The typical problems that lead to low points and some practical solutions you can use to get back on top.
“I’m breaking up with you.”
“Sorry to tell you that we’re making you redundant.”
“You look too skinny, buddy. Put on some weight.”
These are typical life problems that have led to low points in my life. If you think carefully about your own life, you too will see typical problems that we all face at one stage or another that led to a low point or perhaps even a meltdown.
Maybe you’re still living that low point, or you’re about to hit a low point. The good news is that there is a way out. The typical problems we face in life all come from the same list of options and each of them thankfully has a solution.
The difficult part when it comes to implementing a solution to a low point in your life is seeing the situation from a different angle and being prepared to muster up the courage to tackle the problem.
There is a way out of typical problems that lead to low points in life.
Problem #1: You don’t feel like you’re progressing
Life is full of stops, starts, stalls and extreme acceleration.
There are going to be times when your life stalls and you feel like you’re not making progress. Making progress is a basic human need amplified by the fact we can see everybody else’s enormous progress at the click of a button or the swipe of a glass screen that shows someone’s perfect life that is not yours.
You go from one month to the next doing nothing more than paying bills, going to work, or looking after your family. Those lofty goals you had when you were younger of becoming an actor or painting your life experience into a beautiful piece of art or writing until your heart’s content, fade away.
Everyday, normal life takes over and the activities that bring you joy and help you feel you’re progressing disappear.
We all have the boring part of life to deal with. Elon musk has paid a power bill and Richard Branson did have to make himself breakfast at least once in his life and Michelle Obama picked the kids up from school at least once.
The solution to not feeling like you’re progressing is to get some perspective. Life is not what it looks like on the outside. The people you think are progressing also have the same responsibilities you do.
The key to progressing is balance.
Sometimes you’ll be accelerating through life and getting all green lights and other times you won’t be.
Balance out your everyday life with responsibilities like housework and family with those one to two activities that bring you joy and allow you to experience that feeling of making progress.
Problem #2: You feel like you missed your big opportunity
You’re no spring chicken and you feel as though you’re too old or have too many responsibilities to do that thing you love anymore.
You used to get opportunities to write or act or model and now you get none. The world feels as though it has forgotten about you and your dreams.
When you were nineteen years old, you had a chance of a lifetime to move to a new country and be artsy, and now you’re a little bit older and are tied down by the enormous weight of the bricks that make up your house and the even bigger mental weight of having a mortgage.
Maybe your time has passed and maybe there will be no more opportunities. Perhaps this is it. This is your life and you can’t go back.
Opportunities are endless and all you need to do is get creative again.
You may have had one big opportunity and there will be others, but only if you keep going and put in enough work. Often we stop getting access to big opportunities because we’ve stopped putting in the work, yet we still think the opportunities will come.
What you can control is not the number of opportunities; what you can control is your proximity to them through showing up every day and chipping away at the tasks associated with your goal.
When you miss big opportunities, often, it’s because you’re not ready for them. When you come back a second time or for the thirtieth time, that’s when you’re ready.
Problem #3: Your income went down
Five years ago, you were a senior leader or a young, fit carpenter that could assemble a house in a few weeks. Now you feel like you can’t do those things anymore and that’s why your income went down.
You don’t make the same money you used to make and the thought of that makes you feel worthless or less than you can be. The day your salary hits your bank account is the day you are reminded of what you used to make — or worse — what you could have made if you tried harder.
You crucify yourself over your income and wish that you could be a better provider or take your partner on more holidays or buy your dog the premium dog food that Johnny the Labrador eats next door.
Detach your self-worth from your net-worth.
Your income has absolutely nothing to do with who you are. There are plenty of rich people in this world who are total assholes and would never give a single dollar to another human being.
It’s not how much you make but how much you contribute that really counts.
Your income decreases when you stop growing as a person and stop taking risks. If you really do need to increase your income (which I doubt), start there. Or learn to live with less. Making heaps of money only gives you more mental stress, not less.
Problem #4: Lost your job
You rolled up to the office, had lunch with your colleagues, and then walked to your 4:30 pm meeting on a Friday, not knowing it would be your last.
As you walked towards the meeting room, your boss waved you over and asked you to come with them. They took you into one of those two-person meeting rooms and gave you the white envelope with your name on it. Inside the envelope is a copy of your final payment summary and a letter telling you that you no longer have a job.
The letter has no compassion in it because it’s based on employment law. You read the letter and feel worthless like you’re a failure. You picture ringing your partner and telling them that they can’t make any more purchases because you no longer have a job.
You try to think in your head how you’re going to explain to future hiring managers and recruiters that you were fired after only seven months. You picture the road ahead and it’s not pretty. You think you might end up working a dead-end job you hate so that you never have to go through this experience ever again.
As you leave the office for the final time, no one around you knows what happened. They get to find out after you have been exited.
You walk to the train station on your way home from work for the final time. On days like this, life really hurts and it feels unfair. You did the best you could and yet you still failed and lost your job that gave you your self-worth.
I cried writing this one down; I’m not going to lie. This was me earlier in the year and it broke my heart — and on some days, my will to truly live.
Losing your job is such a hard problem to deal with. People tell you it’s going to be okay, but the need to make a living to provide food and shelter for your family is overwhelming.
You will get through it. You won’t be unemployed forever and someone will give you a chance again and see a little bit of brilliance inside the beautiful human being that you are.
Don’t ever let a job or shitty boss tell you that you can’t be anything you want.
Get back on the horse and find your next career when you feel ready and I promise you that you’ll be stronger and better for it.
Problem #5: Partner left you
It’s a typical Sunday afternoon and you’re about to go out with your significant other. You end up fighting over something silly and that leads to a huge argument that has been manifesting for two years.
You attempt to drive to your Sunday afternoon activity and while stopped at the lights, they get out of the car in a rage and slam the door, never to come back in your life again.
You’re now single and have to battle the raging seas of the dating apps and people’s inability to see the real you and love you for it.
You spend your nights swiping left and swiping right, hoping to find that partner that will be an upgrade from your previous nightmare relationship. You believe it was all them or you did your best.
You find yourself searching profiles of people just like your ex and hoping they will reply to your messages. There is not a lot of success and the few matches you have are normally a disaster after the first date.
You get ghosted, blocked, ignored and have your self-esteem and body image eroded in the process. It’s hard. Really hard.
The difficult part about breakups is that you won’t find the right person until you change yourself first. The solution to breakups is to get real with yourself and stop pretending you were perfect.
You played a part in the breakup by being stubborn and refusing to change yourself. When you change yourself and become the dream partner you seek to find, that person finds you and swoops you off your feet.
It’s not easy to admit you’re the problem or that you’re attracting people just like you — but when you do, everything changes and finally, you can find real love that lasts.
Problem #6: There’s never enough time
You wake up in the morning and dread your to-do list. That email requesting to have coffee with you makes you feel guilty because you don’t have time.
There is always more to do and never enough hours in the day to do everything. You find yourself staying back at work to get everything done and working weekends to find the extra time.
As a result, your partner doesn’t get to see you as much as they deserve to and that makes you feel bad. You have dreams of building something for yourself, but other people’s priorities keep getting in the way.
If only people could leave you alone, then you’d have time to work on your dream.
The solution is to focus on one big goal at a time. Having loads of goals only dilutes your focus and allows you to achieve nothing meaningful in the end.
The second part to this difficult problem is to learn to say no. Everyone wants your time and it’s you who gets to decide whether you open the gate and let them in or keep them out.
I protect my time like I protect my life.
No one gets my time unless I say so and I’m ruthless about saying no so I can be generous and give back through writing. Saying no is hard and it makes you feel bad. Don’t let that stop you.
Instead, learn to say no to other people’s priorities and secret agenda’s by drafting yourself a few simple scripts you can follow.
When you have 1–3 pre-written no’s drafted and sitting in your email, it’s easier to say no and you can adapt them over time to be more compassionate, less selfish, and shorter in length.
Protect your time and say no a helluva lot more.
Problem #7: Your boss doesn’t like you
You come to work each day and your boss is always riding your ass and treating your career like a rodeo. They always want you to do more and they are never happy with your results.
Meanwhile, they play favorites with the dude next to you, who is a total jerk and doesn’t have one-tenth of the experience you have.
All they do is kiss ass and your boss loves it. It makes you feel sick and all you do is dream about getting out of there.
Don’t work for a boss; choose a leader who respects you.
How? Quit working for the boss who treats you like trash and find yourself a new one by getting a new job or changing departments.
LinkedIn is probably the greatest asset for your career and it’s drastically underutilized by the vast majority of people. Linkedin allows you to hold up the white flag anonymously and have recruiters and hiring managers see that you are open to opportunities and contact you.
You can also reach out to companies and the people who work there and ask whatever questions you want. You can build a pipeline of new careers, proactively attend interviews, and even share your thoughts with your network that shows the sort of person you are and what you’re skilled at.
Problem #8: The bills are piling up
You open your email and see the power bill sitting there, waiting to empty your pockets. Each month the credit card bill is due and you never seem to be able to get that sucker down.
While out with friends, you buy more items of clothing you know you don’t really need and decide to worry about it later by choosing credit, not debit. After work, you come home and play around on the internet.
There is an endless list of items that seem like they are urgent and will improve your life, thus taking them from the not required column to the must-have column.
Your friends are all buying houses and getting faster, newer, even electric, cars. You can’t do any of that because you’re drowning in debt and still haven’t paid for university yet.
Until you realize you already have enough, you won’t be able to control your spending addiction.
Every purchase you make requires money that will ensure you have to work more. When you spend less, you get to work less and that is one of the greatest feelings in the world.
Forget what your pals have because often it’s not what it seems. They rent, pay later, borrow money, and get given magic inheritances that make their financial present look like your dream financial future.
The solution is to discipline yourself to spend less and then use that money to invest in income-producing activities. Pay your future self first by automatically deducting a percentage of your income and placing it somewhere where it can grow and earn more money.
Decide on a couple of areas in life where you can be a little reckless with your money to enjoy it, and then double down and be disciplined everywhere else. Haggle like a used car salesman on a Saturday morning and negotiate the price of everything. Shop around too.
If you feel like buying something, delay the decision. Revisit the decision in a week and you’ll find that many of the purchases you used to make are decisions you don’t make anymore.
Be good with money and life will be a little easier on you.
Problem #9: You feel tired
You wake up after more than eight hours of sleep and still feel tired. While at work, you find yourself yawning all the time and needing another useless coffee meeting to get your fix.
When Sunday morning arrives, you feel like you’ve been run over by a Land Cruiser and decide to sleep in taking your total sleep time to ten hours. Your partner wants to go out and enjoy the sun, but all you really want to do is stay in bed and keep your eyes shut.
If you have to do something, streaming your favorite tv show feels like a good option because you can be tired and still watch it. No matter how many hours you sleep or what your doctor prescribes, nothing seems to work.
For most of my 20’s, I felt like an old man living in a nursing home that was a year or two away from death.
Feeling tired and not having the energy to pursue my goals in life held me back for many years. It turns out that the solution to having better energy is not that difficult. Here are the basic components:
- Exercise three times at least per week
- Reduce and then eliminate your caffeine intake
- Change your diet and eat food that is healthier and doesn’t come in a cardboard box
- Get some sunshine each day
Unlocking your energy is found in these areas and it’s about more than just getting eight hours sleep. To improve your sleep, which helps too, try stopping work one hour before going to bed and relaxing for that final hour.
Gradually make your home darker before going to bed and do an activity that allows you to disconnect and forget about everything that happened that day.
Try also to stop eating a few hours before you rest and not loading up on heaps of sugary delights.
You can have more energy when you focus on the tried and tested aspects to health that we’ve all heard hundreds of times but never implemented all at the same time in beautiful synchronicity.
Problem #10: You look ugly
You wake up in the morning and feel like you’re ugly. Your skin is not dark enough, your makeup looks out of fashion, or your clothes are not in season.
You look at the rolls of flab around your belly or, like me, you stare at those skinny arms and think, “Geez, I’m not such a pretty picture.” People comment on your weight or how you look and you wish they’d stop.
Someone always has an idea for how you can look better, and getting ready for Saturday Night dinner takes hours. Preparation time for getting ready is longer than it should be because you’re trying to find “your best look.”
Here’s the harsh truth that’s going to send the Instagram models after me with an axe:
Physical beauty isn’t everything.
One of the most beautiful men I’ve ever met beat cancer four times and dedicates all his time to helping people who have nothing. He is kind, humble, courteous, caring and would give the shirt off his back to someone that needed it more than him. Like me, he is skinny from all the chemo and not that physically attractive.
The solution to the ugly problem is to redefine what you believe beauty is.
True beauty is how you treat people.
When you learn to redefine what beauty is and be kinder to yourself, the problem of feeling ugly will escape you once and for all and that’s when you can work on yourself and the person you are. Be kind to yourself because you’re already gorgeous baby.
You will hit a low point caused by one of these common problems and the possible solutions, as you can see, are achievable. Low points are what define who you will become and allow you to learn from setbacks and failure.
It’s not whether you will face one of these typical problems, only a matter of when. Each of us has the same opportunity to quit blaming others or the government or a bad boss or our circumstances and take control of our lives by implementing a solution that makes us responsible.
Every problem has a way out and you can rise above any challenge and use it to your advantage.