Despite having read many outstanding pointers on how to make 2016 my best year ever--ironically, some of which I wrote myself--I have to admit that the first couple months of 2016 were pretty unlucky for me. I would go as far as to say that they were epic in their non-awesomeness.
It all started when I got rear-ended while stopped at a red light. There was a lot of damage to my vehicle, but everything went smoothly through insurance and I was given a rental car.
Two days later, I got into another car accident.
This time it was my fault. I backed into my neighbor's car. While driving the rental car. Because of course I did. In my defense, I'll say that the neighbor's car was parked in an obstructive way, and in blizzard conditions, no less, but the point still stands. I had failed at driving, and I was starting to feel pretty frustrated and down on myself. When it rains, it pours.
A few days after that, my basement flooded when our clogged mud sink overflowed during the washing machine's rinse cycle. Another costly mistake that could have been prevented. I had noticed the slow drain ages ago, had known it was only a matter of time before this very thing happened--but I failed to act.
I was beginning to rack up a pretty impressive list of mishaps. And they were getting expensive. I wish it could say it ended there, but nope. Like an airborne virus, I managed to take my unluckiness from my home life and into the world at large. Like Outbreak.
I brought my toxic mood to work with me and was repaid in kind by a veritable avalanche of problems. My problems had problems. Even Jay Z had at least one fewer problem than I did when he clocked in with a solid 99.
For at least one whole calendar month, it seemed like I couldn't do anything right. Failure was hiding around every corner. It actually felt like hopelessness was becoming a part of my personality. I was navigating my personal Titanic of negativity into all the icebergs. Something had to change.
Unsurprisingly, the 'something' was my attitude. I'd be straight-up lying if I told you that I've been completely rehabilitated from my stint as Debbie Downer. But I'm working on it, and here's the good advice I've been following:
1. Be grateful for what you have. As bad as things may be, somebody always, always has it worse than you do. No matter how much you fail, no matter how fantastically wrong things go, you still woke up this morning, and there are still things in your life that are going right. You just can't see them because your problems are super, super loud and they're drowning out the good stuff. Just take a quick glance at the news. Bad things happen to people. Things that make your problems look like pleasure cruises. Suddenly an angry boss doesn't seem all that bad. Practice gratitude.
2. Quantify your awesomeness. It's still in there. It's just in the corner crying right now because your ego got sucker-punched. I recently searched through all sorts of old emails and messages to find instances where people had gone well out of their way to praise things I'd done. I ended up with a pretty badass collection of much-needed affirmations -- I found one message where a client had written, "Julie, you are a treasure!" and suddenly I was crying like it was the end of Steel Magnolias. In that moment my Grinch-like heart grew three sizes and I began to see a message spelled out in lights at the end of the tunnel--it read, "Damn right, you're a treasure."
3. Deflate your ego. I think the worst part of failure isn't actually failure. It's embarrassment. You're forced to admit to people, in many cases people you love and respect, that you completely blew it. That's a hard pill for anyone to swallow. Stripping away layers of pride and owning failures small and large is actually empowering in a weird and beautiful way. It's a sign of mental toughness.
4. Plan your awesome comeback. Nothing is more triumphant than rising from the ashes of whatever flaming rubble is left of the last thing you tried. Nothing feels better than proving people wrong about you. But be smart about it. You've learned lessons from your failures. Apply them well.