10 Ways To Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the process of bouncing back after adversity. Having resilience doesn’t mean you can prevent adversity, but that you can bounce back from difficult circumstances and experiences. Resilience is something that everyone can learn to improve.

Here are 10 ways you can build your resilience:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others – Accept yourself for who you are. This doesn’t meant that you don’t strive for personal development, but that you recognize your worth as you are. When you compare yourself to someone else you may be comparing the beginning of your journey with the end of someone else’s. This can be discouraging.
  2. Recognize your inner voices – When you have negative inner voices it is more difficult to build and maintain your self-confidence and self-esteem, the foundation of resilience. Respond to your negative voice with positive affirmations to reduce their negative impact.
  3. Monitor your self-talk – If you let your negative inner voice have power you may inflict negative judgements on yourself. Instead of taking a rejection in stride, for example, you may tell yourself that you don’t have good ideas or that you will never succeed. Replace your negative self-talk with positive thoughts instead.
  4. Make and maintain connections – People who have strong connections at work are more resilient. Identify your support network, and if you are lacking now is the time to actively work to increase it. Just having a support network is not enough, however. You need to maintain as well as build your network of connections. Make time for casual interactions, be there when people need your support, and be willing to keep your circle open to new people.
  5. Set and achieve goals – Setting and achieving goals increases your resilience because goals provide purpose, direction, commitment, and motivation. It enables you to stay true to your purpose no matter what is going on around you. When you set goals one method to use is to set goals that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Write your goals down and post them where you can see them. Break your goals into smaller steps (if a step will take longer than a week to accomplish break it down some more). Keep track of your progress, commit yourself to reaching your goals, and celebrate your successes.
  6. Embrace change – Change can be difficult to accept, and the process of reaching acceptance often mimics the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance). We want to sway and bend in the wind of change, not be broken by it. One way to become more resilient is to look for the positive opportunities a change may hold. Figure out what you can and cannot control. For the things you can control, make a plan to implement the change. For the things you can’t control, let it go and make peace with it. Recognizing the consequences of not changing can help you gain a realistic perspective and see the benefits of making the change.
  7. Use flexible thinking – Flexible thinking is the ability to shift your thoughts in order to respond effectively to any situation. You can develop mental flexibility and strength just like you might develop physical flexibility and strength, through practice. Some ways to practice mental flexibility are to be more spontaneous, adopt an attitude of a neutral observer, and to look at things from other points of view. Forcing ourselves to be more spontaneous helps break entrenched thinking and more open to flexible thinking. Viewing situations as a neutral observer before reacting can help you see things you might have otherwise missed. When we look at things from another point of view it helps us break out of ingrained perspectives and negative patterns.
  8. Use coping strategies – In order to be resilient, you need tools for dealing with being upset when it is happening in the moment. Allow yourself to have a bad day. It happens to all of us. Go for a walk, have a good cry, yell and scream, do some deep breathing, then recognize that the bad day won’t go on forever and get through the day. You can also figure out what must be done and what can be put off to a later date. If you are in a crisis mode it doesn’t help stressing about things that don’t need to be done. Reach out to your support network as needed. Look for the good, focus on something you can be grateful for, smile, and laugh.
  9. Stress management – Learn how to say no. Work on improving your time management. Avoid people who bring stress and drama into your life. Watch out for perfectionism, learn when “good enough” is good enough. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Learn to forgive.
  10. Relaxation – Get enough sleep. Engage in a hobby. Use your vacation time!

By following some or all of these steps you can start building your resilience today!


Why Focus Is Important To Me

Focus can apply to larger long-term goals as well as the immediate task at hand. I like to think of focus as the rudder on a ship. Without a rudder a ship will still move around, but only where the wind and current take it, not necessarily in the intended direction. Focus is the same way, you can still get things done without intentional focus, but those actions might not reflect your goals and aspirations.

You’ll note I said intentional focus above. It is quite possible to unintentionally focus on something and then that focus will determine your outcome or reality. So we must be intentional in our focus. If you can keep your long-term goals in focus this will help lay the groundwork for intentional focus in your immediate tasks. Without that long-term focus it is much more likely that you will succumb to unintentional focus (dealing with whatever is in front of you and seems urgent).

Long-term focus is the “keep your eyes on the prize” mentality. You know where you want to go and even if there are things you don’t like doing, if they are necessary to meet your goals you need to focus on them. Focusing on immediate and short-term tasks is part of finding your “flow” and single-tasking on that one task for a specified time period or until it is complete.

It can be too easy, especially when you are tired or stressed, to set yourself adrift and “put out fires” / just do whatever comes across your desk. By intentionally focusing on what is important we can better achieve our goals.


Why You Should Prioritize Your Tasks

I’ve previously shared 7 Ways To Prioritize Your Tasks And Get Stuff Done and I hope you’ve found that helpful. That dealt with the question of How but I never addressed the Why. And although I didn’t follow Simon Sinek’s advice and start with why, I do want to answer the Why, why is it important, why should you care about prioritizing your tasks.

The short answer is that prioritizing your tasks gives you control over your life. When we make choices and have control we are better able to accept the bad with the good.

If we don’t prioritize our tasks, whether directly or indirectly, we can find ourselves constantly “putting out fires” handling things that seem urgent (or that other people have deemed urgent). Everyone has days like this, but if that is your normal way of operating time will pass without getting a lot accomplished. You may be always busy, but busy does not equal productive.

When I say directly or indirectly prioritizing your tasks I am referring to whether you directly list out your tasks and assign priorities to each one, or if based on your goals (you have set goals right?) you mentally assign priorities to get things done. I’ve been doing this for a while and am very comfortable using an indirect method of prioritization. When you are just starting out you may find it easier or more reassuring to directly list your priorities out. The indirect method however can be detrimental to team or group projects. Those situations are better served with direct methods. When dealing with your own priorities you can be more flexible.

By knowing what your goals are and having prioritized tasks to achieve your goals you are gaining more control over your life and outcomes. Now when someone needs to add something to your list you know where it fits in with your existing priorities. Maybe the new thing needs to move to the top of the list, but maybe not. If you didn’t know your priorities the new thing might get done before something that should have been done first.


Get To Know Yourself Better

By having a better understanding of ourselves not only can we make great strides in our own personal development but we can also apply what we know about ourselves to our interactions with others, improving communication and increasing harmony.

Here are some ways you can get to know yourself better:

You might wish to do some research on your own and then reach out to a professional to work with you. If you’d like to work with me, I’d love to hear from you!


Social Learning Opportunities

One of the ways we learn is by observing and interacting with others. There are many types of social learning opportunities, let’s look at a few that I am fond of:

Twitter Chats: There are so many great chats to be found on Twitter, covering a vast range of topics. In general, chats are set up in a question and answer format, where a host asks a question, usually prefaced with Q1, Q2, etc. Then everyone participating can chime in with their answers, usually prefaced with A1, A2, etc. Often further discussions branch off based on people’s answers. If you regularly attend the same chat (often they are held weekly) you will start to see familiar faces and get to know your fellow chatters. If you can’t participate live you can always read the tweets at a later date, and some moderators put together a summary or recap, using Storify or other platforms. A few chats that I enjoy are the Power Of Connection chat #PoCchat, #NextChat, and #HBRogue. You can stumble upon chats organically if you see people you follow participating in them, or you can search out chats using a list, such as this Twitter Chat Schedule. You will probably want to use a tool like TweetDeck or HootSuite to monitor the hashtag as high volume chats can be a bit tricky to follow, especially the first time or so.

Facebook Groups: Facebook Groups are another way to learn about various topics and participate in discussions around them. Some groups are more free-form, with many people contributing conversation starters. Others have one or more moderators who post most of the content. I’ve also participated in groups that revolved around other events, such as Facebook Live broadcasts, webinars, or physical or virtual conferences. The Group then acted as a place for people to discuss that event. While many Twitter chats tend to be high volume for a bit and then quiet until the next chat, some Facebook Groups can be moderately active throughout the week.

Local Meetups/Conferences/Workshops/Virtual Events: Sometimes the best opportunities come when we gather (physically or virtually) around a particular topic for an extended time. Look for events that interest you in trade magazines/websites, online discussions, or through professional organizations. Getting together with people all interested in the same topic can help build connections and open the door to more opportunities. Although schedules and budgets usually make attending these events less frequent, they are worth the investment. Take the time to find at least one big event you’d like to go to and then make it a goal to attend in the next year or so.

College/University: Going back to school is the biggest commitment both in time and expense. However, if the program is set up well you will have many opportunities to engage in social learning, through group work, class discussions, and discussions held with classmates outside of class. These opportunities help reinforce the lessons learned in your courses.


7 Ways To Prioritize Your Tasks And Get Stuff Done

There is no right way to prioritize your tasks or how to get your stuff done, only ways that are right for you.

Here are a few ways to try that may work for you:

  1. 6 Steps To Better Time Management – I list steps I’ve taken to use my time better.
  2. How I Prioritize My Tasks – A few ways that help me to get through my task list, including my favorite, the Eisenhower Matrix!
  3. The Pomodoro Technique – Work in 25 minute distraction-free chunks to get tasks done.
  4. Getting Things Done Methodology – 5 steps to GTD
  5. Write down your top 3-5 priorities. Look at the next three months in your calendar. Note how much time you have allocated towards those priorities. Are you scheduling time to work on your priorities? If not, that’s a good place to start.
  6. Schedule time for reflection – Did you just finish a goal, spend some time reflecting on what went right and what could have been done better. Celebrate your win!
  7. Schedule time for planning – Having planning time in your calendar allows you to think about future goals so you don’t get lost in the day to day bustle. Don’t find yourself busily working on whatever comes up, make sure you have a destination in mind.

 


I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

When I was growing up, one of the shows that I liked (and still like) is The A-Team. And while the whole team was great, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith was my favorite. Looking back at it now through my grown up lens there is one feature of his character that stands out.

Hannibal had a catch phrase “I love it when a plan comes together.” But the funny thing is, he never had a set plan that went through exactly as he may have envisioned it. He had an end goal, and was flexible in the means taken to reach that goal. This brings to mind this quote from an unknown author:

Be stubborn about your goals,
And flexible about your methods

Very often we might think we know what path we will ultimately take to reach our goals, however obstacles may come that force us to take different paths. If we are flexible about our methods, or which path we take, we are more likely to achieve our goals. This is true whether you are a mercenary on the run from the military police or an office worker trying to get the latest TPS report done.

About five years ago I had set some five-year goals. As this period is coming to a close I can see that many of the goals I set I have achieved or am close to achieving, however I definitely have not achieved some of them through the methods I originally thought. There are some goals that have become outdated and I no longer desire to achieve, and there are some that the underlying meaning behind the goal still exists even if the stated goal does not. Maintaining flexibility is key to achieving your goals.

More short term, I set weekly goals. I do not plan out exactly, hour-by-hour, how I will accomplish these goals on a daily basis. I prefer a more organic approach, scheduling time to work on projects as they fit my priority and inspiration. And though my day to day may not seem as firm, that flexibility winds up allowing me to reach my goals.

Regardless of how you may achieve your goals, the important step is to set goals and be stubborn in your efforts to reach them. Then when you achieve your goal you can chuckle, grin (cigar optional), and say “I love it when a plan comes together.”


How I Use Social Media To Engage

I am most active on Facebook (both personal and with a business page), Twitter, and LinkedIn. I use each platform differently, so let’s take a look at each:

Facebook: Facebook is my number 1 go to social media platform. It’s a one stop shop, with personal connections, professional connections, and groups.

My personal profile is me, I talk about and share what’s on my mind, including religion and politics (yikes!). You can probably get a good sense of my love for my family and friends, puns, bad jokes, and music. I also share things that are of a professional interest. My sharing/posting is all in realtime, so if I’m feeling particularly sharey you might get inundated with a ton of posts all at once (sorry, not sorry). I also have been using Facebook Live every Wednesday to talk about the topics in my blog post for the week.

Groups have really taken off recently as a great way to connect with a larger community. It’s redesigning the old school Bulletin Board Systems for the 21st century. I’m active in several Groups, some are long term and others exist around a specific moment and then slow down or stop. From personal or professional development to keeping up on a game that you play, you can probably find a Group or two to meet your needs. (Shameless plug: If you’re looking for a Group and want to discuss some great books, join the Personal Development Book Club)

A Page can be for your business or special interest topic. On my Page I share one article a day (content curation) that I find interesting (scheduled with Buffer, see tools below). I also share my blog posts and Facebook Live videos here.

Twitter: I mainly use Twitter for content curation, I have eight posts a day scheduled (using Buffer, see tools below). I also use Social Jukebox (see tools below) to post inspirational quotes, a blog post, an invitation to subscribe to my blog, and an invitation to join my book club. My blog posts also get posted to my Twitter. My live interaction with Twitter is mainly through Tweet Chats. These are live, usually hour long, discussions focused around a topic with a set number of questions that those participating answer and discuss. Since it is live and because of the character limits of Twitter the discussion is quicker paced and more concise than might be found elsewhere. I usually find the chats to be very interesting and informative.

LinkedIn: I have one post per day scheduled through Buffer (see tools below) and I re-publish my blog posts as LinkedIn articles. Admittedly this is my least used platform of the three listed here. I keep my profile up to date and check in regularly, but don’t use it as much.

Tools: I use several tools to automate or assist with my social media engagement:

Buffer – I use Buffer to auto-post articles across all three of my social media platforms. I have different schedules for each and usually have different things posting to different places at different times so there isn’t too much duplication. The free version allows you to schedule up to 10 posts on each platform at a time.

Social Jukebox – I use Social Jukebox to post a motivational quote picture once an evening, a random blog post on Saturday, and every evening an invitation to sign up for my blog posts by email and to join my book club. I also send an automated thank you to my top interactors for the week every Friday.

Pablo by Buffer – I use Pablo to make all of the branded images I use for my blog posts. The image at the top of this post was created using Pablo.

Crowdfire – I use Crowdfire to manage my Twitter followers. This app makes it really easy to see who has followed or unfollowed you and then either Follow or Unfollow back. You are limited to 25 follows and 25 unfollows every 24 hours with the free version. I generally will unfollow anyone who unfollows me, but am more selective on who I follow.

TweetDeck – I use TweetDeck when participating in Tweet Chats. It helps to follow the conversation easier and to see my mentions to respond. If I spent more time on Twitter it would also be useful to set up different columns to monitor streams.

HootSuite – I manage the Facebook postings for my church congregation’s page. I use HootSuite to schedule all of the posts. I schedule posts out monthly.


Reflections On Unexpected Downtime

Last week we were in the path of Winter Storm Stella and I wound up with an unexpected snow day. I was struck by the amount of articles I saw about how to stay productive when you are stuck at home. I found that idea to be opposite to what I believe and wanted to write a counterpoint article.

I’m all for taking advantage of found time such as when you are sitting in a waiting room. Catch up on some reading, write in your journal, etc. But when you have an entire day of unplanned downtime, as was the recent case with a snow day, I believe it is time to rethink what we mean by staying productive.

If by staying productive we mean to keep doing the same things as if we were going about our normal day we are doing ourselves a disservice. First off, you probably won’t get as much done. There are many factors that affect how much we get done, but unless you were expecting to work from home you might not have everything you need to get your task list accomplished. Most of all, however, is that we are missing a golden opportunity to unplug and recharge.

In the case of a snow day, no one is expecting any “work” from you. So why squander your time producing something that can be done at an expected time? Why not rethink productivity and tackle a wish-list project? Or spend the day playing games or binge-watching that show you’ve been meaning to check out?

We spend so much of our time trying to “get things done” that when we have the opportunity to step away and do something different we might not know what to do with ourselves. We might feel guilty about not doing “work” or being “productive.” But by taking the time to do something different we give ourselves a chance to come back to our work with a refreshed perspective and renewed energy.


Why I Don’t Multitask

The book we are discussing this month in the Personal Development Book Club is The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done by Dave Crenshaw. The idea that multitasking could be inefficient was a new idea for me. My brain seems wired to flit from idea to idea and activity to activity and multitasking is one of those buzzwords you hear in the office or in job postings.

However, since our brains are only able of focusing on one task at a time, multitasking is a lie. We are in fact rapidly switching between tasks, and that switching takes a toll on our efficiency and effectiveness. When was the last time you were doing something, let’s say writing an email, when the phone rang. Did you keep writing your email as you talked on the phone? How did that work out for you? Whether you realized it or not, the person on the other end of the conversation could tell you weren’t giving them your full attention. And perhaps you had to go back and change part of your email as your typos increased or maybe you even started typing what you were saying instead of what you wanted to type.

I realized that I felt more frazzled and had more errors when I attempted to multitask. I also noticed that my time for completion (with no errors) was less if I focused on one thing at a time. Single-tasking, rather than multitasking, is the productivity enhancing tool we’ve been looking for! By focusing on one task at a time, I can get more done and feel better at the end of the day.

I can hear the skeptics now, “Surely you have more to work on than one thing at a time? You have to multitask in this crazy world!” While it may seem like you have to multitask, you don’t. Of course there will always be multiple tasks that need to be completed, and maybe they have very similar deadlines. This is where prioritizing and focusing come into play. In another post I talked about priortizing and how you can categorize tasks by order of urgency and importance as well as ways to enhance your focus. By focusing on the most urgent and important tasks one at a time you can get more done than if you were multitasking.

Stop in at the Personal Development Book Club Facebook Group and let us know your experiences with multitasking!