Bad news and big breaks

We did this once before, and it worked out quite well. Also, 7 other things worth your time.

Quick note: Monday is Labor Day in the USA, and we’re taking take the day off. See you bright and early on Tuesday!


Let’s try something again that we’ve done before, and that turned out better than I expected.

About 18 months ago (!) I wrote about “big breaks,” of which I’ve probably had more than I deserve, or even noticed at the time. I suppose I’d define these as:

“Inflection points in life, often unexpected, that lead to a better and more fulfilling path than the one you were on before.”

In March 2020, I asked readers to share some of the big breaks they’ve had in life. The total readership of Understandably was much smaller then than it is today, but we had some very good examples.

One thing that struck me: the number of people whose big breaks came out of something that seemed like bad news to begin with.

Allow me to quote, if I may (these are all edited for space; you can read the full comments at each link):

  • “Best thing that ever happened to me was Y2K. … On January 1, 2000, half our business cancelled on us … [b]ut we did survive, I was able to purchase a struggling competitor, and then sold it all in 2002, to start Discover Yourself. My dream job … I needed the hard kick in the teeth to start doing what I really love to do!” (link)

  • “I had a career I loved ... My staff and I suddenly experienced terrible harassment … I fought for a fair, healthy work environment and lost! … What was such a painful loss became a tremendous opportunity. I now have a new position in a related field that is better in every way.” (link)

  • “My big break was being laid off from a large company which led to me going back to school, getting my PhD, and finding my true passion, teaching college kids.” (link)

  • “My big break came when my former business partner locked me out of our office—as in, literally changed the locks. … I walked away smarter and more confident, and 16 years later, still run my own business pretty successfully.” (link)

So I’m interested to hear from you again, in this weekly comment thread:

  • Tell us what you consider to have been your "big break(s)."

  • Tell us about the earlier "little breaks" that had to happen for those supposed "big breaks" to occur.

  • And tell us about the "breaks" you're still hoping for.

Secret hope:

  • Someone will write, "I hope one day my big break will be that I find my Perfect X (a job, a date, an opportunity) ..."

  • Someone will read that and reply: "Hmmm, you know what, I might just have the Perfect X for you..."

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