So You’ve Had A Really Shit Year — Here’s How To Get Back Up in 2019

Three things you can do right now to get off on the right foot.

Sarah Robb O'Hagan
Picture via NordWood Themes on Unsplash

The holiday season can often trigger mixed emotions.

There’s relief and happiness to be with our friends and fam, and to get a break from the day to day grind of work. There are plenty of opportunities to overeat, over-party and generally overindulge. And if you’re on a great roll, there’s the joy of celebrating the awesome wins you’ve just had in the year gone by.

But some years, it just doesn’t feel like that at all. Everyone around you is enjoying the high of the season, and you’re just stuck wondering what the hell happened to all those New Year’s resolutions that you set for yourself — and why your professional or personal life is nowhere near where you thought it would be.

I’m in the middle of that experience right now. So I’ve spent some time this holiday season seeking the counsel of others I admire who know how it feels to be in the “shit tunnel” of missed expectations. Through these conversations, I’ve been reflecting on what the best advice is for digging your way out of it.

If there’s one thing I do know to be true, it’s that Extremers use down times to fuel their climb back to the top of a new mountain. So that’s certainly what I plan to do.

— — — — — — — — — —

2018 was the year I made the immensely tough call to walk away from a job and company that I loved. It was a decision I made when I realized that there was no longer a path for me to achieve the high expectations I had for myself when I’d taken the job.

Quitting is NEVER easy, especially when you have not mapped out a clear next destination to pursue. But I knew that I was not thriving. The situation was having a negative effect on my health and my family. And after a lot of soul searching, I could only conclude that my energy was not being directed as productively as it could be. I believed I could contribute so much more if I could find the right mountain to climb.

The initial feeling of quitting was total and utter relief — at last the decision was made, and I could move past the sleepless nights that led up to it. But as we rolled in to the holiday season, and I had time to sit more quietly in the stillness away from my “to do” list, I started to feel as down in the dumps as I have felt in a long, long time. Rationally, I am so very excited and optimistic about my future, but emotionally — it was a tough battle to process the reality of failing against my own big dreams and expectations.

What I have learned is that I am FAR from alone in this experience. I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many mentors and friends who are either in the same place as me right now, or who can certainly remember going through it.

From these chats, I’ve put together my list of “to dos” to get my #Extreme19 off to the right start, and I hope it might be helpful for anyone else looking for a new horizon in work or life.

1. START TAKING STEPS — EVEN IF YOU DON’T YET KNOW YOUR DESTINATION

It’s a very normal human reaction when faced with a personal loss or professional defeat to immediately reach for a good bottle of wine, the remote control and a quiet couch with the perfect viewing spot for your portal into Netflix. And, as I’ve learned from every loss in my life — there is a time and a place for this and it SHOULD be honored!

However, the single best way to move out of the pain of failure is to start taking steps forward. Steps of momentum in any direction have an amazing ability to breathe confidence and belief right back into you.

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to have my childhood best friend staying with me. She, of course, is utterly familiar with my well-honed procrastination tactics. So when she was here, she put me on the hot seat and made sure I got going on some business ideas I have talked about for years. WOW what a difference it has made to make some real commitments that I’m excited to deliver on in early January.

Even if you’re not sure where you are heading, make a commitment right now to accomplish some important steps in January. Maybe it’s appointments to network for a new job, the commitment to take a course, or the willingness to step out and take that trip you have always dreamed of. It doesn’t matter what it is — just start moving!

2. SET A PERSONAL HEALTH AND FITNESS GOAL AND GET AFTER IT

A strong and healthy body leads to a confident and courageous human.

When you’re trying to get back to chasing your big dreams, the most important foundation is always your health and fitness. Obviously every one of us is in a different place on the spectrum of fitness — but setting a goal that stretches you out of your comfort zone is the fastest way to feel like you are moving in a positive direction with your life.

You might start by committing to exercise a certain number of times per week. Or maybe you’re finally ready to assemble a team and do the Whole Life Challenge, or even sign up for your first marathon. Pick something that you know is a stretch, but that you know is achievable in the first half of the year. Then, announce it to everyone you know. It’s amazing how the public knowledge of a goal you’ve set for yourself will keep you on track.

Be sure to track your progress on STRAVA or your favorite training app, and be sure to mark those milestones so you can break out that bottle of wine again and celebrate your small wins along the way.

3. NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS? TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHECK YOURSELF OUT

One of the greatest silver linings of an epic fail in your life, whether it’s a romantic relationship that ends, or a startup that fails, is that it forces you to take a step back and assess the path you’re on. From my own painful experiences of being fired earlier in my career, I’ve learned that those losses ultimately led to doors opening in different directions that turned out to be so much better for me than I ever would have imagined.

Sometimes we get “locked in” on a certain path that we have been working so hard on for such a long time. Because of that stubbornness, we are simply not aware of the other things out there that we might enjoy even more.

Checking yourself out is the art of trying on new and different things to see how they fit — and you are never too old to keep exploring! Have you always dreamed of living in a different country but you’ve never considered it because your job was based in your current city? Or did you have a passion for music in your youth that has gone by the way side since you became so consumed with your career? Your current forced change in direction gives you a chance to try other things that you otherwise might not have.

So given that it’s the New Year — be bold and use your New Year’s resolutions list to push your buttons a wee bit.

— — — — — — — — — —

2019 is going to be another epic year of growth and change. Life is a long road, full of ups and downs. So just because you’ve been on a downswing and others around you have not — it doesn’t mean that it’s going to stay that way. Great things can happen if you’re willing to take your future into your own hands and build on the learnings of your last shitty year. So, put a plan together, and know that you’re most certainly not alone. I for one will be with you all the way. Here’s to an #Extreme19 !

Sarah Robb O'Hagan

Written by

Workout Queen by morning, Chief Extremer by day, Wife and Mum of Team Robb O'Hagan by night. Former Prez of EQX and Gatorade. Grew up at NZ, Virgin and Nike.

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