How to move forward when tragedy strikes

Jul 30, 2020

I’ve taken a personal break for the past few weeks as it recently marked one year since my Dad passed away. And truthfully, it was so much harder than expected.

You see, my Dad was my mentor, inspiration and a big part of my business journey. He fought a long, courageous battle with cancer but sadly we lost him last July, a few days before our wedding.

So the one-year anniversary of both events was particularly tough.

I didn’t share a lot about it publicly at the time. And I’ve only spoken about it more openly in the past few months. It’s always been my intention to educate and inspire, so I was conscious not to drag others down with me.

But I’m also aware many people are having a hard time right now. If you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one, a job — even life as you once knew it, I can relate. And if you feel sad, lonely or unsure of your place in the world, realise you’re not alone.

I’ve heard many people ask how to keep their business going when dealing with sadness, loss or other personal challenges. So today, I’m sharing my story, what helped me get through this experience and some tips to support you too.

Read on to discover four steps to help you move ahead when sadness holds you back. You’ll learn how to pick yourself up and keep your business going — no matter what life throws your way!

STEP #1 — EMBRACE THE SADNESS

If you’re experiencing sadness, your first response might be to bury it, ignore it or try and push through it. But before you can begin to move forward, you must notice and acknowledge the feeling. Then, lean into it.

Start by naming it. What’s the feeling you’re experiencing? Is it sadness, grief, loss, anxiety or worry.

Next, ask yourself: What is it trying to tell you? If you feel grief over the loss of someone you cared about, it’s reminding you how much this person meant to you. And how lucky you were to have them in your life.

Perhaps you’re feeling sadness for something missing in your life. If you feel lonely, it indicates you’re craving connection. Feeling lost or unfulfilled in your career shows you want more — and it’s pointing you towards what you do (and don’t) want professionally.

Finally, embrace it. Focus on the here and now by letting go of the guilt or loss you feel for the past or your worries about the future. Instead, celebrate the person who was important to you, or your desire to make a change in your life.

STEP #2 — SLOW DOWN, TO SPEED UP LATER

Recognise the importance of slowing down — and even stopping for a while. Without quitting. All so you can keep going and speed up later.

It’s essential to take the time to process your feelings in the moment. Prioritise self-care, do what you can and consider taking a step back from your business or work if you need it.

The idea of slowing down is tough, especially if you’re a high-achiever and used to working hard to reach your goals. I get it. Whenever life feels out of control, there is a temptation to turn to unhealthy habits, like overworking to regain control (this is certainly the case for me).

But here’s the thing. If you don’t take the time to process your sadness or grief in the moment, you risk it building up until you fall apart. Then, the impact on your health, energy, mental and emotionally wellbeing — and ability to run your business at full capacity — will be deeper and longer.

Take it from me. After losing my Dad last year, I immediately buried my sadness, put on a brave face and pulled myself together. It was how I could celebrate my wedding with our closest family and friends — many who’d travelled great distances to be there with a few weeks notice.

I told myself I was dealing with the grief and as the months went by, I began working harder and harder. But the more I tried to push through it, the greater the resistance I felt. In the end, I had to completely step away from my business for a period of time to deal with it.

So my advice to other business owners struggling with grief or sadness is to put your business into ‘maintenance mode’ for a while. At first, this felt impossible. But it can be as simple as figuring out the minimum viable output needed to keep your business going.

This is not the time to scale or launch a new project. Work out how much income you need to cover your overheads and personal expenses and do what you can. Then delegate, automate or eliminate the rest.

Finally, don’t give up! Give yourself permission to slow down in the short term, knowing it will help you bounce back quickly and support you long-term.

STEP #3 — TAKE SMALL STEPS

Processing your emotions in the moment is essential to be able to progress forward. But whatever you do, don’t get stuck in the sadness — or quit altogether. The goal is to build the resilience you need to cope now and into the future.

Taking action is important to get unstuck and move ahead — but I’m not suggesting you chase those big, impossible goals or give 110% right now. Keep it simple and focus on taking one small step per day. After all, it’s the small steps we take over time that create big success.

Ask yourself: What is one thing I can do today to bring more joy to my world? And what simple step can I take to get me closer to what I desire?

If you get stuck, always go back to the next best step you can take in any given moment.

STEP #4 — GO FOR GRATITUDE

When comparing happiness and joy, Brené Brown describes happiness as being ‘tied to circumstances, external situations and events and joy as a deep, ‘heart-centred sense of gratitude’. Research shows people who practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, increased wellbeing and a greater sense of fulfillment.

As Brown says, “we experience happiness but live from a place of gratitude and joy.”

When sadness strikes, it’s a result of external circumstances or situations in life outside your control. Even if you don’t feel happy, one thing you can control is your internal response. By choosing to come from a place of joy and gratitude.

When you experience grief or loss, you begin to reassess your priorities in life. Or if you feel something is missing, there’s an opportunity to be grateful for what you do have. So the final step is to practice gratitude for the small things that are so important in life.

It could be the first sip of coffee in the morning. A child’s laugh. Or walking along the beach and smelling the salty air.

Whatever it is, commit to finding one thing you’re grateful for each day. Focus on what matters to you. Write it down, share it or say it out loud.

Because when it comes to moving forward, it’s the small wins and simple things that make life worth living!

These tips helped me pick myself back up, move forward and keep my business going through a personally challenging time. I hope they support you too.

Please stay safe and reach out to me if you need some extra support right now.

Whether you’re dealing with challenges at a personal level, or want assistance to navigate your career or business in the current climate, I’m here to help.

You can book your complimentary consult HERE.

Stacey Back is an online business coach, career strategist and the Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achieving professionals go from feeling trapped in their corporate jobs to developing the confidence and strategy to transition into their own consultancy. 

Stacey also supports early-stage entrepreneurs to go from confused, frustrated and overwhelmed to establishing the right foundations in their business so they can find more time, freedom and create a business doing the work they love — one that supports their ideal lifestyle.

Stacey works virtually with individuals based across Australia and internationally.