This final blog on the subject of building a more resilient life deals with Motivation and Me.
It examines the motivating factors that will help pull you through a period of difficulty and how you can prepare yourself physically and mentally to cope with challenges.
Our purpose is what shapes our life. Some of us seek power and influence, others want to live a creative life or to prioritise their family. If your purpose has real meaning to you this helps build resilience because it diminishes the impact of setbacks; they become minor ‘bumps in the road’ on the long-term journey.
So, what is your purpose in life? That’s a tough question. We are so driven by keeping our ‘heads above water’ dealing with short-term goals and objectives, that we are unfamiliar with thinking about our big-picture motivations. You may therefore need some help from a family member, close friend or a coach to really think through and be honest about what you want out of life and whether your current path is taking you in the right direction.
If you are able to articulate your purpose this can be a really useful benchmark when things get tough. It can highlight that things are getting too much, that the short-term is suffocating the long-term and things need to change; equally it can help you see what’s really important and that you need to dig-in to stay on course.
In the long-term, your capacity to cope will be enhanced if you develop new skills and a fresh way of looking at problems. Therefore, one of the best ways to build resilience is to be a lifelong learner – invest in yourself to grow your capacity – new experiences will help you see things differently and set new goals. With so many learning resources available online or via podcasts, it makes sense to take advantage of them.
Optimum performance also requires you to take care of yourself physically – exercise, diet and hydration all help your body and brain function and if you create a strong level of underlying fitness then you can draw on this in a challenging situation. If you struggle with the self-discipline to do these things, is now the time to build on all that walking you have been doing during lockdown?
Another way to take care of yourself is to pause; take a break from work and build time for reflection. Taking a break can involve a regular vacation or it can involve mindful activities like exercise or reading. Reflection is important because it allows you to take stock of what is happening and try to get some distance between you and the stressful situation you are experiencing. To do this you may want to keep a daily journal - this ‘objectifies’ your anxieties, making it easier to put them aside, giving you the chance to rest and re-group.
You can also use periods of reflection to work out your stress triggers – when are you most vulnerable to pressure? – what emotions take over? – have you worked through similar difficulties in the past? - what resources in yourself did you draw on then? Using a rigorous reflection process to build self-awareness and reveal the ways you cope best can be one of the biggest steps forward towards resilience.
It is important that reflection does not become a time when you just dwell on the difficulties you are experiencing but is an opportunity to really think through what you can do about it. A technique to help purposeful reflection is visualisation. If you were to watch a video of yourself at work, would you like the person you see? - would you be proud of how they handle situations? If the answer is ‘no’, then try to visualise what different behaviours you would like to see and start to build a plan to transition to the new you.
In setting out these 9 steps to building a more resilient life I aimed to introduce some ideas and techniques for you to consider. Some may work for you, others may be less relevant, but keep in mind that you are not alone in your desire to cope better with stressful situations; many of us struggle and want to improve. Along the way you may need to ask hard questions of yourself, so If you would like to discuss any of these ideas and how I could help you work on your personal resilience programme, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.