How to be resilient

Simple strategies for turning adversity into an asset

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Have you ever had something go wrong in your life that completely took the wind out of your sails?  Have you seen other people seemingly unflappable when faced with similar setbacks?  The difference is resilience.

If you find yourself procrastinating a lot, feeling easily frustrated or frequently overwhelmed then committing to developing resilience will be of great benefit. In the world today the pace of change has never been faster and with that challenges are going to come your way on a daily basis.  Resilience will give you the ability to turn these challenges into opportunities at ease.

In my own life I have experienced more than my fair share of adversity, the most challenging of which was ending up a quadriplegic and dependent on a wheelchair for life after breaking my neck and drowning in a backyard pool when I was 12 years old.  At first I was devastated and felt like my life was over.  Fast forward 24 years to today and things couldn’t be brighter and more positive. Through that journey I developed resilience and now teach others how to.

Resilience is something you need to have before you need to use – just like needing to have dug a well before you get thirsty. While there is often a perception that resilience is a trait that you natural have, the good news is resilience is a skill that can be learned and, just like building muscle in the gym, the more you practise it, the more resilient you will become.

To get you started, here are five simple things you can do to begin developing your resilience:

1. Choose your words wisely

One of the easiest ways to get things back on track when something goes wrong is to change the language you use in conversations with others and in your own thoughts. Emphasise the positive and don’t “awfulise” situations.  For example, your favourite team losing is not devastating, yet so many people use words like that in those situations.

Take a moment to consider what you are going to say and aim to say it with a more positive spin. This can be as simple as how you respond when someone asks, “How are you?” Just choosing more uplifting and empowering words in this context can change the way you and those around you feel.

2. Be responsible

Taking responsibility does not always mean putting your hand up and saying “yes, I stuffed up” or “yes, it was my fault” regardless of the situation. Quite often though, things going wrong can be the direct result of something you have done or a decision you have made. When this happens accept it and keep moving.  Avoid getting caught up in “Blame-atitis”. In other situations what has happened is completely out of your control.  Here it is best to take responsibility for finding a solution rather than dwelling on the problem.

3. Kill procrastination

You do not have an infinite supply of time. It’s important to make every minute count. Ask yourself, “Is what I am doing right now what I need to be doing to get closer to my vision and to solve the problem at hand?” It is much easier to do everything but address the problem.

Another question to ask yourself if you feel procrastination setting in is, “What am I really putting off?” Each and every time you procrastinate you are pushing your dreams and goals further and further away.

4. Enjoy yourself

The reality is when getting swept up in the day to day, it is easy to lose sight of what you really enjoy. When you enjoy what you do you are enthusiastic, motivated and look forward to it each and every day. The best thing about being in a place of inspired enjoyment is that when things do go wrong, and there is no place immune from it, you are in a position to turn what others fear into a positive experience.

Have a bank of things you enjoy doing that you can do anywhere, anytime. When you feel like things are getting overwhelming, take a 30 minute break to do one of those things to re-energise yourself.

5. Share your thoughts

Journal you thoughts or reach out to a mentor or supportive friend.  Having support around you and a vehicle for letting your thoughts out is vital. Capture what is overwhelming you, express gratitude for it, see what you can learn from it, then put a lid on it and move on.

Stacey Copas is a leading keynote speaker and facilitator on resilience and turning adversity into an asset, delivering keynote speeches, training, consulting and coaching. She has just published her debut book How to be Resilient: The Blueprint For Getting Results When Things Don’t Go To Plan’.


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