3 min read

Dealing with Low Points

Dealing with Low Points
Photo by Jeremy Perkins / Unsplash

Over the past year of being out on my own, I’ve definitely experienced more intense ups and downs emotionally than I did while working an executive job. 

The lows have been really low, too, at times. Questioning life choices, wondering if this was the wrong path, all while dealing with tough clients and lumpy cash flow.

Add to that working essentially a 7 day workweek with no vacation for over a year and the stress adds up quickly.

Here are a few mental rationalizations I have used to cope with low points over the past year. Maybe these examples will help you on your own journey:

  • Embrace the suck”: That is to say that the grass is never greener and there is no “easy” path to making an executive-level income on your own. It’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to suck to some degree. Nothing is easy, particularly on your own. At no point over the past year have I thought “this was the best decision I’ve ever made”. That has never happened. I’ve never felt like I was in the clear or that the “wolf was not at the door” every day. So, that feeling isn’t for everyone and quite frankly I’m not sure it’s for me. We shall see.
  • There is no concept of getting into some “easy” lane of life that you eventually make it to. And, if there was, I probably wouldn’t find it fulfilling for long. How bored do you get after even 1 week of vacation? In my upbringing there was a notion that some people have it “easy” and we had it “hard” and that at some point you’d hit the promised land (win lotto, have some executive equity win, a mystery inheritance, etc.) and then you would have it “easy” and life would be great. Until then you’re in some degree of lack. I’m realizing in my 40’s that this is not true. Work is always hard.
  • Humans are wired for fulfillment from doing difficult things. This form of satisfaction joy is vastly more fulfilling and longer-lasting than quick hits of dopamine from doing easy things. Literally the tougher the problems and situations are that you get through, the better you are going to feel overall. Wild, but true.
  • Good things take time. A year is NOTHING. It’s a blink. Most good businesses had very meager beginnings so having a long view is really important. This can be really tough perspective to establish.
  • If you’re busy and overwhelmed, that means 1) you are in demand and providing value and 2) growing as a person as you get through it and become more resilient to this continually challenging stimulus. 
  • Clarity is incredibly valuable.Even if you learn that running your own business is not for you, you’ve learned something critical. 
  • Problems have a way of sorting themselves out. Reference your library of previous wins often. I look back on the hundreds of times I’ve totally panicked about something, only for it to be resolved or not that big of a deal in the end. Is this current low point one of those? If so, looking back on previous tough times and how you got through them helps.
  • It’s amazing how much a good night of sleep or a fun weekend will help you get through low points and solve tough problems. Pay attention to how you’re treating yourself physically and “let go” of a problem for a day or two so that your subconscious can work it out for you in the background.

Sometimes low points come from not completing previous homework: Creating your reasons list, putting old stories in a jar on the shelf, etc. So make sure you've done those, too.

Getting through low points is the key to “surviving” the first year on your own. For me, every time I’ve broken through one of these emotional troughs I’ve emerged more resilient and focused. Take some time to figure out your own mindset and rationalizations to get you through those lows, you’ll be glad you did!