At times, every person faces a setback, a disappointment or a failure. It is part of being a human.
If you are a person who has goals, plans, dreams or something you want, then along the path there will be times that you feel like you’re going backwards. This is a normal part of trying to achieve, and I believe it’s actually a good thing.
If you didn’t have these times of failure or frustration, you would miss out on developing a crucial trait to help you achieve what you want: resilience.
Resilience is a trait we have naturally as children. We don’t learn it, it is an inborn ability.
Think of a young child learning new skills, such as walking or talking. They are always testing, pushing, learning and failing. The amount of setbacks a young child faces is staggering. They will fall over and make mistakes many more times than they succeed. Yet they will always try again. This is resilience in its purest form. And it is the secret to learning an incredible amount and develop at an amazing speed.
As adults, we can start to forget that we have this ability. I believe this is because for most of us, we are rarely outside our comfort zone. Once we get to a level of respectable normality, we start to coast, and do things that are easy for us.
However, once you start to reach for a new goal, the failures, disappointments and setbacks will return.
I believe that the more resilient you become, the more you can shape the world to how you want it to be.
People who give up on their goals and plans usually do this because they have no resilience.
At times in my life, I have felt a lack of resilience and given into failures and frustrations. Yet I have also learned some key techniques to help to become more resilient.
‘Speed is the fuel of resilience’
I learned this idea recently from consultant Alan Weiss. Whenever you have a setback or a failure, the faster you make a comeback, the more you feel resilient. It is as if the speed fuels your resilience in some way.
The usual behavior after a defeat is to try to hide. We regress and make excuses about why we can’t or don’t want to keep going. Yet the act of ‘getting back on the horse’ immediately is a powerful secret to build your resilience.
The sooner you get yourself working towards your goals again, the more resilience you will have.
Don’t Attach to an Outcome
If you get attached to a specific outcome, you will find that it is very difficult to be resilient. The fact is that life is in a constant state of flux, and even though you want certain results, the reality may not always match up.
My suggestion here is to think bigger. Instead of getting attached to specific outcome, focus on the larger goal or purpose you want to achieve. See your current situation as a stepping stone to your big goals. If you reduce attachment to a specific outcome, you will find that you are able to make progress quicker and with less stress.
Don’t Generalize a Setback. Be Specific.
Often when you have a setback, it is easy to fall into a generalizing pattern. You see this a lot with people who break up with their romantic partner. Suddenly they feel like all relationships are doomed and that all future potential partners are going to be the same as their ex.
Generalization of any kind will only make you feel less empowered. If you suffer a setback or failure, reassure yourself that it was only in this one instance, and it was one specific situation.
The more you make it a single event, the less power it has over you. The more you make it into a general pattern that is part of your life, the less you can have power over it.
Think of yourself as Resilient
The final suggestion might seem a little redundant, yet you will be amazed how often simply thinking of yourself as a resilient person will help you grow your ability to bounce back. You might even like to tell people close to you that you are focused on becoming more resilient and to ask them to encourage you.
By changing you self-image to see yourself as a resilient person, you will trigger more of this behavior in challenging times.
Remember that just like any other ability, the resilience you practice will help to grow more of it. It is the same as exercising your muscles. If you do it often, you get physcially stronger. If you neglect using a muscle, it entropies.
As a child you had an incredible amount of resilience. Even if you have let your resilience entropy, you can grow it back if you choose to use it.
The power of resilience is inside, laying dormant and ready to help you rise again.