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March 19, 2021

Career Services

Building Resilience to Boost Career Success

The More We Train Our Brains to Practice Resilience, the Better We Get and the Easier It Becomes

Resilience spelled out on a green background

We have all been there: facing a disappointing, stressful, or just plain tough period in our lives. Whether you are amid a drawn-out job search, juggling competing personal and professional responsibilities, or just figuring out how to deal with the often anxiety-provoking news headlines of the day, things are challenging right now, and it can be a struggle to cope.  

When the going gets tough, how do you react? Do you get angry about the situation where you find yourself? Blame yourself? Wallow in the day-to-day struggles? Although these reactions are natural in the moment, ruminating on negative thoughts can prevent us from building strong coping skills and recovering more quickly from setbacks. Upon hearing the word "resilient” your mind might automatically go to someone who is strong and has had to overcome a lot. However, resilience is like a muscle—the more we train our brains to practice resilience, the better we get and the easier it becomes to cope with challenging situations. But what can we do to develop that resilient mindset in our daily lives? 

Try a few of these strategies: 

Assess and Reframe Negative Thoughts

Resilient people have negative thoughts, just like anyone, but they don’t let them derail their efforts. Instead of focusing on negativity, they practice positive thinking. You don’t have to be Pollyanna about things, but next time you have a pesky, reoccurring thought come through your brain, ask yourself “Is this helpful, or is this harmful?” If the thought is helpful and assists you in continuing to move forward—great! Take action and keep making progress! If it is harmful, try to reframe those thoughts to maintain perspective about the situation.  

Choose your Response 

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous strategy. We can't control other people, or many situations we find ourselves in, but we can control our own reactions to that situation. For instance, if you receive a rejection letter for a job you thought was perfect for you, you can get mad at the company for not “realizing your genius,” or you can think “maybe it just wasn’t the right fit for me—I am sure something better is ahead”. 

Prioritize Relationships 

Connecting with people you care about helps you remember that you aren’t alone when facing difficulties. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who cares about you, like a friend, family member, or mentor, who can give you the support you need at that time. If you don’t feel like you have connections who can support you, you may want to look into community organizations such as a civic group or faith-based community to engage in social support. Finding a safe space to offer some support can help you regain your sense of purpose. 

Set, and Make Progress on, Goals 

In Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about a proven framework for building a habit—doing the smallest possible piece of any given activity. That might be doing one push-up, writing one sentence, or spending 5 minutes outside in nature—whatever the smallest subset of your ideal goal can be. The idea behind this is that by setting an achievable goal—the atomic habit—you're likelier to do the action and achieve your larger goals as well. This can be applied outside of habits too. For instance, if your goal is to identify a more fulfilling job, one action you might take is activating your Handshake account. 

Reach out for Support 

In challenging situations, it can be hard to figure out where to go next or even how to get started. We are here to help! Contact Career & Professional Development to help develop a strategy that will propel you past any potential obstacles in no time.  

Developing your social and emotional learning skills is a lifelong process. As we deal with challenging situations, we can choose our reaction—do we choose to dwell on the negativity or try to find positive things in our lives? Practicing the above strategies when a negative thought arises helps us learn to deal with those thoughts in a more healthy—resilient—way.  

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