How To Overcome Challenges In Uncertain Times

How To Overcome Challenges In Uncertain Times

As the old adage goes, the only constant in life is change. That’s why cultivating resilience is so important. According to Merriam-Webster, resilience is “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

It’s about bouncing back from things both big and small, whether it’s dealing with difficult people, navigating budget cuts, or facing setbacks on a big project. It’s honing in on your ability to recover from difficulty and better withstand stress.

Building resilience increases your mental health, your ability to hit long-term goals, learn from mistakes, and face difficulty (rather than be paralyzed by it). When it comes to the workplace, research shows that resilience is linked with greater job satisfaction, work happiness, organizational commitment and employee engagement. It’s also good for your health. According to Harvard Health, resilience is associated with longevity, lower rates of depression, and greater life satisfaction.

Resilience is not something some people possess and others do not, but rather is a dimension of emotional intelligence that can be strengthened. Here are three habits you can practice to help build your resiliency muscles.

Reframe a ‘failure.’ One universal truth is that life is hard at times. For all of us, things don’t always go as planned, we experience rejection, and there are times when we take a big hit.

Trying thinking about a time when you ‘failed.’ It could be getting passed over for a job or promotion or a mess up with a big client.

Looking back now, try listing out anything worthwhile that came from it. This is not to downplay a negative event in your life, but to learn to shift your mindset to recognize where growth opportunities may have been created from the painful experience. Here are some starter questions:

  • How can you use the lessons learned to help others?
  • Who did you meet who has been meaningful to you whose path you might not have crossed if you hadn’t experienced the hardship?
  • In what ways might you have grown from it personally or professionally?

Sometimes endings or failures set us up for new beginnings or better position us for a future win. Focusing on the lessons learned rather than on beating yourself up is one stepping stone for becoming more resilient. It takes courage to face ourselves and our mistakes, but there is power in unpacking our failures in a way that brings us growth and learning. The next time you fall down, try to dig deep to uncover the key insights that can help you recover and blaze a new path.

Pinpoint your values. Think fast: what are your most important values, or the ways of living that you believe are most important? Many of us aren’t fully clear on our own values. When we’re afraid or hurt or uncertain, falling back on our values is an essential touchstone for helping us through a struggle and reconnecting with our purpose. Connecting with your values can help you be more resilient, and even lower stress hormones.

Knowing and acting upon your values is about living your “why,” and it’s that deeper meaning that you can turn to inwards in order to motivate you to overcome challenges rather than give up. Try writing down your three to five most important personal values. For inspiration, you can find an extensive values list from Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead list, some of which include:

  • Authenticity
  • Curiosity
  • Excellence
  • Freedom
  • Kindness
  • Legacy
  • Recognition
  • Security

Once you’ve identified your top three to five values, write them down and hang them somewhere you can see them daily to remind you of what matters most—such as your desk, mirror or computer.

When faced with challenges, try to align your thoughts and behaviors with your values. Your list of values can serve as a reminder of how you want to live your life, rather than on what you are trying to achieve right now. This can help you keep your big picture in mind when faced with temporary setbacks.

Prioritize cultivating connections. No one person is an island. Humans are wired to connect. There is a reason support groups form to help us reach our goals or overcome challenges. Some might argue that the very quality of our lives and work success are determined by the quality of our relationships. A key factor in resilience is learning who you can turn to as well as lean on when you need it, and in cultivating those connections. It’s about surrounding yourself with positive people who have your back and who can come to your aid or simply listen when you need it. Life’s challenges become easier to manage when we know we’re not alone.

“Relationships may be our most undervalued resources,” say authors Rob Cross, Karen Dillon, and Danna Greenberg in the Harvard Business Review. In fact, they believe that cultivating connection is at the heart of resilience.

These authors developed eight common relational sources of resilience, such as those focused on empathy, or connections that provide support so we can release negative emotions; politics, or connections that help us make sense of people or politics in a situation; and purpose, or connections that help remind us of the meaning in our work. Their research finds that not all of these sources are equally important for everyone. The takeaway is that really investing in the types of connections we need most is a backbone of being resilient in challenging times.

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