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“It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better.” Really?

It Gets Worse Before It Gets BetterWe have heard it before — “It is going to get worse before it gets better.”

There is a truism to the statement, but what a thought to grasp and try to work through. Daunting is an understatement, and encouragement can seem hollow.

What motivates people to make that statement – “It is going to get worse before it gets better”?

When someone says it, are we to smile and say “thanks for the words of inspiration”? Does this statement really make us feel better, or does it just prepare us for what lies ahead?

The basis is built more as a “when” certainty than an “if” possibility. When it gets worse, we will know that at some point in the future it will get better. I guess the point is, really, how can it get any worse? So, let’s look ahead to brighter days.

For the past decade – plus a few years, we feel like it just may get better soon, because it has been “worse” for some time now. Yet, some feel that it may get “even worse” before it does get better. I am now talking about the state of our economy and what it is doing to many people around the world.

Whether it is the economy or the state of our life, it doesn’t really matter, because it is all personal. It all impacts us and our homes.

So, how do we deal with this? How do we deal with the valleys in life?

There is no easy answer. When growing up on our farm, we just had to deal with it. In times of drought, we had to cut back, re-work how our livelihood was going to survive, and strengthen our backbone and inner spirit. We couldn’t afford to whine or wait; we had to balance our approach to our new reality.

In many ways, I believe this is the way we survive and thrive through our tough times. It is a combination of recede, re-work, and revive.

Recede. During those extreme times, we need to recede from certain things. If we are experiencing tough financial times, then we need to cut back on what we spend and, possibly, what we save. If we are experiencing tough personal challenges, then we may need to back off some relationships, especially those that are doing more harm than good.

It is a balance. It is not shrinking back from everything or crawling into shell. It is determining what is working and what is not and then cutting back on the things that are not helping or working for us during this time.

Re-work. Although we want to avoid these times, they do present some opportunity in that the bad times are good times to make big changes in how we live our life. After all, it is an adjustment time period, so we need to change. It should become a period of re-work.

If the past or present is not working, we need to focus on how to re-work what, when, and how we have worked. Re-work times can translate into career moves, time shifts (where we spend our time), and relationship changes.

We need to focus on why something isn’t working. It may take asking “why?” five times. It is an old quality improvement tool to get to the root cause of problems, and it can work in real life, too.

Think about it. First, ask “why is this happening?” Then, ask again, “Why is that happening?” Repeat five times for each answer. What you are left with may be the root cause of the problem. Now, focus on re-working that issue.

Use the tough times as an opportunity to re-work your work and actions. Come out of the bad times a better person. It may be easier said than done, but it may be the best – and only – way!

Revive. The challenging times need to be more than just about cutting back and changing what and how you do certain things. There needs to be a focus on your inner spirit, your core. It is essential to keep your spirits healthy. It is critical to strengthen your durability and capabilities.

These activities don’t have to cost money. Meditation is “free” to do. Reading is available through libraries and friends. Praying takes an open mind and spirit. Walking is a simple way to enhance your body. It doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, it may be the simple things that can revive your outlook.

Spend time thinking, exercising, and experiencing new things to revive your mind, body, and soul. Enhance your creativity, thought processes, and endurance.

Taking the recede, re-work, and revive approach through the bad times may be the best way to navigate to a new, better path. It is a critical life choice we need to make on how we act and react to the challenging times. We should try our hardest to look up and within to move forward in the best way possible. After all,”… it gets better.”

What would you add? How do you take advantage of bad times? What advice do you give people?

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and is a leadership populist, writing to empower Millennial leaders. When we share experiences rather than focus on differences, we realize a thin difference between two generations and a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story.
Jon Mertz

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