Executive Education

How to keep going when the going gets tough

I’m no stranger to adversity; I pulled my husband from a burning house fire, lost almost everything I owned in the 2008 global financial crisis, plus countless other personal and business challenges in my 55 years of life. As businesses and families are facing unprecedented times with the eruption of COVID-19, there are steps you can take to mitigate the disruptions in your life and more importantly, take care of yourself and your loved ones as you adjust to your new reality.   Here are some tips & strategies I have learnt – through trial and error – that helped me ‘come out the other side’:

  1. Stay positive
    Very rarely do we see a positive outcome coming out of a negative attitude. If life throws you a curveball that is totally unexpected, it’s important to keep a strong and clear attitude. By focusing on the positive things in your life, including who and what you are grateful for, you can affect the outcome of a situation. If you remain optimistic, your mind will be a lot sharper and you will be in happier state to face your challenges head on.
  2. Focus on what’s important
    When you are facing a crisis or a challenging situation, you can’t juggle 20 plates at once or be everything for everyone. Simply focus on the most important things in front of you, in the moment, and get rid of all the noise and distractions. Anything incidental or unimportant can wait.
  3. Look after yourself
    When facing a crisis head on, you need to be your best self. When I was in my 20s, I would often resort to eating junk food, not exercising, and drinking alcohol to drown my sorrows. It seemed like a good idea at the time but would always make things worse the next day. It was classic self-sabotaging behaviour and meant that the vehicle of my body and mind was not performing at its peak when I needed it to the most.  Over time, I realised that the best way to tackle a challenge was making sure that I was at my best; which for me means exercising every morning before my day starts, meditating daily, eating well, getting enough sleep and limiting my alcohol.
  4. Create your picture of success
    What success looks like for others, won’t necessarily be what success looks like for you. When you have an obstacle to jump, it’s far less overwhelming when you have clear picture of what the successful outcome is for you. Regardless of whether it’s in business, a relationship, your health, finances, renovating a house – whatever it is! – when you know what the end game looks like, then you can work backwards to create a road map of how to get there (from where you are now). Break up your challenge into bite size pieces and confront it one step at a time, allocating time in your diary along the way.
  5. Ask for help
    People love to help! If you’re having a difficult time, share what’s going on with the people you love so that they can lend a helping hand and support you. Being vulnerable and open to the people that are close to you will make such a huge difference – you can share the load, and know you’re not alone. Most people will have experienced and learned from their own challenges, too, so it is all the more rewarding for them to help lessen the burden for someone else who may be experiencing similar troubles.

Often through challenges, we gain strength and wisdom along the way; so fear not – sometimes the worst thing that happens in your life, can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. So when the going gets tough, I hope these tips will help you to face your battles and become a better person for it.

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Suzzanne Laidlaw
Suzzanne Laidlaw, Executive Business Coach at ActionCOACH, is an internationally accredited business coach, global leader in business planning and author of the new book, “What’s Your Plan?”. Passionate about supporting business owners to achieve their dreams, Suzzanne knows what it takes to overcome adversity and function at the top level to achieve extraordinary results. Suzzanne Laidlaw is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow her on LinkedIn.