Seven Steps to Become More Resilient: The Birthday Edition

It has not been pretty.


In reality, it has been the complete opposite of pretty. It has been overwhelmingly ugly. What’s that? It is my attitude. It is my feelings about myself. It is my angst about turning a year older.


You see, today is my birthday.


Normally, in Ashley Land, my birthday is absolutely cause for celebration. I am known for planning multiple activities to honor the date of my birth. I am usually the girl who turns my birthday celebration into Ashley-Palooza or Ashtravaganza or some other ridiculous name. I have thrown at least two Ashley-Can’t-Swim pool parties to commemorate my birth (yes, I love a pool party even though I don’t swim – swimming is for other people, people who don’t mind being wet around other people). But, for the past three weeks (maybe longer), I have been dealing with an unrelenting sense of dread.


The ninth anniversary of my 25th year has brought out all the feels. And for those who know me well, I’m usually not an overly emotional person. I usually tend to gravitate towards being super intense, passionate, and energetic or I’m super logical, analytical, and strategic. In short, I’m a high energy, high activity, well-prepared and well thought out person. I’m sometimes annoyed and irritated. I am rarely angry. If I’m ever sad, I get over it quickly. Needless to say, it was shocking to me that I would feel so down around what is usually one of the most riveting times of my year.


I’ve been down because I feel as if I haven’t accomplished enough this year. I’m down because I haven’t met all of my financial goals. I’m down because my business cash flow issues persist. I’m down because I wish I was farther along in my business. I’m down because I’ve made some business decisions that haven’t panned out as well as I had hoped. I’m down because I still haven’t gotten uncomfortable enough to lose weight. I’m down because I want more – more everything – health, wealth, business, ideas, people, peace, clothes, bomb accessories, good food, amazing hair, beautiful eyebrows, clear skin, and everything else.


Most of all, I’ve been down because my 34th year doesn’t match my expectations and my plan. That is my life philosophy, planning things, anticipating things, making all the things in the world happen. In my world, I dream it. I plan it. I do it. No matter what.


I help other people do it, too. That’s why I started hosting Dream It. Live It. – Vision Your Way to Success, a vision board and life strategy party (think: creating a vision board, but also creating a realistic plan to achieve everything on your board). That’s why I created three versions of The Dream Planner, a goal setting and vision realization guide. It’s why I host DreamFest Digital, an online conference designed to help emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs create the life and business they desire. It’s why I created Ready? Set? Go! which helps emerging business owners develop a plan to create and monetize their brand awareness. It’s why I just released an e-book, F Your Gonna, to help people spring into action.


It’s why DENOR’s strategic planning workshops are the bomb! It’s why people pay me to tell them what they should do next. It’s why established businesses and organizations pay me to tell them what they should do and help them act on it.


My entire world is strategy, planning, and action.


But what’s not so obvious in all the planning and activity is that sometimes things don’t go as planned – even for the ultimate strategic planner and the most enthusiastic doer. In all of my planning and preparing for this year, I have fallen short. I’m not nearly as fabulous as I hope to be. I’m not nearly successful as I wish to be. My business isn’t as amazing as I want it to be. I have not lived up to my (admittedly, very high) expectations.


So, I’ve been moping around a little. My Eric called me on my B.S. He pointed out some of my accomplishments and he also reminded me that instead of obsessing over what has gone wrong in 2017, I should focus more of my energy on all the reasons I should be grateful. So, I thought very hard about this and I forced myself to do something I’d seen in magazines and on social media: I started a grateful jar (well, it’s currently a pile of colored paper on my bed, but I digress) to highlight everything I should be thankful for.


As it turns out – despite all of my recent and many failures – I have a lot for which to be grateful, even in my sea of disappointment about my life and business.


The colored sheets of paper on my bed prove it. Among a billion other things, I have health. I have family. I have friends. I have you, dear reader. I have peace, love, safety, shelter, food, water, clean clothes – I have life.


Still, even with my acknowledgement of all my gratitude I still felt slightly disappointed in my current state. I sat in it for a while, but then I remembered something else about me – I am incredibly resilient. And then, everything I know about resilience kicked in. I began to recall everything that I teach youngsters and aspiring entrepreneurs about creating the capacity to overcome extreme difficulties. I decided to follow my own advice.


It is in that spirit that I share my seven steps to becoming a more resilient person. Hopefully, it helps you the next time you’re faced with a hardship.


Accept the defeat.


This is not the same thing as quitting.


This is much different. There is a fine line between being a quitter and knowing when to pivot. This is acknowledging when things have gone awry and knowing when to make a slight adjustment. This is becoming so uncomfortable with mediocrity or your failure or your plan that’s gone haywire that the only thing you can do is pivot in a different direction.


Resilience does not demand you keep trying at things that will not work. Resilience is knowing when to move in a different direction.


Honor the lesson.


There is a reason your plan did not work the way you intended. There is a reason things are falling apart. When the sky is falling, it is not mere happenstance. Things often fall apart because there is something we need to learn in order to get to the next success.


The key to becoming more resilient is to know there is a lesson to be learned in every single situation – good or bad. In order to successfully bounce back from those bad situations, we have to be ready to learn the lesson so that we don’t end up repeating the negative/painful/heartbreaking/disastrous scenario.


Have the Pity Party.


It’s OK to break down. It’s totally fine to feel bad that something didn’t work out as you intended. It’s normal to vent.


But don’t dwell on it.


Give yourself a short (read: like 5 minutes) time to feel sorry for yourself. Resilient people embrace the disappointment and move on quickly.


Express Gratitude.


Be grateful for the lesson and grateful for another chance to get it right.


I tried my hand at expressing gratitude with the colored sheets on my bed. It works. Be thankful for what is working in your life. I’ve learned that truly resilient people are thankful people.




Russell Simmons said it best: “Good getters are good givers.”  I practice this often through giving of my time and resources. I realized that I don’t give of myself to get something physical or tangible. I give of myself because it gives me life to do it. While I’m giving people my time or my knowledge or my resources, I’m also giving myself joy.




Plan A didn’t work? No worry. Move on the Plan B, then Plan C, then Plan D, and so on.


It’s totally acceptable to come up with a revised game plan or a totally new one. You do not have to keep going down the wrong path because it’s the one you happen to be on at the moment. You can create a new path. That’s the essence of resilience.


Press on.


Keep going.


Things happen. Things go wrong. That’s ok.


Nothing but you can stop you. Resilient people understand this. Most importantly, they keep moving.


As I told college students in Memphis and high school students in Shreveport this year, “Success is not guaranteed to those who look the best, or know the most people, or who work the hardest, or have the easiest life, or who never make mistakes. Success is only guaranteed to those who can withstand the pains of their losses – no matter how difficult or embarrassing.”


That is THE key to resilience.


It is all about facing the hardship and overcoming it. I work on this daily. I’ve certainly worked on it this month.


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