I thought 2022 was gonna be my year, but it’s not exactly starting out as planned! Sound familiar?
I wonder if I need a bit of reset? Maybe *my year* is not about having everything go my way but about learning how to adapt when things don’t? If that’s that case – which I suspect is true – then I need a little guidance. That’s why I’m loving the book Adaptable: How to Lead with Curiosity, Pivot with Purpose, and Thrive through Change by Alexa Carlin. Alexa knows a thing or two about life’s hurdles! At 21, she was induced into a medical coma and given a one-percent chance to live. In Adaptable, she shares the stories of her journey, offering powerful insights into hope, courage and life’s challenges.
Written in a heartfelt tone, Adaptable invites us to develop a new perspective on our past and current obstacles. The stories, lessons, and action steps that fill each chapter gently guide us back to our true selves, allowing us to connect with our true purpose.
Sounds kinda magical, eh? Well, you can judge for yourself! Here’s an excerpt:
This self-evident truth
Your life isn’t defined by how many times you succeed, but rather how many times you fall and decide to get back up.
Life, people, events may knock you down, but they can only keep you down if you decide to let them. Nothing can defeat you without your permission.
This self-evident truth should be something you hold on to in order to push forward and chase after what you want in this life, yet the fear and uncertainty of the knockdowns hold so many people back. You have the power to always rise again and to be straightforward with yourself, no amount of “playing it safe” will keep you from the hardships of life.
You can’t escape it. You can’t hide from it. So, you may as well do what you want while you are here. Take risks. Dream big and then dream bigger. Try something new. Speak up. Stand tall. Go on an adventure. Get lost. Get found. Be goofy. Color outside the lines. Just do you.
Because, at the end of the day, no matter what you do or what you experience, you have a choice: Stay knocked down or get back up.
The decision is up to you. You do have the strength, you do have the power, you do have the potential to bounce back.
There is no way around the fact that life will knock you down, but you don’t have to let it keep you down. It is your job to train yourself and your mind to have the strength to always rise again.
I could have easily stayed down. I was knocked down one tragedy after the next for seven straight years.
My victim mindset, the triggers of post-traumatic stress, and the fear are consistent companions that I must negotiate with each day. They are very much a part of who I am, but they do not define what I can or cannot do.
I would love to say I had one huge knockdown and since then have been able to come back stronger than ever, yet this is farthest from the truth.
Because I haven’t had just one knockdown, I’ve been knocked down over and over and over again.
And I’m still going through the knockdowns.
One hit after another
I don’t have all the answers figured out or have this “perfect” life, but regardless, I’m still chasing after my dreams. I’m deciding every single day to stand back up because that is what you must do in order to live the life you deserve.
And I hope this book will help you make the same decision on your own journey.
For seven straight years I experienced one hit after another. From my sister almost taking her own life, to my near-death experience being given a one percent chance to live, to my dad losing his business, to a close relative relapsing on drugs, to my parents splitting up briefly, to my family dog’s sudden death, then the external family disowning my own family, followed by getting diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, then struggling with this debilitating illness, to countless hospital stays, and multiple moves across the country, to lots and lots of loss, heartbreak, and obstacles …
I lived in fear every day for those seven years. Every time my mom called just to say hello my heart began to race as the PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder) would trigger and I’d be nervous to hear what she had to say on the phone, nervous that again, something bad was happening. (And my mom called me probably ten to twenty times a day.)
It took me a very long time and a lot of strength to try and come out of this constant fear and I’ll be honest, I’m still working on it. I’m not completely free from living in the past because it’s so engrained inside of me.
When I was twenty-one years old, I had a near-death experience that changed my entire life, when a deadly bacteria got into my bloodstream and left me in a coma fighting for my life in the intensive care unit with only a one-percent chance of survival. I thought that this was the one big knockdown I’d have to overcome, yet six months after that I was diagnosed with a debilitating chronic illness, ulcerative colitis. Now this was the hardest thing I’d ever have to try and come back from.
Each time I thought I was on the path to remission, I’d get knocked down again.
Trust the journey
One year after my near-death experience and a few months after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I moved back home to South Florida to gain the support of my family. I left all my dreams in New York City behind, thinking that would be a fresh start. Yet a few weeks after the move, my grandma passed away and I found myself again in the hospital diagnosed with yet another illness.
This is just one of many moments where I was trying to stand back up but before I even could get on my two feet, I was knocked down again by another obstacle.
Hit after hit, it became harder to trust the journey. It became harder to try and find hope.
When everything in your life is going okay, and you’re knocked down, you have more strength to get back up quicker. But what happens when you are already way down and you get hit again?
It gets harder to find the strength to stand up, to find the hope to not give up, and the willingness to want to even try again.
But when you understand how to rise again and again, no matter how low you are from all the knockdowns, that is when you become unstoppable.
You can have the greatest comeback in history when you learn how to commit to the decision that, no matter what, you will stand back up.
One way I do this every day is by reminding myself that my fearful thoughts are not who I am. They are a product of my past and I am the conscious being just experiencing them.
Just because these hardships happened in my past, they do not predict my future. And if I’m still standing after all I’ve been through, that must mean I can continue to come back from anything.
Light inside all that darkness
Another way to be able to have the greatest comeback, is to work to stand up while experiencing the knockdown. You don’t have to wait until it’s over.
Understand that it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out just yet. It is okay if you’re going through obstacles or tragedies right now as you’re reading this. Just because you are dealing with hard stuff that’s causing you pain does not mean you can’t also bring in the good things, like chasing after your dreams…
Through the seven years of tragedy, I was growing my businesses. I never stopped. My dreams were the light inside all that darkness.
If anyone or anything knocks me down today it may hurt, and it may push me back some; but I can promise you one thing: It will never be able to keep me down.
I’ll continue to stand and continue to rise until the day, I decide to give up, which will likely never, ever come.
In order to be able to live the life you love, live the life you’ve dreamt for yourself, all you have to do is keep on getting back up.
Nothing and noone can defeat you without your permission.
Everybody gets knocked down, the question becomes, how quickly are you going to get up?
Action Step: Create your C.O.M.E.B.A.C.K. story using the template below:
Courage– Write down one fear that you must gain the courage to move through, despite the fear.
Ex) I’m afraid I’m going to get sick again. I’m afraid people will judge me.
Opportunity– Discover one opportunity that is available for you today because of where you are.
Ex) I have the opportunity to be able to be near my family. I have the opportunity to start my own business.
Message– Write down the one message you want to share with the world.
Ex) You can always rise from any challenge regardless of circumstances.
Example– What’s a personal example of how you learned that lesson/ message?
Ex) Illness, a death, a failure, or getting fired… any specific time in your life where you learned the above message you wrote down.
Backstory– Vulnerably share the backstory of where you were then and how you pushed through to get to where you are today.
Ex) This is where you share more details on what led to you getting knocked down to the point where you discovered the lesson and message.
Action Steps– What are the exact action steps you took during that time?
Ex) I journaled, meditated, registered my business, moved to a new city… What did you do to get through the tough times that others can also do?
Create– What have you created or want to create because of this journey?
Ex) I now live in my dream home; I found my significant other; I started my dream business; I traveled the country. Write out what you created in your life as a direct result of going through the tough times. If you haven’t done it yet, this is where you can share what you want to create.
Knockdown Repeat– Write down one quote or mantra that will help you repeat this comeback story anytime you get knocked down.
Ex) I trust the journey. I am strong and resilient.
Example of my Comeback Story using the outline provided: I’m still afraid every day I’ll get sick, something bad will happen in my family, or my dreams won’t work out as I intend but I fear regret more than I fear failure and because of this, I decide to push through. There are so many opportunities that lie ahead for me to share my story and grow my business that I must not give up. I want to show people that regardless of the circumstances they encounter, they have the strength to continue to rise above and achieve their dreams. I know this because I experienced it firsthand. From my near-death experience to my autoimmune disease, I’ve been knocked down too many times to count, and for a long time I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do the things I always dreamt. One day, I decided to stop playing the victim and start taking action. When no one would give me an opportunity to speak and share my story, I created my own stage with my own events. I shared my journey vulnerably every day on social media and I began to take one action step a day to grow my business. I now get to do what I love full-time, I met the person of my dreams, and I’m finally at a point where I’m healthy and happy. It wasn’t easy and still isn’t, but through this journey I know I will always be able to stand tall after getting knocked down. Every day I remind myself how strong I am and allow myself to surrender to the journey, knowing that everything is going to be okay as long as I never give up.
Once you have your template of your Comeback Story written, you can then elaborate on it. It’s important to take the time to write your story out so you have it to come back to when the tough times do come your way. You need to always remind yourself just how strong and resilient you are.
Know that everyone (and I mean everyone) has a Comeback Story and I’m challenging you to discover yours and then share it with others. You never know how your story will change someone’s life.
Everyone loves a good underdog story.
Reprinted with permission from Adaptable: How to Lead with Curiosity, Pivot with Purpose, and Thrive through Change.