Five ways to boost your resilience

Find out why grit is an essential trait if you want to succeed in life, and five ways you can boost your own resilience. 

It’s fair to say we’re living and working in an uncertain and pretty turbulent climate right now. So the ability to be able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions at work could be key to your survival and success.

In her new book Grit, Angela Duckworth argues that resilience and passion are the secret weapons of successful people. She cites many great case studies to demonstrate that it’s what goes through your head when you fall down, rather than talent or luck that makes all the difference.

But, is resilience really a skill you can learn or is it gifted to those who have been nurtured in a certain way?

Can you learn resilience?

Like many work related skills, resilience comes more naturally to some than others – but it’s something that can be developed if you put your mind to it.

I’m not a psychologist, but over my career I’ve faced some pretty challenging times; from my first front-line sales job where knock backs were ten a penny, to dealing with the emotions and uncertainty brought by mergers and acquisitions in various different companies I’ve worked.

And setting up my own consultancy from scratch has inevitably brought its ups and downs.

On a personal level, I’ve trained for and completed three marathons and endured cycling challenges that now seem unthinkable – so I’d say I’ve tested and honed my resilience skills over the years.

Five ways to boost your resilience

So, here are my top five tips for becoming more resilient in business (and in your personal life), particularly when you find things just aren’t going to plan:

1) When things don’t go to plan – reflect

Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go to plan. Instead spend some time reflecting on the situation, so you can learn from it. How would you handle it differently next time? Are there any additional skills you need to develop or knowledge gaps that need filling? If so, put a plan in place to acquire or develop those skills. There’ll always be a next time with new opportunities.

2) Move on quickly

Once you’ve reflected, try to move on quickly. There’s no need to dwell on what went wrong for too long or you’ll be in danger of spiralling into a negative stupor that can be hard to get out of. Instead dust yourself off and find a way to get back on track – which might mean putting a plan B into action.

Don’t waste energy thinking too hard on what could have been or “if only” you’d done something differently – you didn’t so stop looking back and positively look forward.

3) Park it and move on

I always tell myself that “things happen for a reason – if it’s meant to be then it will.” Some may consider this to be an overly used motivational quote that over simplifies real life, but personally I find it a helpful coping mechanism that allows me to justify why some things go my way and why others don’t!

By telling yourself this, you are giving yourself permission to move on without over analysing the situation too much, allowing you to park the issue and move onto the next thing.

4) Let go of what you can’t control

Don’t try to control the uncontrollable – recognise that you can’t be accountable for everything; you can really only affect those things you have control over.

So don’t give yourself a hard time because something you’ve worked on didn’t go well if you genuinely couldn’t have done anything differently.

And in a similar vein, focus your energy on addressing the bigger issues that you CAN affect, and forget wasting your time sweating the small stuff that is beyond your control.

5) Find a way to vent

Find an outlet to release some negative energy. We all have bad days, but bottling up frustrations is never a good thing. Whether it’s a calming yoga or Pilates class, a fast and furious body combat class, baking some cakes or spending quality time with your kids, use these moments to regain some perspective and re-balance

By doing so you’ll be able to come back fighting. And when things do get really hard, it’s perfectly normal to have a little cry. In fact studies suggest that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and “feel-good” hormones, so don’t feel embarrassed to shed a tear or two!

You CAN control the outcome

I was once told a great equation that puts some of this into context:

Situation + Reaction = Outcome

This means that, essentially, your reaction to a difficult situation will determine the outcome. So the next time things aren’t quite going the way you hoped, try some of these coping mechanisms and ways of thinking, and see if you can achieve a different outcome.

Read more about emotional resilience

If you’d like to learn more about emotional intelligence and resilience, we recommend reading these articles:

The Progress Lab is a business and marketing consultancy aiming to help people and businesses unleash their true potential. If you need some help in developing your personal or business strategies email them to find out how they can assist.