How to Boost Your Resilience and Handle Change Like A Pro
We Live in A VUCA World
Our world is high-paced, unpredictable, always on and constantly in flux.
Unparalleled pressure to perform.
There’s no such thing as stability anymore. Definitely no concept of “the norm,” either.
Think about it. The most successful companies these days are known for how they innovate, transform and disrupt their industry. Which is now the target that all emerging businesses strive for.
Every day at work you’re asked to consider...
How can you do things differently?
Think outside the box?
Change your corporate environment, and thus the world?
It’s like the wild wild west out there. And it doesn’t seem to be calming down anytime soon.
Every aspect of our society has and is continuing to shift at a rapid pace akin to a train barreling full steam ahead towards the edge of a cliff…
…without any breaks.
Get this – things have gotten so unruly that organizational psychologists have coined a name for it: VUCA. Which stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.
Fitting, don’t you think?
But this poses a problem. An elephant-sized problem, to be exact.
Because needless to say, you can’t keep up.
Now, in case you feel guilty about that, let me stop you right there. Because we’re not MEANT to keep up. We’re simply not built for it. As you’ve heard me mention before, our bodies still function as if we’re living in the caveman era. Our brains and nervous system process our surroundings, interactions and life experiences through the lens of a much simpler time. It’s like trying to navigate a world saturated with color when you can only see black and white.
This stress-inducing, insomnia-provoking, illness-enhancing world we live in isn’t going to change anytime soon. But you can’t keep living like this either.
Always tired. (Scratch that — exhausted.)
In a constant state of overwhelm.
Anxious and on edge.
Worn down by what feels like a gigantic, 100-LB boulder of pressure resting on your shoulders.
Every morning you drag yourself out of bed (after at least 2 snoozes, but who’s counting?) and think the exact same thing: There’s got to be more to life than this.
You Can't Change the World, but Here's What You Can Do
That dream, that hope, that picture of what life could be?
It exists. And it’s accessible. You can morph your dreams into reality.
There is more to life than your current state of affairs. Without question.
But you won’t find it just by changing your environment. Unless you plan on dropping everything, leaving your life behind and retreating to a remote island. With abundant sunshine. And palm trees. No stress to be found. Or deadlines. Or to-do’s.
Great in theory. But I’m willing to bet entirely unrealistic.
So here’s what I recommend: Strengthen your resilience muscle.
Because it takes one second to lose your footing and never get back on track. And if you can’t refind center, each nudge that life gives you will feel like an agonizing blow. Pushing you further and further off course.
Becoming more resilient allows you to bend, not break. To sway as the tides of change move you — yet never lose your roots. Remain firmly grounded in place.
Resilience helps you go from “Everything is falling apart” to “I’ve got this (even if everything is falling apart).”
How do you do it? Mindfulness.
Mindfulness Benefit #1:
Resilience Requires Rest
Mindfulness isn’t a form of self-help, “woo woo” or religious. It’s an awareness practice — pure and simple. You can place your awareness on a variety of things, yet the most popular point of focus is the breath. Because your breathing is the only thing happening in the present moment.
When you do this, you allow your mind to rest. To take a break from the never-ending bombardment of distractions and stimuli you face throughout the day.
Like the first moment of silence after you escape the blaring horns of a mid-day traffic jam.
Or the feeling of your seat hitting the chair after running around all day.
Or when you’re finally able to put down the bag (questionably filled with rocks) you’ve been schlepping since first thing this morning.
Your mind needs — and deserves — a break.
This is the first reason mindfulness builds resilience. Because if you’re worn down and running on fumes, you can’t possibly handle any curve balls thrown your way. It’s like trying to function after pulling an all nighter vs. getting a good night’s sleep. Or training for a marathon without ever taking a rest day. We understand that our physical body requires rest to thrive. But here’s the thing – our mind does too.
Mindfulness Benefit #2:
Resilience Requires You to Face Your Struggles Head On
There’s another reason mindfulness builds resilience. And it’s a big one:
A mindfulness practice helps you sit with and be okay with what is. To face the present moment head on, with strength. Not run from it. Or hide. Or try to fix it.
In other words, mindfulness helps you get better at sitting with discomfort. Which is a necessary skill if you want to want to thrive — let alone survive — in this VUCA landscape we call life.
Because life is messy, at best. And mindfulness empowers you to navigate this mess with a sense of personal agency. Even though it may feel easiest in the moment to avoid hardship at all costs, you can’t combat life’s difficulties if you don’t see and deal with them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you this lightheartedly. Or trying to tell you this is easy. There’s a reason it’s called a mindfulness practice. It takes time. And a steady, unwavering commitment.
If you find yourself feeling disheartened and not sure you can do it, just think back on a time that you struggled to learn a new skill that now feels like second nature. Like riding a bike, for example.
Shiny, brand new bike. Two-wheeler, aka big kid status. (See ya, training wheels.)
You walk out onto the street, feeling like you’re ready to conquer the world. Helmet snug, prepared for the mishaps and stumbles.
You fall. But you get back up. Over and over again.
Because there is no way you’re giving up. You can feel and taste the freedom of soaring along, two wheels or bust. You’re determined, like a dog with a bone. There’s no turning back.
Eventually, something clicks. You find your balance. Hearing your parents squeal with delight behind you, you glide down the street. Thinking, “I’m doing it! I’m really doing it!”
Achieving something that once felt impossible was invigorating, right?
^^ This is what you can achieve through your mindfulness practice too.
Because increasing your resilience by way of mindfulness allows you to face life as is, and rise anyway. It’s a special kind of freedom that’s so sweet you can almost taste it. The kind that liberates you from the burden of whatever’s going on around you. So that when the world feels like it’s spinning out beneath your feet, you can stand tall. Grounded, and in control.
Paints quite a picture, doesn’t it? One that’s starkly different from the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous climate we live in.
Truth is, as I said above, nothing seems to be slowing down anytime soon. There may not be an end in sight either. So the best thing you can do – perhaps the only thing – is strengthen your resilience against it.
It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Certain despite uncertainty. Calm amidst the chaos.
And mindfulness helps you do just that.
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