by Niall Doherty

RSS and e-mail readers, please click here to watch the video that accompanies this post.

My laptop crashed this morning.

I was working away on my manifesto, diligently filling my daily quota of 1,000 written words, when suddenly everything froze. After 20 minutes of waiting, I rebooted to an unwavering gray screen. I looked up a few troubleshooting tips via my iPhone, tried those. Nothing made a difference, so I decided to seek professional help.

I found the ATMac folks in Cork and handed my MacBook Pro over to them. Turns out my hard drive had called it quits; a replacement cost me €224. It’s unlikely that they can recover the data from my old drive, and even if they do, the recovery process could cost as much as €300. I told them to give it a shot, since I have a lot of files and applications I’d rather not lose. I’ll know by Saturday how it all turns out.

  • Best case scenario: I’m down about €525 and lost a few hours of work.
  • Worst case scenario: I’m down about €300, lost a few hours of work, my entire Adobe suite and a bunch of source files for dozens of projects (several of which I neglected to back up).

This wasn’t part of the plan

Before I quit my day job back in November I spent months skimping and saving in preparation for early-2011, knowing I’d be trying to get my business off the ground and wouldn’t have a consistent source of income. I’ve made note of every penny I’ve spent for the last month, and have been careful to stick to a budget I’ve set for myself. In addition, I’m currently juggling several projects, and can’t afford to waste many hours if I want to hit my deadlines.

So this whole laptop crash comes at perhaps the worst possible time for me.

Choosing a response

As I’ve written about before on this blog, I believe everything is a choice. I’ve learned from Viktor Frankl that between stimulus and response lies our greatest power; the power to choose. A stimulus for me is this whole laptop-crash situation, and I have a host of responses to choose from. Here are two of them:

Response A

I can get upset about it, curse my luck and spend a few days feeling sorry for myself. I can push back the release of my first manifesto (or give up on it altogether), cancel the volunteer work I have scheduled for tomorrow, and tell my brother that I won’t be able to build that new website for his business (there’s a good chance I’ve lost the source files for the finished design).

Response B

I can frame this as a challenge to be overcome, a test from God or the Universe or whoever to see how determined I am to make this self-employment thing work. I can step back and look at the big picture, realizing that none of what happened today will really matter a few weeks or months or years from now. I can improvise and get creative to make up for the time/money/data that I’ve lost, and end up with more confidence in my ability to handle whatever comes my way. Oh, and I can learn my lesson and back up important data in future!

No prizes for guessing that I’m choosing the latter 😉

As I see it, shit happens every now and then. No matter who you are or what you do or how carefully you plan ahead, something will eventually go wrong. Most people get mad about those unfortunate situations they find themselves in, but getting mad doesn’t fix anything. Usually it just makes things worse. It’s infinitely better to breathe deep, accept the situation, and keep moving forward as best you can.

As I’ve heard said, it’s not so much what happens to you that matters, but how you respond.

Which response do you choose when things go wrong?