resilience

Change is good

Yes, I’ve changed the appearance of this blog.  Once again.  What can I say?   I like change.   At least, change that I’ve initiated. 

Sound familiar?  Yes, over the past few years many of us have been through change that was not in our plan.   Our paradigm was shifted for us.  Our cheese was moved.  A natural response can be to hunker down and resist any further change.  However, this does not carry us forward. 

Rather, we can use the energy released by the initial change and channel it into further changes – changes we steer into taking us down the path we wish to go.  The vaccuum created by the loss of one thing is an opportunity for something else to rush in and fill it.  We can influence that process.  We do not have to be victims, sitting idly by. Instead we can take a moment, think about what we are really striving for and then take specific, productive action to fill the gaps. 

Change can give us a fresh perspective and help us to actually think differently.  The next time you want to think differently, change something – your environment, your schedule, your actions.   That’s what I did.  And I hope you like it!

Resolution check-in

So, how are you doing with your 2011 career resolutions?  Me?  Um, well…

Okay, I’m probably being a little hard on myself because I haven’t written much over the past couple weeks.  On the other hand, I’ve made progress on scheduling my time more efficiently.  Which is good, because I’ve been busy.  So keeping balance has been hard.  But I’ve been doing pretty well on connecting with people.  That brings us to two thumbs up and two thumbs down by my count. 

Now that I put it down in black and white, I feel a little better because I realize this is probably very reasonable.  We do not make steady, even progress every day, every week.  Growth and progress are made of fits and starts.  Taking a breath, and then moving forward again is the key.  Persistence = patience plus action.    And persistence is the key to success.   We’re a little over a month into the year.  If your efforts have been uneven, or perhaps trailed off altogether, now is the time to stop, take a breath, and then start again.

Resilience

Resilience is a factor I had not built into my career wellness checkup, but after attending a seminar yesterday, I’m convinced I need to add it. Dr. Marnie Shanbhag, a licensed psychologist in the Orlando area, spoke about resilience – the characteristics and the effects of having it (or not). If there is any skill we cannot do without in this day and age, it’s resilience. Our work changes in innumerable ways both big and small on what seems like a daily basis. We live in a sea of uncertainty. This does not mean we must cling to our lifeboat, desperate for the winds to die down. We can do more than survive – we can thrive. But we can’t do it without resilience.

The good news is, it can be developed like a muscle. To build resilience, Dr. Marnie says we can do a number of things. A few are:

1. Accept change as part of living
2. Avoid seeing crisis as insurmountable
3. Compartmentalize
4. Do something small to keep moving toward your goal
5. Begin to understand your thinking (observe when strong emotions are triggered, look for themes in why you are upset, identify the underlying belief or fear)
6. Challenge your thinking

I learned that lack of resilience is marked by an outsized emotional reaction to a situation, generally followed by ineffective action (or no action). Even in those moments we can build our resilience muscle by using calming techniques such as deep breathing or mental distraction techniques such as mathematics or naming games, and then challenging our thinking. Good exercises for challenging our thinking: “a more accurate way of seeing this is…” and “that’s not true because…”

As our careers change ever more rapidly and we must play a more active role in steering them, resilience will become a crucial skill. Practice building yours today.