One Simple, Life-Changing Thing You Can Do to Overcome Adversity

I had three dollars in my bank account. I owed over a hundred thousand dollars to the IRS. I had to lay off my best friend.

These are just some of the stories that have played out over my entrepreneurial journey. You could classify each as bad moments for me. High stress, low self-esteem, and very debilitating.

However, each life experience has unfolded into a narrative that I’ve been able to share with other entrepreneurs and digital agency owners to help them avoid the same pitfalls I did. Hopefully, others are able to avoid the mistakes I made or overcome them faster.

The only real difference between my problems and most other people’s problems is I choose to write about them. I capture these stories in blog posts, emails, and online courses. The process has helped me see the forest for the trees. I can take a step back and get perspective on what I could do better next time.

Writing takes time. And I think you need time to process this type of stuff. It is too easy to have something bad happen, fall into a negative slump, and fail to capture the value in both the good and the bad. After all, most life events are at best neutral, we’re the ones who apply the meaning to these situations in the first place.

You’d be surprised how much good there is in the bad.

I was recently reviewing an old journal, and on one page it said, “It seems I have been challenged. I only have $3 in my bank account.” I’m sure we can agree that is a rotten situation. However, in the following fifteen or twenty pages, I journaled about what wealth meant to me. That wealth was more than just money. That wealth was about family, relationships, and security.

In hindsight, based on this writing, one could make a good argument that I might never have defined what wealth meant to me had I not written about it when I had none. What I thought – at the moment – was a bad thing, in the long run, might have been one of the best things that ever happened to me because of writing, thinking about, and defining my core values.

I do my best to avoid complaining or assigning blame for my woes. Instead, I focus on what I can learn from these moments. What fundamental truths or lessons I can pull.

When something terrible happens to you, consider picking up your pen next time.

Lost a big deal? Write about it.

Partnership woes? Take some time to journal.

Dump a bunch of money on a Facebook campaign that didn’t perform? Post a status update about what you learned (not about how mad you are).

Writing this stuff doesn’t even have to be public. Fifty percent or more of what I write never sees the light of day. I write to myself. I write letters to my wife. I write drafts that get deleted.

One thing that writing publicly has shown me is how common my issues are and how writing about them gives others a voice. I’ve had at least a dozen entrepreneurs privately approach me about situations they’ve fallen into with the IRS. I’m no tax attorney, but I think it’s important for people to know they aren’t alone.

We’ve all made mistakes. Most are not life-threatening.

So write for yourself. And write for others. The world deserves to hear your story and the process will be of great value to you.

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