How to build your resilience muscle. Get into good shape to survive and thrive.

Life can be a challenge or an adventure and sometimes you don’t always get what you want. People often talk about resilience in life and at work but what exactly is it, why do we need it and how do you get it? So many questions and I’m here to help. Resilience is the ability to adapt and bounce back when things don’t go as expected. Failure isn’t the opposite of success, it is part of success (repeat often). Resilient people don’t dwell on their failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from mistakes and then move onwards (and upwards). Boom! There are many wonderful words associated with resilience; flexible, versatile and supple which also lead to grit, determination, perseverance, fortitude and toughness. Taking the worthwhile time to build up resilience makes your overall strength repeatable so you have it ready when you need it.

Common traits in resilient people include:

  • Keeping a positive outlook and a sense of hope for a rosie future.
  • Persisting with their set goals.
  • Compassionate and empathetic to others (and themselves).
  • They have an inner confidence and don’t worry about what others think of them.
  • Focus on what they can change and have control over. No victim mindset here.



There are several practical strategies for ensuring you are well positioned to be resilient and the more you can infuse into your daily life, the better your resilience trampoline will work. Resilience is more than positive thinking, and requires effort to be build up mastery and muscle you can use. There is even the opportunity for post-traumatic growth, that’s a future topic.

Learn The Lesson. Every crisis can teach you something, keep looking for the lesson with every mistake and absorb the learning, which you will likely call upon in the future. Ask yourself what you could do differently next time to have a better result.

Adapt Or Die. OK, so that’s a bit harsh. Remember that things/plans sometimes change and you’ll need to be flexible enough to adapt and adjust to set your new course. Being adaptable is a huge component of resilience.

Take Action. Take ownership and think about what you can do to improve the situation you find yourself in. After the problem solving (as opposed to inaction, negativity or feeling powerless) do those empowering things now to move you forward.

Keep Perspective. Although the situation can seem overwhelming in the present, take a deep breath and choose your response. Consider how much will this event impact you in the longer term, and is it irreversable? Don’t blow it up unnecessarily.

Use Your Buddy System. Keep your relationships and friendships alive with people who care for you, and call upon your network when you need a hand. People are generally awesome if you ask for support, don’t cut yourself off when you need humans most.

Deepen Your Connections. Develop your work relationships so you’re happier in your role. Having real relationships at work will help you manage stress as your support network will be broader than family and friends and your work buddies will understand the environment and you’ll lessen the stress for each other.

Set SMART Goals. Learn to set effective personal goals so you have a map to take you to your dream, whatever that dream may be. Setting and achieving goals will build your confidence and consistent daily effort is a better indicator of success than big infrequent wins. It takes discipline to be successful and resilient.

Don’t Forget To Play. When things are looking ugly it’s a really good time to remember to use your sense of humour. Having a good old laugh (often about the most ridiculous things) is a great stress reliever. Or de-stress by writing, dancing, singing, whatever it takes to lighten the load.

Believe In Your Awesome Self. Remember what you have accomplished so far and take pride in that. Recognise your own personal strengths and build up your confidence, you’ll face setbacks but you have a belief you will succeed, and crush it. Keep moving forward and take calculated risks to build your bravery muscle and confidence. Moving forward each time, getting closer to your goal.

Respect Your Body. By maintaining your physical health, you will be become more emotionally resilient. The usual mantras apply here, get some regular exercise, eat well and not like a student, make time to sleep and rest to replenish your mind, body and soul.

Stay Optimistic. Become one of those shiny personalities people are drawn to, through your positivity and hopeful nature. Yep you’ll be thrown off course on occasion and this is the thing called life. Keep going and shirk off the negatives, knowing you have overcome setbacks before and survived/thrived. Many setbacks are temporary, don’t make them permanent by closing down your thinking just when you need to be thinking bigger.

How we think about situations can have an impact on how successfully we deal with an event. Here is where you can use thought awareness to note how you may be influencing the outcome with certain types of self-talk using statements which include permanence, pervasiveness or personalisation. If you wouldn’t say it to your best friend in a crisis, don’t say it to yourself.

Permanence – Seeing the impacts/event as temporary rather than permanent. One bad day, does not make a bad week.

Pervasiveness – Not letting the setback invade other areas of your life which are going well. Focus on the specific and not the general, not everything is going wrong.

Personalisation – Not accepting the blame for the event, and realising other people or circumstances have also contributed to the bad outcome. Yes, you are part of the result but it is not always your fault.

Embrace the challenge, this is an adventure and opportunity for growth and learning, at set-back is not a reflection of your self worth. Be committed to your life and goals, lean into all the things you care about, help yourself and others. Focus your energy on the areas where you have personal control and most impact, feel empowered and confident. Now go and do it!