When you are faced with challenges in your career, how do you respond? When you experience negative emotional reactions about your job, can you control what you feel? Do you know what it means to be resilient?

The word resilience typically refers to a person's ability to bounce back from setbacks; however, as an educator and career coach I've learned that a person who becomes resilient has developed a success focused mindset. Where resiliency matters most is on the job because this demonstrates to an employer that you are flexible and adaptable to changes and new situations. What it doesn't mean is that you are emotionally bulletproof as there are times when you have to take the emotional hit and work through what you are feeling as circumstances around you change.

A resilient mindset means that you have developed a practiced attitude with an even disposition and quiet reserve that draws upon your inner strength. This allows you to avoid feeling extreme emotional highs and lows, while also turning worry into informed action. You have also developed a self-assurance that is confident in your skills and capacity to learn. It is possible to develop and maintain a disposition like this on a consistent basis through conscious self-awareness of the emotional reactions you experience and making mindset maintenance an ongoing process as part of your personal and professional self-development.

Is There Anything Holding You Back?

What I found through my own experience and work as an educator, coach, and mentor, is that a person can be normally resilient but when faced with challenges they may find it difficult to recover or make a comeback. The root cause is usually due to something that is holding them back and it is often related to some form of uncertainty. For example, if there are new duties or responsibilities being added to your job it may be natural to feel uncertain if you can take on additional tasks or complete what is required. Any time you believe you are not sure you know how to accomplish a given task you can consider it to be a learning opportunity. Begin with a self-assessment of what you know and then develop a plan to address any areas where additional knowledge or skills are required. Developing a resilient mindset means that you may stop long enough to reflect but you don't allow uncertainty to continue to hold you back in your job or career.

Is There Anything You are Afraid of Now?

When a person becomes afraid it can be related to the fear of failure or even success because both lead to outcomes that may be beyond your control. Whenever I coach someone who has developed a number of worse case scenarios I always ask them to work through each one of them and consider the worst possible outcome. While the result may not always pleasant it does take out the unknown element and this is when progress towards resolution of the problem begins. Fear can be debilitating, especially when it is left unchecked for any length of time, and it is usually based upon limiting self-beliefs. When a person is fearful or uncertain of what will happen next it is often accompanied by a feeling of lack of control, and then they may begin to question their ability to respond to the situation. This can lead to insecurity and a focus on the problem rather than the action needed to resolve it. Over time this negative attitude and self-talk becomes habitual, and this pattern requires a concerted effort to change.

Here's How to Conduct Mindset Maintenance

The following list can be used anytime you experience a feeling of being less than resilient to situations or circumstances.

Attitude Tune-Up: Evaluate your self-talk over a specific time period to monitor your disposition. For example, you could keep a notepad open at your desk for a day and periodically jot down what you think about yourself, your job, your career, and your skills or abilities throughout the day. You will likely begin to find that a pattern emerges and you can make corrections as needed to improve your mindset. There are many people who recommend the use of positive affirmations as mindset maintenance but I have found that those are not helpful when a person is in a negative frame of mind. What seems to be more effective is to develop and maintain a career plan with specific checkpoints so that you are monitoring your progress and believe you have control of your job and career, which will greatly improve your overall attitude.

Control the Controllable: What is frustrating at times for some people is their inability to control situations, reactions from other people, or even the specifics of their job. But what you have control over first and foremost is your disposition, which includes your mindset and attitude, along with the level of performance you put into your job each and every day. If you focus on what you can control, and be less concerned about what is beyond your control, you will find it easier to focus on your priorities and self-development. This can ultimately make your job performance much stronger and more effective in the long run.

Have Support Resources Available: It can be very helpful to develop a support circle that consists of colleagues and friends who you can contact any time that you feel negative emotions, self-talk, or self-beliefs. While your support network may not have specific answers for you they can help to change the focus of your thinking so you can regroup and not get off track. I also recommend that you keep inspirational sources handy and this can include a motivational magazine or book, or even inspiring websites that you have bookmarked for future use. The purpose is to help rebalance your thoughts so that you maintain a positive and productive mindset.

Manage Your Emotional Reactions: This is the most challenging aspect of maintaining resiliency, keeping your emotions in check. If you believe that you have been bounced around in your job or career then it is possible you will develop a fight or flight attitude, which is not advantageous for your career as it can show up in your tone as you communicate with others on the job. While emotions are natural you can become practiced in addressing them as soon as they are experienced. For example, if you feel frustrated about a situation then get out a piece of paper or open a blank document and begin to write out your thoughts. This will allow you to work through those emotions so that it does not have a long-term negative impact on your job.

Learn to Be Resilient and Aware

The following model is designed to help you develop a statement of positive self-belief that will allow you to be AWARE of your mindset so you can maintain your resiliency.

Acknowledge: You acknowledge your capacity to learn and change when needed. You are aware of your strengths and skill sets, along with areas of development that you have a plan to address.

Work Ethic: You will continue to perform your very best on the job and when faced with a challenge you don't allow it to have a negative impact on your performance or cause you to shut down.

Accept: You accept conditions and circumstances as they are, and ascertain what is within your ability to control so that you stay focused on your priorities and personal productivity.

Reject: You stop negative self-talk and reject any beliefs that do not support your progress and development on the job. Instead, you focus on your capabilities and what you contribute to your job.

Expectation: As you maintain your sense of balance and remain resilient, you begin to expect the best outcome for situations based upon your ability to adapt, learn, and develop well-informed plans.

Learning to develop resiliency is really about finding your own rhythm and establishing a pattern of thought that you are capable of handling any situation that comes along, even if you do not have all of the answers. It doesn't matter if you are just starting out in a career, or you have extensive experience, everyone has a capacity for learning. It is a matter of feeling capable and competent through the skills you have acquired while continuing to work on your own self-development, and it is all dependent upon the beliefs you create to support and maintain it. It is possible to be resilient and address any situation, circumstance, or change with a positive frame of mind if you conduct periodic maintenance and fine tune both your self-talk and self-beliefs. When you believe you are emotionally strong, there is nothing you cannot face in your job or career.

About Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson has worked in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005. He specializes in distance learning, adult education, faculty development, and online teaching. His roles have included Chief Academic Officer, Dean, Faculty Director, Dissertation Mentor, Faculty Workshop Facilitator, Manager of Faculty Development, and Online Faculty. Dr. J has also served as a mentor and coach to students and faculty.

Dr. J has a Ph.D. in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement, and a Master of Business Administration, MBA. Dr. J has extensive experience with curriculum development, having authored courses and curriculum for bachelors, masters, and doctorate programs. He has also built professional development courses and curriculum for faculty development programs.

To learn about Dr. Johnson's background, please visit: http://www.drbruceajohnson.com/about-dr-j

As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has also published over 200 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and career development.

Dr. J published the following resources:

  • Transform Adult Education: Expert Teaching Strategies for Educators,
  • Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs,
  • Appreciative Andragogy: Taking the Distance Out of Distance Learning,
  • Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business

To learn more about these affordable resources, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/z5wve3w

About Affordable Quality Writing

Dr. J founded Afforded Quality Writing in 2003 to offer skill-based resume writing and strengths-based career coaching. Dr. J helps hundreds of clients each year by providing a well-written and highly effective resume, along with instilling in them a renewed self-confidence and sense of purpose.

To learn more about Dr. Bruce A. Johnson, please visit the following resources:

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