- Resilience is important now more than ever, especially as we try to manage our work lives during uncertain times.
- Building resilience can improve mental health, by reducing anxiety and depression that is related to setbacks.
- You can and should take active steps to increase your resilience: build connections, leverage your experience, and stay hopeful.
These days, the only certainty is uncertainty. We have no idea how this year is going to end, let alone what the next several years are going to bring. In the first six months of 2022, we have seen a major war erupt, inflation soar, markets sink, and supply-chain disruptions. Business leaders admit they have no idea how to plan for the next few years; it’s impossible to know what will be expected of employees on the individual level. What will be key is resilience, which is the critical skill set for today’s environment.
Understanding what resilience is. Put simply, resilience is not about being “happy.” Resilience is the to adapt and recover after a difficult experience. Whether it’s losing a job or ending a relationship, we are unable to avoid times of adversity. But improving our resilience is key to remaining emotionally healthy so that we can continue to function. In times of great uncertainty, the instability itself can become a challenge. For example, even if you don’t lose your job, the day-to-day concern that you might become unemployed can be equally stressful. The markets are another example, it is impossible for anyone to know how much their investments will be worth from week to week, and the constant fluctuations can become trying.
Why being resilient is important. We all face setbacks from time to time, and it is natural to feel the impact of being knocked down. But becoming resilient is vital to how we get back up in a healthy way, this allows us to take risks again. If you want to achieve professionally, you will have to continue to take chances, whether that’s going on a job interview, requesting a raise, pursuing a promotion, or changing employers. With resilience, you will be less prone to depression and self-doubt when inevitably some of that risk-taking does not pay off.
Connections are comforting. Get connected with your co-workers. Understandably, this is tough when you’re remote or hybrid working or just starting somewhere new. These days you may have to make a more concerted effort to build those relationships. If you can, meet in person or via one-on-one zoom calls until you have a rapport. Ideally, get to know people before you need them, one way to build resilience is to have a network in place that you can rely on during crises. Being connected will also make you more productive, which further helps build the confidence and stability that fuels resilience.
Experience can improve expectations. Leverage what you know now, which will help build some quick confidence. Uncertainty is as much of the problem as any specific bad outcome. But you can use your past experiences to decrease feelings of helplessness. In addition, use those relationships, as mentioned previously—you can rely on the experiences of others to help you have meaningful goals. Connect with those who may have been through turbulent or difficult times in the past for advice on how to manage emotions and goals now.
Make every day meaningful and stay hopeful. None of us know what will be happening by the end of the year. What you can do now is focus on what you do today, tomorrow, and next week—for the 40 hours (or more) you are at work. Turn your professional life into an opportunity to do something that matters to you. Make the necessary changes at work to help you feel that your contributions are meaningful. Or find something new, if that is what it takes to make you feel worthwhile. Finding satisfaction in the workplace will help you rebound more easily. Neuropsychologists have shown us that the thoughts you hold have an impact on your brain and body. When you think of work, make sure you can see something positive in it, something that will inspire you. This impacts your well-being, which makes it easier to be resilient. You can’t ensure what tomorrow will bring, but you can make sure that today you accomplished something that matters to you.