Most people who run a home business face challenges and the stress of balancing work and life. Maybe you have to drop everything you are doing and postpone an important client call to respond to a call that your child got sick at school. Or it could be you find yourself suddenly facing unexpected challenges that seem insurmountable.
Maybe your marriage fell apart or you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a serious illness. Or perhaps like me, you started your business while raising a child with a severe mental illness, juggling work engagements with emergencies, hospitalizations and health crises for yourself and your child.
Any one of these or countless other situations can be traumatic and life changing. Some situations seem small and insignificant, while others can seem overwhelmingly difficult, if not seemingly impossible, to process and move beyond.
How do we keep getting up after we have been knocked down? The answer lies in taking steps to become more resilient.
Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Resilience is a skill that can be learned, and whether we like it or not, life gives us plenty of chances to practice.
Our resilience is often tied to our perceptions. In life there is struggle. Resilient people don’t waste difficult experiences and difficult times, but instead choose to use them as a catalyst for growth. How do they do it? One way is they choose to perceive pain and misfortune as temporary, Hara Estroff Marano, Editor-at-Large for Psychology Today, wrote in her article “The Art of Resilience.” So the very heart of learning to be more resilient lies in how we perceive our lives.
The good news is life gives Home Business Owners plenty of opportunities to exercise their resilience muscles
We exercise our resilience muscles – both when times are good and life seems easy, and those days when you would rather pull the sheets up over your head and stay in bed.
A good way to gauge your current level of resilience is to consider how you react when things don’t go your way, says Dr. Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, in TIME’s The Science of Happiness. His research shows that the way we cope with little stressors strongly predicts how we will deal with the big ones. When we don’t have the proper tools, we don’t have adequate means to face the obstacles life will inevitably present.
Most of us are not taught resilience; rather we gain it through life experience. Given that the average person experiences five to six major traumas in his/her life, these are very necessary but often-overlooked skills. I wish I had learned them in school. I use resilience way more than I use algebra! Fortunately, resilience is a skill that can be cultivated, practiced, and honed.
Lately, I have been spending a lot of time learning what helps develop and maintain resilience. I was recently speaking at a conference, and I shared the calamity of events our family has gone through over the last two years. A few people came up to me and asked how I get back up after getting knocked down so many times.
In my attempt to find solutions and coping strategies to help me raise my son, and in dealing with a lot of setbacks along the way, I’ve discovered a formula that can transform tragedy into triumph. And this applies not just to big tragedies, but also the everyday stuff we all deal with that weighs us down. It’s simple: courage plus resilience equals triumph.
I’ve been able to not only survive but also thrive over the last 15 years solely on a combination of courage and resilience. Both are necessary, and neither can work alone.
Courage: Catalyst for Resilience
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, courage is “the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
I love the word courage. It means I have to make the decision every day to do something that I know will be difficult, and may even be dangerous. And I need all of the mental and moral strength I can muster to persevere.
Some days, I view courage as the sheer strength to pull myself out of bed and face the day. Other days it’s having clear boundaries and standing my ground when it would be easier to give in. Hell, trying on a bathing suit is a total act of courage.
There have been so many times where I’ve felt like I have lost my courage. I’ve come to realize that while we might lose sight of our courage, we haven’t really lost it at all.
How do you identify with the word courage? What picture do you see in your mind when you think of the word courage? Do you associate it with a specific behavior or a mannerism? A characteristic? An emotion? A discipline or a virtue? How do you identify with the word? What images come to mind? Take a second to write them down, or even sketch them out.
Sometimes courage, as Mary Ann Radmacher says, is as simple as finding the strength to tell yourself “I’ll try again tomorrow.” Here’s an acronym to help you think about it:
- C = Compassion for yourself and others, even when you’re exhausted
- O = Overcoming fear and self-doubt
- U = Understanding and tapping into your strengths
- R = Recognizing all you have accomplished
- A = Adapting and being flexible
- G = Growing and learning
- E = Endurance to keep going
3 Ways to Build Resilience
How can we grow both tough and flexible enough to bounce back from anything? Here are three tips to help you exercise your resilience muscles every day:
Choose Your Expectations Wisely
Ray Wylie Hubbard is a great Texas singer and songwriter. One of his lyrics sums it up, “And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations. Well, I have really good days”. Being unhappy, frustrated, sad, or just about any other feeling, happens because our expectations and reality are out of alignment. We can’t control what’s happening much of the time, but we can certainly choose our expectations.
Make Yourself A Priority
Diet, sleep, and exercise – we’ve heard the advice so often we tend to forget it or blow it off, yet we do so at our own peril. As someone who has battled depression most of my life, I can tell you that changing my lifestyle changed my mood. I was so tired of hearing people preach about how I needed to be healthier. It got to a point where all I heard was “blah, blah, blah.” However it’s said so often and so adamantly because it’s true and it works. I’m not perfect, but I am more aware of my choices. I swim regularly, I get lots of sleep, and I stay active. I haven’t had an episode in three years (knock-on-wood), but guess what I started doing three years ago? Making better choices, swimming, going to bed earlier, and staying active. That’s no coincidence.
Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
We are either green and growing or ripe and rotting. When life becomes too comfortable, it’s easy to become complacent, and complacency is the enemy of courage and resilience.
Although it can be extremely difficult, it’s important to learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Resilient people challenge themselves to use their experiences as learning opportunities because they know that’s when they really grow. Ask yourself what this means for you in every situation you face. How can you use discomfort as a catalyst for growth?
Most people hold back because they can’t figure out how they are going to accomplish their goals. Thankfully, you don’t have to know how because that’s not the way your brain works. If you have a clear picture of your goal and visualize it, your brain will work backward to find ways to make it happen.
Only when you step outside of your comfort zone do you truly grow. If you haven’t been outside of yours in a while, now is the time to start.
Anne Grady is a Speaker, Author, and #TruthBomb Dropper.
Anne shares practical strategies that can be applied both personally and professionally to improve relationships, navigate change, and triumph over adversity. And she’ll make you laugh while she does it. Anne is a two time TEDx speaker, and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Fast Company and Inc. magazines, CNN, ESPN, and FOX Business. She is the best selling author of 52 Strategies for Life, Love & Work and Strong Enough: Choosing Courage, Resilience and Triumph.