Roll with the punches. What does it mean? Initially a phrase used in boxing: i.e. move one’s body away from an opponent’s blows so as to lessen the impact. In modern language, an idiom: cope with and withstand adversity, especially by being flexible. No matter how you define it, we have all heard this phrase before.
I think we can all relate to a moment when something didn’t happen the way we hoped. A presentation didn’t go well. You got fired from a job, or laid-off. The car’s engine died and you’re scrambling to find the finances to get it repaired. The move you had planned didn’t go smoothly and your living circumstances are less than ideal. A relationship didn’t have the happy ending you hoped for. You and your friend are at odds over a fight.
Conditions in life can change in the blink of an eye. Sometimes we have to change our course of action quickly, especially when circumstances don’t go the way we plan. As a boxer has to learn how to lessen the blows of their opponent’s move, we too have to learn how to lessen the blows that life gives us.
Here are 8 tips for rolling with the punches:
1. Change what is in your control.
If there is a way you can make your situation better that doesn’t jeopardize you or someone else, try it. What have you got to lose at this point? Sometimes simply changing one or two factors in our lives can turn around many other things.
2. Don’t get stuck.
What do I mean by this, exactly? We need to accept that life does change in an instant, and rather than get caught up in insisting that things stay as they are, we need to get “unstuck” and find a new way of dealing with something.
Change is inevitable and the sooner we accept this, the better we will be at rolling with the punches.
3. Make decisions.
Being indecisive is the worst way to deal with life’s blows. We have to make choices. Yes, sometimes those choices turn out to be ones that are difficult. But ultimately, we learn from the decisions we make (whether they are good or bad ones).
If you have a hard time, make a pros and cons list. I did this when applying for my first job, and it helped immensely.
4. If something is hard, acknowledge it.
It’s okay to admit when we are having a difficult time. Often that is the first step in realizing that we need to be better at rolling with the punches. It’s okay to be sad when your relationship of three years has ended and you are having a hard time with the break-up. Acknowledging this is merely a way of moving forward in the healing process.
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5. Trust your gut.
Pay attention to your instincts. We have them for a reason. When facing a crossroads of sorts, evaluate how you feel about the situation. Does it give you a good feeling, or are you feeling cautious and wary? Don’t ignore how you feel.
6. When something goes wrong, don’t shut down.
Don’t give up. If you are career driven and didn’t get the promotion you hoped for, don’t see it as the end of a road. Think about how you can further your degree, or apply for a different position elsewhere.
7. Learn from the situation.
Rolling with the punches means discovering what went wrong, learning from it, and optimizing future choices to avoid that happening again.
8. Stay positive.
It’s easy to get negative, especially if others around you are negative as well. Avoid putting yourself in a position where you are surrounded by negativity.
Life won’t always be sunshine, but by reminding yourself that good times exist (even if the moment is dark and dreary) you are allowing yourself to stay positive.
In the end, rolling with the punches means accepting that life gives us some hard knocks sometimes. How we react in the moment to lessen that blow is what really matters the most. It’s not always about the optimal conditions or outcome, but the optimal approach to dealing with the situations we face on a daily basis.