Wouldn’t it be lovely to live a life of sheer perfection?
Every day is sunny and 70 degrees, the daily outlook is always on-point, and your success outshines the sadness no matter how dark it gets inside… Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But life is unpredictable.
Without life’s lemons, we’d never discover the fulfillment of making lemonade. You know, those sour moments that feel like they will leave you raw afterward? I have had plenty of them as of late, but with the sour comes the sweet, refreshing aftermath that gives me so much more clarity and courage to reconnect with what it is I really need. Here’s what’s been happening…
A Season of Lemons
2022 has been one of the hardest years for me personally so far. We’ve all had them, so let me walk you through my lemon-stand-filled year. Picture this; I am in Alburquerque, New Mexico, my absolute favorite place to winter. My husband and I have been here once before and fell in love with the culture, climate, and cool things to do to stay active. But this year, something is not quite right. I have an aching pressure building up behind my eyes and I feel like I can’t get enough air in my lungs, no matter how deeply I try to breathe. Because I can’t breathe. I am scared. I am worried something major is wrong with me. I can’t get out and do the things we enjoy, like hiking and sightseeing. And work… not past two o’clock. By that time, my head feels like a radiator about to blow. I go to the Doctor where they put me on oxygen (more than once). They say my body is not adjusting to the elevation and see dangerous spiking in my blood pressure; all signs of elevation sickness.
The doctors believe it is elevation sickness but are baffled why I still have it after being there for over a month already. I tell them this is something I had been experiencing in recent flights as well. I held out as long as I could but eventually had to leave for home weeks early.
Damn elevation sickness – was it going to prevent me from doing something I love -travel? I hoped not but knew there were things I could control in the situation – how I perceived it.
So how did I start seeing the lemons for what they could be? First, I needed to make my health a priority again. Paying attention to numbers, test results, diet, medications, and their side effects. This led me to find out my gallbladder wasn’t working properly and on June 1st and I had it removed. Just like in business, we need to take responsibility and become our greatest advocates. You are just as important as your business, and it’s a lesson I’ve learned several times in my 18 years of being an entrepreneur.
Re-prioritizing the Buckets
Now that I recognize I needed to put my well-being back at the top of the list I needed to make some changes in my life. Redistributing the lemon bunches to different buckets in order to be processed in stages – baby steps even, helped me not only focus on what matters most but also shined a light on some potential sources of stress that needed weeding out.
Before burnout or major health risks show up for me, these are the following steps I put into place:
Stop everything I can. I pass off everything I can to my trusted team. I know this doesn’t seem possible to do, but when you reach burnout or hospitalization, everything will stop abruptly and without a plan…
Determine which lemons need to be dealt with asap. Like they are so close to over-ripe that they threaten to leak rot out everywhere. Those are your priorities. In my case, it was my health. If I didn’t want to stroke out, I needed to refocus my attention on my body and what it was responding to. That meant letting go of clients/projects.
3. Personally Advocate
It’s super easy for our voices to go unheard; our concerns to be shushed away by others in your life that may be going through some hardship or another, but you need to stand strong in your voice. This step always triggers memories from my childhood when I was finally diagnosed with ADHD. For years I felt like no one was hearing me – so if I don’t advocate for myself, who will?
A Solution then Tragedy
The procedure was finished and Avery was waiting to take me home. I am gallbladder-less now; time for healing. Not so fast, says the rotting lemons in those top baskets back at my stand. My phone rings – my sister’s house has burned down. They had only been there for 10 days. As the family was getting ready to grill their first meal at the house they had been waiting 3 years to buy, fire. Everyone got out safely but a total loss. Shock, grief, and tears as I talked to my sister.
That night, they all moved into our shared two-bedroom townhome. From three to seven in the blink of an eye, I feel helpless to do anything because I am recovering from that day’s surgery. This traumatic event just ripped through my family, so what can I do?
Apply these same steps:
- Pause – Time to stop and rethink.
- Prioritize – What can I rearrange to keep my own health as a priority while taking on some role of comfort and support for my sister and her homeless family?
My family needed me and I wasn’t able to focus, so my solution was to take the month of June off with client work to recover and my clients were so understanding. It is why it’s important to build strong trusting relationships with your clients. I also put my programs on pause and focused on building relationships instead of sales. I had financially reserved for this exact situation and I would suggest you do as well.
- Personally Advocate – I was honest when I explained the situation to all of our clients. Avery and I peeled back the workload to the bare minimum for the summer. We needed that time to help, care for, and support the people who mean the most to us, including ourselves.
Importance of Clarity
Clarity! The clear realization that we have done no work in a month and we survived financially, emotionally, and physically. The world did not implode and our clients were more than understanding – in fact, some even donated towards the rebuilding of my sister’s home! After all these years believing that I must work 50-60 work weeks just to make it, was finally disproved. All the planning, creation, and clarity we built in our businesses had laid the groundwork to support us and get us through this tough time. I no longer needed to prove to myself that I am – my clients knew me and my worth!
With every disastrous lemon that gets thrown in your face, there is a sweet lemonade brewing just on the other side. A story waiting to be told. True, not all lemons are disasters, most are just speed bumps that you can overcome by getting clarity, understanding the lessons learned, skills built and the empowerment of survival will help you grind and smash the pulp and seeds of the next lemon.
Know yourself, your vision, and your financials so when life serves up a plate full of lemons, you can take it on.