 look like a picnic. The deaths subsided late in February. Covid-19 took over the headlines early in the first quarter and a "new normal" was born. Now what? What was I supposed to do?
Well, I looked at the world I'm in instead of the one I'd like to be in and I made new plans. I used the downtime to take courses I never have time to take. I learned new things, read more books, listened to more webinars and attended online classes. I even binged watched a few shows I've heard about but could never get free long enough to see them. I made long overdue repairs on my house, organized my stuff, cleaned, repaired and modified my cars, fixed a few used Rug Doctor carpet cleaners, opened my pool, caught up on my lawn, sold off long overdue items that I've wanted to sell forever, and generally found positive ways to use the downtime.
How you deal with any crisis in your life is your choice. You may not have been trained throughout your life to take the positive approach to your responses, but you can learn to do it. I was just chatting with a colleague about a conversation I had a while back. In that, a friend had worked terribly hard on a project. When she was done, her employer didn't like the result and told her to start over. She got mad and quit her job. Before she quit, she came and asked me what she should do.
I asked her, "Did they pay you throughout the creating process?" Yes. "So, your pay was not conditioned on the project outcome?" No. "What's the problem? They're willing to pay you again to do the project over." Well, she quit her job at great expense. The truth is, she received everything she was promised. She received a paycheck every week, and she had a great place to work. But, she allowed her emotional response to put her in a precarious place.
Many of us have done that. We misinterpret a comment and get mad at someone who doesn't even know we're mad. We read an email and get ticked off, but remember, emails and texts are a flat surface and they have no emotion or visual context. We take a slight and make it a fight. I have a basic rule of thumb when it comes to people. I assume everyone loves me until they tell me otherwise. That keeps me from trying to make people love me. I just assume they do.
You are the author of your response to everything that happens to you. You may be programmed to react poorly, but that is something you can change. This year hasn't turned out like I expected, but I'm grateful that I'm healthy, surrounded by people I love and who love me and I have the privilege of making my little corner of the world better. Does it get any better than that? I will see those I've lost again, and I'll continue to help others where the opportunities arise, and maybe, just maybe I'll get my garage cleaned out. Cheers to the second half of 2020, and let's hope it has lots of positive surprises for us. We're overdue.