How to find optimism and opportunity in every difficulty. By Madeline Johnson
We must remember that the end of anything is the beginning of something. The closing of one door, the opening of another. Endings are not final, they give birth to something else. A bad breakup – the start of a fresh, new relationship (sometimes with ourselves); the loss of a job, the start of a brand new career path; the death of a loved one, the beginning of grief and transformation.
Every ending gives you an opportunity to grow, to reevaluate your relationships, your own performance and the direction in which you want your life to go.
Think about it. If your life were a Netflix or Amazon original series, what type of review would you give it? How many stars? A thumbs up or a thumbs down? It is time to be the hero and heroine of your own life.
Have you troubles? Welcome to the world. What opportunities do your troubles bring? What could you do to create a plot twist, what could your character learn? What must you change about yourself to grow?
How do you find optimism and opportunity in every difficulty?
I own a home on the beach. It’s a lovely, beautiful home and it’s for sale. I have owned it for over 15 years. I raised my family in this home and we have all types of memories there. Beautiful memories, horrendous fights, near-death accidents, messy break ups, crazy breakdowns, demonstrations of great bravado, real-life family drama, the revitalization of relationships and memories of amazing, joyous moments.
Now the house is for sale, but unfortunately because the real estate market is slow and in order to pay the mortgage, I had to rent the house out to keep from losing it.
Unfortunately I rented it to a person who hasn’t paid me rent in two months and now going on the third month. She is officially squatting in my home. Now, if you have never had this experience, well, all I can say, is I hope you never do.
At first I wanted to scream, I wanted to throw her out on the street, I wanted to do something to cause her so much pain. How dare she? What type of person does this? How could I have been so stupid to not check references? I was disgusted with myself. I called the lawyer, signed the eviction papers. I did everything I could think of and it became an obsession. I was the victim, beating myself up for being an ass for renting to her – until one day, I woke up and realized that all of this anger and rage is only making me sick. My heart and breath so tight. My mind racing. I could not allow the stress to take over my mind and body. I knew I had to do something. So, I thought about the situation in a completely different way.
How could I make this horrible situation- where I am quite obviously getting taken advantage of – become a power tool for my growth?
At that moment, I decided, I was lucky to still own a home. There’s the gratitude. It has been a big investment, our life savings. What I could do instead of complain and moan about the injustices done to me?
I could work smarter and harder to pay the mortgage and the rent where I am currently living. I would look at this as a temporary opportunity to double down on my career, focus on building my skills and take all the time that I spent obsessing about how much I wanted to strangle this crazy-lady-squatting tenant and do something good for me.
Yes of course I put all the proper actions into place to get her out, but what I did was asked the question, how can I let this God-forsaken obstacle make me stronger? What opportunities does this challenge bring me?
Well, first there is the lesson. Next time, I will be be more diligent about background checks and collect three months rent ahead of time. Next time, I won’t have a lease. And, right now I will do everything to try to sell my home faster.
Now, there is still the challenge of paying the mortgage, another $3,200 a month to pay on top of my current living expenses. How? Where would I get the money? I rolled up my sleeves and dug into Upwork, LinkedIn and other sources for freelancers and began to work around the clock, seven days a week. I spent my time consuming less and creating more. Sooner rather than later, I found that this obstacle has helped me hone my skills, meet new clients and improve my career skills.
In a way, I almost want to thank the crazy-squatting lady for giving me this opportunity to double down on my life.
I have employed this “opportunity” technique over and over again in my life. I allow the obstacle be the way. Ryan Holiday wrote a damn good book about it. You can read it at The Obstacle is The way, The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.
Paulina Galka a collage artist based in Wroclaw, Poland.