It’s easy to provide platitudes about dusting yourself off and trying again but when you’re facing major career challenges, sometimes they seem insurmountable. We all develop resilience organically throughout your career but sometimes you need to reflect and actively develop some resilience techniques.
Every setback is a learning opportunity
Resilience is all about outlook. We are all fallible human beings – of course we are. Unless you see yourself as some sort of superhuman (and if you do, please check yourself into a therapist asap!), you will make mistakes, some big, some small, some trivial, some with lifelong consequences. This is how life works. At work, experience is valued pretty much above any other asset and that’s because an experienced consultant has made mistakes and learnt from them. They’ve shaped their past errors into knowledge. To build resilience you need to own those mistakes, reflect, understand and move on.
Balance your life and your career
It’s easy to start thinking that one’s career should come first, especially when working in an international, competitive office. If you put all your focus into your career all the time, any small mistake, any error of judgement will haunt for way too long! If you have a bad day you need to go home and really focus on the kids, or call up an old friend. If you’re living away from work this can be tough but that’s why hobbies are important. If you’re a gym fanatic go and do a class you’ve never done before, if you love movies take yourself to the pictures. If you make model boats then spend the evening doing that! Hobbies are all about focusing on something you enjoy – nobody else’s opinions, input or raised eyebrows matter in the least.
Physical health is important
If you can honestly say that a tough day of work hasn’t led you to a ‘reward’ of greasy food, a night in the pub or a tub of chocolate ice cream, then you’re a better person than most of us! We all have terrible days or weeks at work and an unhealthy treat is not the end of the world. When you’re developing resilience to stress, however, these sneaky snacks or ‘medicinal’ whiskies are not going to work in the long term. I find the best thing to do after a bad day is walk home from the office, or at least walk part of the way. A brisk walk for just under an hour is a great way to relieve nervous energy and a lot healthier than heading for the pub. You don’t need to become a fitness guru but don’t slip into unhealthy ‘reward’ patterns that damage your coping mechanisms in the long term. Find ways to replace treats with exercise or healthier options and develop resilience in those down days.
When to call it a day
This may seem to fly in the face of every entrepreneurial go-getting advice but sometimes reasoned reflection suggests that perhaps you’re just not cut out for this career and that can be terrifying! Being able to distinguish between a hiccup (however major it seems) and endlessly pursuing a dead end route is tricky. We’ve all come home from a bad day and scoured the Internet for alternative careers (and if you haven’t, you’re very lucky). We’ve all made silly mistakes that make us question our suitability for any job, but that’s just being a normal, self-aware human being.
Resilience is not about building a thicker and thicker skin until you blindly follow a path without questioning. Resilience is about actively realising your ambitions and knowing how to handle the bumps in the road.