While reading one of many “art of the craft books,” I came across what I now call “the 20-minute rule,” or “the art of productively grieving your losses.”
Let’s take an example: you apply for a new job. It’s the job. It’s the job you know you’re perfect for. You’ve been waiting for this position to open up. It opened up, and it is your job. So you apply and you kick back because hey — you’ve got a new job. Until you don’t. Until you get the letter saying, “Thanks for your application, but…”
You now have 20 minutes. You have 20 minutes to wallow and to feel sad and sorry for yourself because this was your time. Open the freezer. Grab some chunky monkey. Listen to some of Ingrid Michaelson’s more depressing tunes. This is your 20 minutes to mourn your loss. Set your timer, and have at it.
The timer just went off. 20 minutes are up. Now get up, and let’s try this again.
Your losses define you but not in the way you think. One of the most moving quotes I’ve ever read was from Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”
Your losses define you in that they force you to decide the type of person you want to be when it comes to handling adversity. No one enjoys rejection. But to think that everything in life is going to be smooth sailing is unrealistic. You are well within your rights to mourn your losses, but let’s mourn our losses productively.
Here are some suggestions of ways to use your 20 minutes:
Call a friend.
Share what happened. Vent. Let it out — we need community and support. We were not meant to live in a bubble.
Analyze the loss.
What can you learn from this experience? Is there something that you could change for next time? Is there a new approach you can take?
Write down your feelings.
The whole point of this 20 minutes is to process. It’s to allow your body and your mind to move through the grief in a healthy way. If talking isn’t your thing, write down what you’re going through.
After the 20 minutes:
This is where you hit delete. This will be different for everyone, but I literally hit delete on messages of bad news. It’s a way for me to physically (or digitally) clear my mind and space of negative energy.
I didn’t get into a writing program? 20 minutes, then delete. I didn’t land a new job? 20 minutes, then delete.
Wipe your slate clean, pick up your pieces, and let’s reset. Yep, you hit a brick wall, but maybe, just maybe, if you channel all of your dejection and hurt into productive, fiery hot fuel, you’ll run at the wall with renewed force — and this time, you might break through.
Make some edits.
Pick up your resume or cover letter or website, and make some changes. Even the smallest of tweaks will help you to feel like you are preparing for the next big thing. It’s a move forward.
Reconnect with an old colleague. Friend someone on LinkedIn. Post a new picture to Instagram. A small act of networking can make you feel like you are taking back the reigns, and whatever rejection you’ve experienced does NOT make you any less of the boss babe you are.
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