There’s little that changes your life as intensely as hitting rock bottom. Whether it’s a personal low or a professional setback, it's something we all go through at various stages of our lives.
The experience usually leaves us feeling dreadful, coupled with feelings of being helpless and a devastating certainty you will never rise up again. But, somehow, most of us do.
There are ways to use “rock bottom” to push yourself up into a position where you not only thrive, but you create a better version of yourself.
In 2004 Lisa Messenger, CEO of Collective Hub, hit her lowest point.
Lisa says she’d been drinking too much, she’d alienated her family and she was living life according to other people’s expectations.
Yet she believes hitting rock bottom ended up being the greatest place for her.
“My life was spiraling out of control quite quickly. So I decided to go to a retreat called the Hoffman Process and I literally walked in one person and walked out a new person,” Lisa says.
“That was when I wrote my first book, Happiness Is because I was so desperate to have a new beginning. With that book, I launched my publishing career and managed to turn my life around."
She also experienced a 'career rock bottom'.
“When I launched Collective Hub as a print magazine in 2013, it was a career rock bottom, because I was too comfortable doing what I was doing," Lisa admits.\
Lisa Messenger (Picture: supplied)
According to Lisa, many of us end up feeling disenchanted with our work life. It’s easy to get roped into a pattern of complaining about a 9-5 job, or feeling like we’re stuck in a career that doesn’t use our talents or serve any purpose for us.
“We all have two options: either continue to complain about being unhappy in your work, or be courageous and tell yourself, ‘This career isn’t serving me, I don’t feel like I’m in my power, I don’t feel like I’m living my vision,'" she says.
“So the most courageous thing you can do is to break everything, seek help and actually make the changes that you know you need to make.
"It’s about reframing your purpose and ask yourself the big questions.”
What are the big questions? Lisa believes you need to ask yourself: 'Does this job make me want to jump out of bed every morning?' or 'Is this the best use of me?' or 'Is money the most important thing? How much could I survive on this year?'
When Melanie* hit her rock bottom, she was going through a divorce and her ex-partner was trying to take half of her business away from her. On top of this, she was also dealing with an addiction to painkillers.
“I managed to reach out for help to clean up my drug dependency, and then I had to deal with the financial side of my divorce and the realization my business was going to go under,” Melanie says.
“That’s what made me realize that, if I lost my business, was I really going to be devastated? Apart from the money side of it, working in recruitment wasn’t my passion.
"So, when everything fell apart in my life I decided to do something different."
Melanie accepted a payout from her ex-partner and used the money to start a new business, focusing on what she calls her “real passion” – writing.
She’s now got a successful copywriting business, working from home.
“But if I hadn’t hit rock bottom in the first place, none of the good things would be happening to me now, so it really was a blessing in disguise," she adds.
Another way to lift yourself up is to make a list of what you’re passionate about and see how you can turn one of those things into a side hustle.
Lisa Messenger with Benny (Picture: supplied)
Lisa advises people to find ways to reignite their passion – even if it’s not possible for you to jump completely out of your current job right away.
“A side business is a great way to make you feel alive again," Lisa says.
"Explore different sides of yourself creatively. You might be a lawyer by day, but you could learn a musical instrument or a new language by night.
“If you feel like you don’t have a grip on where your life is headed, or that you have talents that you’re not using, it’s time to get started – just start anything, even if it’s just writing up a wish list or a plan.
"There are so many ways we can utilize our passion and our skills to get ourselves out of a difficult situation.”