How to Leap Over Roadblocks With Mindful Resilience

Research shows how mindfulness helps you reach your goals.

Posted Jan 02, 2020

Do you have goals you'd like to accomplish this New Year? Each year, many people get enthused and motivated to set new goals. There are many studies showing that only a small percentage of those setting New Year's resolutions actually accomplish them, ranging from about 8 to 19 percent. Why even try? In fact, some people recommend that it's better not to set goals. At least then you don't have to face the prospect of failing.

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Jump right over those obstacles.
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There are lots of reasons given for why people miss their goals, such as lack of will power or having vague goals. One key reason that I don't often find in the conversation is this: How can mindfulness act as a resilience factor for reaching any goal?

Research from the fields of psychology and business administration has uncovered five key ways that mindfulness practices can play positive roles in any work-related environment—and assist in getting you past emotional and other types of roadblocks.

1. Mindfulness helps create order. A mindfulness practice can provide us with both the overview and neutral perspective necessary to view the messiness of life and work with acceptance and humor. Ironically, when we release the need to micromanage and constantly control, an amazing thing often happens—order tends to emerge from seeming chaos. This gives us the opportunity to make our work part of the very core of our spiritual lives.

2. Mindfulness overcomes fixed mindsets and sharpens creativity. One of the hallmarks of mindlessness—and the inability to problem-solve obstacles—is being stuck in a fixed mindset, which means you are unable to be adaptable and creative. Fixed mindsets are pre-determined cognitive beliefs. One example of an unwillingness to see things differently is typified by the worn phrase, “We’ve always done things this way.” Fixed mindsets can cause conflict, fatigue, and burnout. Another form of fixed mindset is a belief in limits, which is a creativity killer that produces conformity and stifles innovation, flexibility, and productivity. A belief in limits can make it hard to find novel ways to approach almost anything. Overcoming any obstacle requires response flexibility and creativity, which mindfulness encourages. 

3. Mindfulness widens external attention. The term used for mindfulness as applied to dynamic task environments (where decisions occur rapidly and are interconnected) is a "wide external breadth of attention." When faced with a roadblock, a wide external attention form of mindfulness helps managers improvise in the face of unexpected challenges and make interdependent decisions in real-time, which is to say, “fight fires” and respond to crises. Successful improvisation in both reaching goals and in business depends on being attentive and alert to what is happening in the here and now.

4. Mindfulness reduces negativity and stress. An article in the Journal of Academic and Business Ethics concluded that mindfulness, if used by employees and managers, “can interrupt their self-defeating and irrational thoughts and {they can} become more focused on their job responsibilities. They will become better able to cope and manage the bombardment of information, accept change in a more realistic and healthy manner, and realize greater fulfillment in both their professional and personal lives.” This is important because it helps anyone continue to stay positive and optimistic, rather than focusing on the obstacles or failures that are part of the learning process. 

5. Mindfulness addresses communication problems. In his book Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up, internationally recognized leadership consultant John Baldoni writes, “Organizations must be filled with people who can think for themselves as well as act with initiative and make good things happen." Listening openly and with respect is vital for reducing miscommunication and reaching your goals. 

As you can see, these five elements are essential ingredients for resilience. An Online CE Workshop Mindfulness for Resilience examines the four resilience factors and skills that build resilience, foundations of psychological hope developed by C.R. Snyder, and research that investigates why mindfulness reduces one's focus on failures, and instead fosters an attitude of acceptance and optimism toward the goal. 

So, should you risk setting resolutions this New Year? By all means. Just be sure to bring a healthy dose of mindfulness along for the ride.