As we’ve all come to know, life is a series of ups and downs. We all strive to have more ups than downs; make the ups last longer and the downs as short as possible.
Bottom line, down periods can be great opportunities for learning, improving, and creating the next up period. I believe that taking this approach will result in longer ups and less downs. And that is our goal after all.
When we’re up our confidence is high, we’re happy, satisfied, and our overall outlook on life is very positive. Conversely, when we’re in a down period, our confidence is low, our self-esteem is low, and our perspective turns negative. For many a down period is a period of depression.
However, as hard as we might try, it seems that we cannot prevent having down periods in our lives. I believe it’s like our mistakes. They are there for a reason. Mistakes are how we learn best. They are a survival mechanism. We can also turn the down periods to be significant learning and improvement experiences.
To begin with, we can try to understand what is it that got us to this down period in the first place. Was it something that we did? Or that someone else has done to us? If it’s the former, then that is an opportunity to improve ourselves. If it’s the latter, then perhaps we can learn from it about other people’s behavior, and how that behavior may adversely affect us. This knowledge can help us change our own behavior, or choose more carefully the people we work or associate with.
But what if the root cause to our down period was not people related? For example, what if it was triggered by a specific industry event, or a local economic problem, as some countries are experiencing these days? In such cases we can learn how to reduce our exposure to similar problems in the future by learning new skills to increase our value and demand, or change our career altogether.
However, sometimes we just need to accept that there are things beyond our control. For example, global catastrophes (like the financial crisis of 2008-11), or natural disasters (like tsunamis or earthquakes), that can adversely affect us no matter what we do. And yet, even in these types of down periods we can learn how to survive, persevere, adapt, and eventually come out of them stronger and better than before.
Moreover, downs can be a life detoxification period. They are a humbling experience that allows us to learn what truly matters in our life, where we should spend our valuable time and what to ignore. We can use down periods to clarify our values and priorities in life, and review our goals. Often things become clearer when we remove hubris and hype.