Coming Out Swinging This 2021

2020 punched you hard one way or another? Welcome to the real “Fight Club”. Career-wise, I buried my first business, my first “baby”, which I ran for most of my working life. Worse, I lost one of my uncles, who I will always miss. At this point, the hits are personal. Gloves are off. For all that I’ve lost and for all the blessings that remained, I swear this 2021, I’m coming out swinging. Want to join me? Read on.

I cannot take back what I lost last 2020 but the price I paid, can be a free lesson for others. I summarize what I’ve learned in the sentence below which also helps outline this post.

“Pain educates if you choose to focus on your purpose and act towards it.

Pain hurts but they also serve as signals that we need to get out of our current state. Below are a few things that helped me cope with all this uncomfortable change.

I. Post-traumatic Growth describes post-traumatic growth as “the positive psychological change that some individuals experience after a life crisis or traumatic event.”

After experiencing trauma, take a step back and realize that what hurts educates. This helps you face life with more composure and more compassion for those who also suffered.

A strong will is not enough though, it has to mold our lifestyles. Lifestyle is the system of our habits. What processes do you have to care for your health, mind, spirit, relationships, finances, etc.?

Building Antifragile Systems

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, describes antifragile as things that gain from chaos. To be antifragile is not surviving and being robust but benefitting from the changes.

How does this work? Take a deep hard look at your life. Which parts are you weakest? Which parts broke when the crisis happened? Which parts do you think are near breaking?

What are some ways to be antifragile?

  • For finances, it’s having many sources of income. If losing your job or one business hurts, then you’re fragile.
  • For relationships, it’s having healthier expectations of the people we love. People are not property. We do not own them. They do not own us. We have the benefit of having a finite and uncertain amount of time we choose to spend together. Understanding that, will help a lot, especially, if you lost someone.

II. If you choose

To accept your realities

Grieve sufficiently. Yes, things may hurt but it should not define your life. Go through the process as needed, but come out of that tunnel. The better you handle the grieving process, the better adjusted you will be.

After my uncle’s wake, I realized I was hiding grief through anger and being busy.

  • I was angry at the injustice of it. Why did a good man have to suffer while I see bad people on t.v having a great time and getting preferential treatment?
  • I escaped through work so I don’t have to think about it.

It was a few days after when I wept alone. We all grieve differently but we must go through the process before we can move on.

To not settle

Helplessness is a learned response. Get hit and stay on the ground long enough and you think that is normal. It is not. 2020 was hard and I choose to not have another year like that again.

Having a victim mentality is easy and convenient. It takes courage to hope and to claim that 2021 will be a better year, even if circumstances don’t get kinder. Don’t’ get me wrong. It scares me to revive my fallen business while also trying to startup another one while running the current business that survived. Yes, that’s three. Having these many “experiments” run, helped me survive 2020. I’d rather suffer grinding on my own terms instead of being reliant on one model.

The business world is a jungle, the strong survive and the weak get eaten. In harsher conditions, some animals give birth to more offspring to help secure the survival of their species. I’m doing the same. My “children”/ businesses will survive and thrive, even if I have to go through the pain of burying some of them.

III. To focus on your purpose

What’s up with all this sink-or-swim, going-out-swinging mentality? It’s the result of knowing one’s purpose, a set of values more important than oneself.

Knowing my purpose is more important than my temporary feelings. 2020 left a world that is bleeding. The injustices are felt more by the people in society that are least served.

Before starting my business, I worked for a non-profit. After that, I gained some business skills and applied what I learned. My purpose has always been to build sustainable business models that helped the least fortunate. In my case, I don’t broadcast it, but I feed orphan children through anonymous donations.

The more business models I have that thrive, the more orphanages I can support and the more children I can feed. These children will be adopted by loving families and they will grow up to be loving people. They will be part of those who mend this bleeding world. But these kids are not there yet, so in the shadows, it’s my job to help them. They will grow up knowing it is God who sustains them. And this world will be a better place.

Why mention all this? I show you how motivating a clear purpose is.

Your purpose is the engine that drives your life. Upholding it is your personal win condition.

  • Which aspects of life do you value? What makes your life a win? What should you do?
  • Invert. This can help you focus. What is the worst possible case scenario? Work backward on how to avoid that losing scenario?

IV. And act towards it.

All plans fail in the face of reality. 2020 ravaged the plans I made in 2019. Planning matters because it puts you in a deliberate mindset. When reality throws punches, you’ll react faster since you already practiced in your head.

Most of us already know what we should be doing. The hardest thing on our pipelines is usually the right thing to do. These tasks mostly have high costs early on but will pay off much later in the future. The mere fact of their difficulty is a signal that these are the strategic objectives that will set you apart because everyone else is choosing not to pursue them. 

People delay action in their goals and have many reasons to justify the behavior. Some get overwhelmed or demotivated because they don’t break down their goals into bite-sized pieces. Some fear their own greatness or fear failure. Delay long enough and you will start defending your ego with better and better excuses. All this planning and intentionality early this year should be made real because you deserve better. You paid such a high price last year that you should not hesitate to go towards these gradual daily struggles necessary for you to reach your goals.  

We all paid some price this 2020. The better we handle this year, the less these losses would affect our wellbeing in the long run.

We are the ones who survived. It is the gracious thing to do to live meaningful lives for those whose chances got taken away from them.

It does not matter if 2021 will treat us kindly or not. I hope this helps and I congratulate you for being strong this year. You got more fight in you, this 2021. Let’s choose to come out swinging!