How to turn life challenges into positive outcomes

Life, though a gift worth celebrating every moment, has its own plethora of challenges. These challenges of life are not to crush us but to make us even better.

One of my favorite expressions is one I learned in junior high school — “every cloud has a silver lining.” It has inspired a lot of confidence in me even in the face of very daunting difficulties. Since my school days, I have come to better appreciate this saying through life experiences, and it has been a great reminder in times of difficulties.

Challenges in life are inevitable. We must not be taken aback when we are confronted in life with a small snag or a problem of monstrous dimensions. While some people allow themselves to be crushed by such problems, others turn them into positive outcomes. The difference lies in how we approach life challenges. The following approaches to life challenges can greatly help to turn them into positive outcomes:

Accept life challenges

Most often we tend to resist challenges with passion when, in fact, we must accept them. Accepting challenges does not mean we should just allow the challenges to overwhelm us but rather we should accept that challenges are opportunities for us to grow and therefore must not be despised or allowed to scare you. We should patiently meet the challenge head-on and not try to find ways to cut corners.

I remember when I finished senior high school and took my university entrance examination, I performed very abysmally. I wanted to study physics, but my poor performance in the exam could not get me admission into the university. Instead of calmly accepting the challenge of being left in limbo after high school, I rather decided to explore some backdoor means of getting into the university through a professor I knew. However, this professor could not offer any serious help. Eventually, I was forced to accept my new situation. How I wished I had done that earlier and learned new ways of growing in my situation.

Adapt to your new circumstances

After accepting the challenge, you must begin the process of growing by adapting to your new circumstances. The Longman English dictionary aptly defines adapt as ”to gradually change your behaviour and attitudes so that you get used to a new situation and can deal with it successfully.” This definition perfectly hits the nail on the head. You must learn the requirements of your new situation and explore right and acceptable ways of dealing with it successfully.

Five years ago, my cousin Elvis, who had completed his first degree, was hunting for a job which proved extremely difficult to get. After many months of failed attempts, he eventually accepted his condition and then began to adapt to it by finding ways of adding more value to his degree. He decided to spend one more year to take a couple of IT courses. This exercise made him more competitive and more qualified. A few months afterwards, he landed a very good job with one of the leading banks in Ghana.

Learn a lesson from the challenge

Every challenge presents us with the opportunity to learn something new. Examine the causes of the problem and find out how you can avert a recurrence. Also, making efforts to overcome your difficulties allows you to learn many new things. For instance, if you were involved in a fender bender just for lack of patience, you can begin to cultivate the quality of patience.

A friend related to me how she went through difficult times with her family when her mother was severely sick to the point that she almost passed away. She told me how those trying moments taught her how to appreciate the life of her mother. Nelson Mandela, during his 27 years in prison, used part of the period to engage in academic exercises. What would have crushed someone, Mandela used as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Make a definite effort to get out of your current situation

After learning the lessons and making all the adaptations the situation requires of you, you must make a decisive effort to improve. You must put into practice all the great lessons gleaned from the experiences you have been through as a result of the challenge. The lessons learned are meant to make you a better person. Therefore, it would be unwise to just keep these lessons without translating them into real change. You must hit the ground running. If you have lost a job, you may be required to take some new courses to enhance your prospects of getting a new job. Continued hunting for a new job without any further development does not really help the situation.

We are bound to face challenges in life. This knowledge of their inevitability is not what really matters. What really matters is how you deal with these challenges when they come. How you choose to approach challenges determines what becomes of them. They can be for good or they can be for bad. However, if you really desire to turn challenges into positive outcomes, then you must meet them with the right attitude.

Michael Ohene Aboagye

Michael Ohene Aboagye lives in Accra, Ghana. He is a graduate of the prestigious Ghana Institute of Journalism, holding a bachelor's degree in communication studies.