How to Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Today we welcome back our regular Thursday contributor, Jen from The Happy Homeowner!

Life is a roller coaster ride. From the highs to the lows, there’s a plethora of experiences, challenges, and opportunities that move us through each day. As we continue through the ebb and flow of it, we can be fortunate to experience very high highs, but we can also unfortunately experience very low lows.

Rather than dwelling on these lows and wallowing in the pain and suffering they often bring along with them, what if you were able to re-frame your thinking in a way that afforded you an opportunity to turn your setbacks into opportunities? What if you could turn those proverbial lemons into the sweetest lemonade you’ve ever tasted?

Change Your Thinking

The fact of the matter is that with every experience or situation you encounter, you have a choice in how you respond. If you’re drowning in credit card debt and the collectors are calling, you could ignore the situation by ignoring their phone calls. On the flip side, you could resolve yourself to face the situation head-on and commit to eradicating the debt and building a better financial future for yourself. If you’re stressed and overwhelmed, you could use negative coping mechanisms such as drinking, shopping, and gambling to numb your thoughts and senses. Or you could seek out help, find healthy releases through an active lifestyle, and commit to making lasting change.

When you’re faced with a challenging situation, your response is key in how you’ll be able to move on from it. By working to change the way you think about what’s happening, you open up an entire world filled with possibility. When you move from being reactive to proactive, you also set in motion a chain of events that often brings peace and understanding rather than stress and confusion.

Consider All of Your Options

When stress happens, our bodies, minds, and emotions launch into overdrive. From the physical effects to the mental exhaustion, stress can wreak havoc on every aspect of our life if we’re not careful. It’s easy to shut down, shut off, and shut out when things aren’t going the way we’d hoped, planned, or expected. Before you make an immediate decision, take time to fully process what’s happening so you’re aware of all of your options for how to respond and move forward.

Some of these options include educating yourself (for example, if you’re struggling with debt or a spending problem, learning about the various strategies can help you get started–education is power!), identifying your issues/triggers and taking action to resolve them, seeking the support and help of others, or even simply taking a break (put away the budget, take a walk, and clear your head–when you return to it, you’ll most likely see things in a different light). It can be quite liberating to know you have options and choices when things are tough, so ensure you’re putting your best foot forward by slowing down long enough to identify all of the decisions you have the power to make.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Chances are, the stress and challenges you’re facing have something to do with a mistake you’ve made, a behavior you need to change that you haven’t yet remedied, or an external force/factor/event that you didn’t see coming. In all of these situations, there is a huge opportunity to learn. If you take the time to adequately process what you’re going through and don’t hide behind defenses, poor coping, or denial, you can learn now what you need to do to ensure this never happens again tomorrow.

One of my favorite quotes is the following:

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”

What will you do today to ensure that you’re turning your challenges of tomorrow into opportunities?

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  1. I seem to avoid the highs and lows by just doing a little planning, handling problems proactively and avoiding many pitfalls. I can find opportunities because I am not constantly fighting brush fires. You know those small silly problems that come up if you do not plan.

  2. I really enjoy challenges I guess that is because I get bored very easily. I seem them as a chance for me to learn and grow. More importantly changing my thinking has done wonders as you mentioned. Since I enjoy challenges I usually find that more things come to since I am more open to working on them.

    • I agree!! Great outlook–it makes things easier to have the positive perspective in advance so when challenges present themselves, it’s not so difficult to work through them.

  3. I try to take it one day at a time. If there is a problem, there is a solution. It may take time to find, but there must be one. So rather than letting it lapse for days, I try to tackle the challenge when it comes. It will only be harder after procrastinating for a month.

    • Excellent advice! Dealing with something as it happens is always easier than putting it off until later–even if it seems hard to do at the time…

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