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Option B & Managing Loss

How’s your Option A going? Did you have plans to land a job that didn’t come through? Or end a relationship you thought was going to be long-term? Maybe you started training for a race and got injured so you had to stop.

The reality is, sometimes our first plan, our Option A, doesn’t turn out the way we planned. We’re forced to look at and create an Option B. This is the focus of a new book collaboration between Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Adam Grant, author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. To figure out how we can grow and progress, Sheryl writes about making the most of her Option B after her husband’s unexpected death two years ago. She writes about facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy despite her circumstances.

Sandberg writes, “I was in the void, a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Have you ever experienced that type of pain or disappointment? Loss, rejection, and heartbreak can be difficult and traumatic. Where to go from here? How to rebuild? How to start again? Sandberg explains that resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Post-traumatic growth (the opposite experience of post-traumatic-stress-disorder, PTSD) is a result of the growing and stretching into our Option B. She identifies these outcomes as:

  1. finding personal strengths

  2. gaining appreciation

  3. forming deeper relationships

  4. discovering more meaning in life

  5. seeing new possibilities

What strengths and new possibilities have you seen come from a setback or a loss?

Maybe this is your moment to rise above, practice self-compassion, and redesign what’s next. Each moment counts just as each brushstroke in a painting creates a bigger masterpiece. Author Annie Dillard pointed out, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Building a life around peak experiences like the new job, house, or published article focuses on peak moments of happiness, but these are fleeting. It’s the small things we do every day that matter most. Tim Urban reinforces, “Happiness is the joy you find on hundreds of forgettable Wednesdays.” Isn’t that great and so true?!

The song “Closing Time” by Seneca perhaps reminds us best, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” So lay it out, create your Option B if Option A isn’t working or it’s no longer a possible path. Remember you’re creative, resourceful, and can get back up and thrive again.

What a beautiful reminder that when we can face adversity we can also build resilience, and again hope to find joy.

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