Reaching your career goals or any degree of professional accomplishment often requires time, dedication, and a bit of personal development. Resilience is what drives people to have challenging and rewarding experiences throughout their working life. 2020 and the COVID-19 situation have pushed many to assess their professional resilience.
This year many employees have identified that months or years of hard work and effort could vanish in a moment. Layoffs, uncertainty within a company, and businesses closing have left many people concerned that they’ll have to start over elsewhere.
The idea of starting over is daunting, but you’ll never have to start over. You have experience and a skillset now that you did not have when you entered the workforce. Becoming professionally resilient is not about thinking positive or using wishful thinking to jump from job to job. Push forward and use these ways to help you become more professionally resilient.
1. Learn to Thrive in Demanding Situations
The American Psychology Association acknowledges that resilience is the ability to process and adapt well when faced with a challenge. Those challenges include adversity, stress, relationship problems, health troubles, threats, tragedy, and more. However, being resilient does not mean that you’re seeking to avoid pain or stress. The idea is that you are training yourself and building a skill set that will allow you to thrive in challenging, demanding, or painful situations.
How can you do this? There are three actionable steps you can take to begin laying a foundation for resilience. All of these will help you professionally and personally.
1. Become a Professional Problem Solver
Problems will always arise, but if you know how to assess, diagnose, and administer treatment, you can be the go-to person for solutions. You can learn to become a problem solver and take on critical traits of those who work toward solutions.
Consider these elements when building your problem-solving skills to become more resilient:
- Remain objective.
- Identify obstacles as well as opportunities.
- Use research to spur action.
- Don’t be afraid to be wrong or to ask for help.
The benefits of being a professional problem solver go beyond your career. These skills will help you evaluate challenges objectively, assess possible solutions, and decide on an action that would deliver desirable results.
Author Mark Manson provided some insight into problem-solving, “Happiness comes from solving problems. … The solution for today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems.”
2. Establish a Work-Life Balance
Start problem-solving and thriving with personal challenges.
How is your work-life balance? Focus on the task at hand and determine when your work or personal life will prioritize.
- Set daily cut-off times to establish a work-life balance. Enable yourself to prioritize essential tasks in your day.
- Practice mindfulness by assessing stress. Do you keep circling back to a time that you forgot something or missed an opportunity? Instead of stressing, take a moment and breath. Review the situation objectively, and determine what you can do to correct or move past the instance.
- Increase awareness by removing distractions and promoting a calm environment. Can you reduce the chance of making a future mistake by automating, scheduling, or planning upcoming events?
3. Learn When to Take Action
From analysis paralysis to “waiting for the right time,” many people stall when taking action. Everything comes down to decision making but making a decision and taking action are not the same thing. Resilience is about facing adversity and challenges, which means doing more than making a decision.
To build your action-taking muscle to become more resilient, practice these steps when facing a challenge:
- Stop waiting for the perfect time.
- Spend five minutes doing something productive relating to the current situation.
- Put an end to over-thinking and, instead, analyze useful information. There’s a lot more information that can help you take action than thinking, “what if”.
- Use your momentum to keep going. One action often leads to another.
- Look at what you can do right now.
- Reduce distractions or external opinions. Sometimes another opinion is not helpful.
Ultimately, you’ll use this to prove that you choose action over complaining, talking, or griping through experience. On a professional level, this can dramatically impact every work relationship you develop. During interviews, discuss how you approach problems and consistently work to improve your mindfulness and awareness. Build a passion for problem-solving, then know that you could handle any problem you face.
2. Develop an Expertise
About 70% of essential workers don’t have a college degree. What they do have is expertise. Grocery stores, health care, and trade workers saw a consistent demand for new talent throughout 2020. Those who aren’t ‘essential workers’ may have felt the uncertainty for their future as they were sent home, laid off, or out of work for weeks.
During the pandemic, companies had greater access to people with more advanced skillsets. Ideally, you want expertise or a specialty that doesn’t disqualify you from other jobs but makes you well-qualified for the position you want.
Throughout 2020, companies shifted their focus to hiring for skills, and now they have greater access to skilled workers. In January, LinkedIn provided it’s annual “Top Skills Companies Need” list. It included skills such as creativity and emotional intelligence alongside cloud computing and affiliate marketing.
Indeed made their list in October of 2020 with these skills:
- People management.
- Industrial design.
- Sales leadership.
- Time management.
- And more.
Devote yourself to special skills where you thrive, and others may struggle. You don’t need expertise in a handy skill or a trade. To become more resilient, most people need a particular skill that goes beyond industry borders.
3. Build Your Personal Resilience with the Solomon Paradox
What advice would you give to a friend or a loved one if they were in your position? The Paradoxical Wisdom of Solomon is the idea that people can often provide excellent advice but do not use that advice themselves. Solomon was well-known for issuing unmatched wisdom but falling into blunder after blunder himself.
i. Step Outside Yourself
Look at yourself as a third-party or someone that needs advice. You know what motivates, interests, and challenges you. You have all the information necessary to make wise decisions. The trouble is that we place too much weight on making the “right” decision rather than the best decision.
Consider some of the most common advice regarding careers and working. You’ve likely come across this advice or even gave it as advice to someone you know, but many people struggle to implement these perspectives and steps themselves:
- “You’re not your job” — Don’t build an identity around your status at work.
- “Build on your personal strengths” — Absolutely play to your strengths, get to know yourself, and understand your natural talents.
- “Adapt and change” — Everyone has the opportunity to take their skills and experience into another field or company.
It doesn’t have to be a chore. You can, and should, build meaningful connections. Consider the people you enjoy working with or someone that always has something interesting to say. Connect with people that you want meaningful relationships with, not people who could advance your career for the sake of it.
iii. Finding purpose
Finding a purpose in what you do can dramatically change your daily life and your professional life. One of the most common bits of advice is to do what you love or find work that you’re passionate about. What are you excited to do? How can you impact other people through your skills and experience?
Almost every job provides the opportunity to affect others positively; keep in mind that everyone is going through uncertain times right now.
4. Keep Your Options Open
Developing a work-life balance and learning to bounce back can source right back to the variety of options and opportunities available. One good thing to come from 2020 is that professionals learned that they shouldn’t get too comfortable in one position or one company. The future is always uncertain, and you must look ahead to identify your opportunities before they’re gone.
Workers typically spend about five years, or less, in one job. You should do the following to ensure that you’re always aware of your options:
i. Devote Yourself to Skill-Building
Companies moved away from promoting tenure a long time ago. Now businesses of all sizes value skills, attitudes, and abilities over how long someone has spent with the company.
ii. Always Watch the Job Market
Watching the job market isn’t just about scrolling through an app once a week or occasionally applying. Know where the good jobs are and how to access them.
To build professional resilience, and understand your opportunities, make a habit of using non-traditional platforms. Heading into more focused and less saturated job markets such as JobGet can help you sort through the real prospects. Don’t get bogged down with misleading job descriptions instead of keeping tabs on platforms that focus on quality postings.
iii. Know How to Negotiate
Know how to negotiate with your skillset, experience, and resume. Make sure you understand how your skills could apply or how specific experience makes your application unique.
5. Be Patient and Ask Others for Patience Too
Earlier, we mentioned taking action right now, but you should also practice patience. Imagine if you jump at the first job offer or commit to a plan right away. It might not work out if that first job offer was the same position you had ten years ago. There is a difference between being patient and putting off action out of fear or worry.
Being resilient does not mean taking blind action. It’s a cliche to say that success doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s true. You will try things and fail. We have all experienced mistakes or realized through hindsight that something wasn’t a great decision.
Through patience, you can build professional success, learn from your mistakes, and evolve from hindsight. When you’re working, interviewing, job searching, or meeting with other professionals, know that you deserve the opportunity to think things through.
How can you build patience with yourself? Use these tactics:
- Give yourself a scheduled ‘cool down’ time.
- Schedule dedicated time to think about the challenge, so you’re not worried about it all the time.
- Stop doing busywork or things that are not important.
- Talk yourself through the advice you would give someone else. Combine patience with the Solomon paradox.
- Think of a few possible outcomes that you would find acceptable.
Patience and resilience go hand in hand. Building patience with yourself will help you become more resilient. However, building patience with others, while more complicated, will help develop professional strength.
You can control how, when, and with what purpose you communicate. Many people experience impatience because they feel rushed. Use these methods to avoid feeling rushed while still being professional and addressing workplace needs:
i. Delay Communication
Putting things off is not always the answer, but not everything needs a response right this second. To avoid delaying communication indefinitely or accidentally forgetting about it, schedule it. Tell the person that needs an answer:
- I’ll let you know on Friday.
- Let me get back to you Monday morning.
- I need some time to think about this. Can we discuss this again tomorrow?
- I need to look at our calendar to see if we can meet that deadline. Let’s plan a day that works for the team.
Planning delayed communication gives you the power to consider if the activity or challenge is necessary seriously. It builds professional resilience and unity if you stick to your commitments.
ii. Prioritize Development
Not everything that happens in the workplace results in growth. We should all avoid busywork, but you can actively watch for opportunities to promote professional development.
These opportunities don’t usually present themselves. Seek them out by asking people you enjoy working with for a bit of their time. Then, wait to build skills and connections by scheduling a time that works for them. Ideally, you can find a mentor and schedule quality time with them.
Becoming resilient professionally is an ongoing process. It is also a potent tool that can help you learn to bounce back, adapt, and succeed. After you’ve learned how to become resilient, you can pursue massive goals and overcome overwhelming obstacles.
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