How to Recover From a One-Two Punch Life Event

Sometimes life hits us hard with an adverse event throwing us off balance. In return, we react, we adjust, we recover. But what happens when two major life issues clobber an individual in one year? What is the process for getting up, fighting back, and returning to normalcy?  

   A client of mine learned to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and rebuild. For Rhonda, it started when her long-term job with a major financial institution was made redundant. Walking out the door on her last day with her pink slip and severance package in hand, she stayed positive. She did something quite wise, Rhonda decided to take a breather. She deferred our work on her job search for 30 days.

     When I caught up with my client to schedule our first session, she answered the phone in a calm, professional manner. It was what she said next that left me with no words. Rhonda explained she was sitting in a hotel room with her husband and two dogs because her home burnt to the ground in a Northern California fire. 

Picking Up the Pieces

     There you have it, folks, two major life events mere weeks apart, both traumatic, both requiring emotional and financial recovery. Where to start? After processing the initial shock of dual events, Rhonda drew on her resilient nature and began to design a plan. Although highly independent, she knew she must ask for and accept help from friends and agencies. The family made plans to move out of the hotel and into the home of a distant cousin.

     After some counseling and joining a support group, Rhonda and her spouse began finding glimmers of that elusive silver lining.

Now unencumbered by a mortgage payment and Rhonda’s job, the two began discussions about fulfilling a dream and moving to Colorado. While warming to their newfound freedom, their burden became lighter as they anticipated positive psychological changes.

Trauma Recovery

     I suspect at the outset of the tragedy; the couple experienced situational depression. Who wouldn’t? Rhonda told me they left their home mere minutes before the fire consumed it.

     People do recover from trauma, and looking back, Rhonda reports having a stronger appreciation for life. Those two events stacked one upon the other were severe, but change often provides new opportunities. 

     In tough situations, lean into resilience, but the life lesson here is don’t try to go it alone. Whenever a traumatic event impacts your life, ask for help, seek counseling, and as you work through recovery, train your brain to see the positive.

Dear Reader,

When the COVID-19 crisis is over, I suspect there will be multiple stories regarding one-two punch life events. I am publishing this today, to remind us, that on the other side of the toughest situations, it is possible to rebuild.

Stay safe.



Bouncing Back After Going Down Swinging

Back view of business woman with boxing gloves on a white

As a career coach I encounter clients who are down on the mat and often temporarily out for the count. Many have lost their jobs based on corporate restructurings; others experienced a bad break due to personal relationships, business ventures or other significant life zingers. At one time or another, each of us has experienced a severe left jab or even a devastating one-two combination.

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When you find yourself dazed from a blow you never anticipated, there is nothing left to do but plan your comeback. Begin by acknowledging it might have been unfair, but it happened and it’s okay to admit how much it hurt. Throw yourself a pity party but keep it brief and then crash your own party by employing some techniques to help you bounce back.

Review the circumstances and challenge yourself to find one positive nugget in the mix. There is always something constructive to be gained from a negative situation. If you are coming up blank, talk to a trusted friend or advisor to help you glean a glimpse of that silver lining.

Know your situation is temporary. You have the ability to work through the crisis. Boxing legend Muhammed Ali carved out his amazing career by never giving up on himself. Ali said, “It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges and I believe in myself.”   To bounce back you must be self-reliant.


Regain your footing by asking for support. Don’t try to go it alone. Engage your network. You can never have enough cheerleaders. Let your friends provide help and encouragement to boost your morale. Positive reinforcement from positive people around you enables you to start rebuilding or reinventing your life.

Think about it. Now may be an ideal time to start fresh in a new direction. If you lost your job, perhaps you realized it wasn’t the best match for you anyway. Define your passion. What kind of a career or position would make your heart sing? Get curious. Do some soul searching and research. Then come up with an action plan and set some short-term and future goals.

Whatever it was that brought you down, the wrong Price Charming

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or the dreaded pink slip, making a comeback begins with the first step. Once you initiate that move away from ground zero the remainder of the journey is pure momentum. Go for it. You are ready to power through any obstacles and show the world you are a resilient winner who, armed with a new plan, can go the distance.