Bree Cleal is a thriving graphic designer, a business owner, a public speaker, a mother.
And a widow.
In 2009 her entire life was thrown into disarray when her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was a huge shock, and completely unexpected.
This massive life change led Bree into the darkest times she’s ever experienced. But somehow, throughout it all, Bree experienced a moment of clarity. All she could do was focus on controlling the controllables in her life.
This decision enabled her to, slowly, build a conscious resilience, to put one foot in front of the other, and keep going. After all, she had to. For her husband, for herself, and for their daughter.
In many respects, having her own business helped Bree deal with the overarching fear, anger, and loneliness. She learned to compartmentalise everything that was happening.
“I boxed it, put the lid on it, put it on a shelf, and went to work,” Bree says.
She made the conscious, difficult choice to get up in the morning, and control what she could control.
She engaged a business coach, who gave her a routine to work to, and she learned to proceduralise her business in a way that would work around her life.
It was a contingency, a way to put steps in place to manage whatever came in the future, despite not knowing what that might be. She was able to put the support systems in place, in her business, and in her personal life, to continue on getting up in the morning.
As business owners we have this strategic plan, this roadmap that we’re working to, that gives us some measure of certainty about the future. So it’s a massive shock when life takes a turn, and it doesn’t go as we planned. It’s an utterly grounding moment. Because we can’t apply those same business principles to life. It just doesn’t work.
But by continuing to make the conscious choice to control her controllables, to choose to simply press on and endure, Bree found she was able to lean on the conscious resilience she’d built.
It won’t always be easy—but it’s something that can help you weather any storm, keep going, and to live life on your terms.