By Dana Massett, MBA

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl

You know the old adage “life isn’t fair.” Well, fair or unfair, obstacles will present themselves – some more challenging or more painful than others.

While we don’t get to choose our “hand” in life, we do get to decide how we play the cards we are dealt.

And when life throws you lemons, you can choose to either wallow in your misfortune or transform those lemons into lemonade.

Here is a 4-step formula to help you overcome any challenge and move forward when things don’t turn out the way you had hoped or planned:

1. Accept your reality

In order to move over, through, or around any obstacle, you must first fully own and accept your reality. This is not the same as resignation. Rather, it is acknowledging the facts so that you can navigate a new path forward.

Ignoring your problem or wishing things were different only prolongs your suffering. It wastes precious time and energy that could otherwise be directed toward positive resolutions.

[Related: Thirty Days of Me First]

2. Craft your story

“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl

While much of what happens in life is outside of our control, we do have the ability to influence our circumstances. We decide our response.

Craft a story that reframes your struggle as an opportunity – an opportunity to learn a new skill, meet new people, view the world through a different lens, channel pain or heartache into something positive.

3. Inch forward

Progress begets progress. Identify the smallest, most manageable action. Draw strength and meaning from your story – something bigger than yourself that offers direction. Then, slowly nudge yourself forward taking small, incremental steps.

4. Enlist support

Overcoming any obstacle is much easier and certainly more pleasant when you have people by your side to provide support and encouragement. They are likely to see things from a fresh perspective and offer alternatives you may not have otherwise considered.

The process takes deliberate effort, but place faith in yourself and trust that you will be able to handle whatever is thrown your way. Happy Planning!

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More from Thrive Global:

8 Things You Should Do After 8 P.M. If You Want to Be Happy and Successful

The One Relationship You’re Probably Ignoring

The One Word That Can Hurt Your Reputation at Work

Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.


Planning Etc. LLC

I believe in the power of planning, which led to the creation of Planning Etc. LLC, a productivity consultancy focused on improving performance through strategic planning, organization, and time management. We teach busy professionals how to use smart planning to be effective and productive. Our strategies, tools, and resources are based on behavior science research tailored to the client’s unique circumstance and productivity style. Time is your most valuable resource. Our goal is to ensure you invest… Continue Reading

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