Hitting rock bottom is one thing. Accepting and embracing it is another. At one point in our lives, this is where some of us find ourselves in – a place where despair & hopelessness seem to be the primary emotions we feel.

For many of us, hitting rock bottom may have different definitions. It can mean having a hard time getting work after being laid off or continuing to work for a company for the last ten years but finding it a drag to go to work every day. It may mean being a top-honcho in your office, envied by many, but silently wanting to do other things that will give you that sense of fulfilment that you crave for. Or it may be finding yourself being sick of what you’re doing, where you’re at and who you’re with, itching with the desire to just get up and leave, and finally do what you believe is more important and meaningful.

Rock bottom scenarios may be different for each of us, but it does have one common factor – it places us at the lowest of lows, wrapping us up in anguish & misery, making us disheartened, dejected and desperate.

The first step out of that pit you’re in is to accept and embrace the situation. It may be easier said than done, but here are some ways to get, however slowly, out of it:

1: Forget “what used to be”. Stop thinking of where you used to be and what you used to do. Thinking about it only emphasises what you’ve lost and how things changed. Accept that whatever you do now, things will never be the way they used to. Instead, think of where you want to be.

2: Focus on what you would like to really do. Before things changed, what was it exactly that you dreamed of doing instead? List down your skills, competencies and experiences that are aligned to that dream of yours. Take courses or seminars, read up on the topics that will strengthen the skills you need. Perhaps there is no better time than now to go after doing just that.

3: Consider a career shift. As it is, you’re not happy where you’re at. What are your interests? What is meaningful to you? What will give you that real sense of fulfillment at the end of the day? What would you like to accomplish at this point in your life? It may not be as life-changing as you fear it would be. And no one is definitely too late or too old to pursue new things.

4: Diversify. Consider doing something that is a step or two away from what you’re doing now. It does not have to be totally different; perhaps venturing into a more specialised field (i.e. Shift from general marketing to e-marketing or from banking into fund portfolio management). Use where you’re at now as a starting point.

5: Use your network. Consolidate your contacts, categorise them into groups and tap the ones who can help or lead you to what you want to do and where you want to go. People you’ve met or worked with in the past already know what you can do. They know your strengths. They can point you to the right direction.

6: Ask yourself: if money was no question, what kind of work would be meaningful for me? For those who still feel empty despite the monetary rewards of a successful career, it would be a good time to reflect and identify exactly what is more important for you. Turn around that feeling of emptiness into a purposeful pursuit. Do what you believe is worthwhile.

7: Channel the negative emotions into positive action. The key to getting out of this pit is to not lose heart. Nelson Mandela spoke of his unconquerable soul while looking out into the darkness of the night from his prison cell window. Remember the stories of people who have been through worse and yet have successfully bounced back, better, stronger, and ultimately happier.

Negative feelings of pain, anger and despair are powerful. You just have to find a way to harness them into positive energy. Do not be disheartened, do not be dispirited. Keep in mind your strengths and what you can accomplish with them.

After all, when you’re at rock bottom, there is no other way but up.

Photo from Flickr jar0d

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Paul Bailey

Paul is a highly experienced Business Coach, Mentor and Personal Development Specialist. He works with people to enhance business and personal performance through a process of supported self-awareness and self- development. Paul is the Co-Author of the book 80 Tips.