The New Year is here and full of bright potential: new beginnings, hopes, and plans. But as you well know, bright potential is NOT enough to make the changes that you annually promise yourself.
How can you make this New Year different?
Begin by connecting the dots of past events so they push you forward in a positive manner. In other words, become aware of the skills you develop when you are challenged, stressed, or when your back is against the wall. Make these skills conscious so you can access them whenever you need them.
This is called developing conscious resilience.
Developing Resilience: Your Personal Toolkit for Success in 2017
What will conscious resilience give you?
It is an expanded set of tested skills that you have personally developed because they work for you. This is expertise you can purposefully dip into, much like you do with your toolbox when you want to hang a picture and need a hammer or screwdriver. The key is to make these special talents of yours conscious. That means owning them.
Following these five, simple steps (based on my book The Resilient Woman) will help you do just that.
1) Let Stress Be Your Guide
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.
— Paul Romer
We never seek to change, to learn, when we’re “fat and happy.” Stress is often the first push we need to move forward, and it is a great motivator to take immediate action. Welcome it, and be curious about what it is going to teach you.
Whether your stress is from:
- being fired and realizing you’ve hated your job, and so it is truly time to change, or
- gaining enough weight that even your fat clothes don’t fit, or
- realizing you’re more in love with your boyfriend’s potential than with him (and he’s choosing not to exercise that potential),
2) Use Your Own Wisdom to Determine What Is Right for You
Do not fear your inner light.Carry it into a dark world. —Lailah Gifty Akita
So often, we have the answers we need inside of us, but they’re frequently the ones we’d rather NOT listen to for fear they will further complicate our lives. The second step in connecting the dots is to turn up the volume on how you have handled similar challenges in the past. This will allow you to begin to hear and draw on your inner wisdom and develop resilience.
Why is this so difficult? Because inside of us are many opinions, many voices, many should’s, all internalized in the past, but NOT all helpful in the present. When we shift the focus from our needs to those of others, we make their voices louder than our own.
We put all our emphasis on anticipating their reactions:
- Mother will be horrified.
- My friends won’t like me.
- I’ll look like a wimp if I don’t answer first.
But the truth is that, you usually know what you need to do. Don’t be afraid to listen to the person who knows you better than anyone else, the expert in your life—YOU.
3) Take Charge and Create Helpful Boundaries
A broken soul doesn’t invest in boundaries because the world has crossed them, without mercy. – Shannon L. Alder
Deciding what is right for you and what is NOT, is crucial in moving forward. The third step is actively setting your boundaries.
The simplest boundary to erect is to say NO. NO is a complete sentence – but NO may be the most difficult word you can utter, particularly when you are trying to move forward. Why? Because being so clear about what is right and what if not right for you might be something you haven’t practiced much.
Other helpful boundaries might be:
- Don’t seek permission to set a limit. This is your right, and you have the power to do this. Say what is right for you, but don’t feel that you need to justify this.
- Don’t feel you need to apologize for setting a limit. You can empathize with the position this may put the other person in, but that is very different from asking forgiveness.
- Don’t feel trapped by needing to be nice all the time. You are allowed to have opinions about what you will and will NOT do, just like everyone else.
4) Think Positively, Even When You’re Angry
Find a place inside where there is joy; the joy will burn out the pain.—Joseph Campbell
Whether telling yourself you can get into that very tight parking space even though you are angry with yourself for being late, or redefining yourself in the wake of realizing your husband is having an affair, thinking positively is a great way to connect the dots and move forward.
The other choice you have is to feel trapped. This is a waste of energy that will only leave you in the same place you were in previously. You will feel even more frightened and exhausted because you have depleted your energy beating yourself up instead of determining a plan.
You can change this type of self-sabotage. Begin by seeing the crisis you are in as a gift.There is a present in this pain, and that present is finding more of you, undiscovered parts of you, parts of you that will make you proud.
It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.
How do you do this? See what is facing you as a learning opportunity, even if it’s a lesson you’d rather Not deal with or don’t have time for. See what you are struggling with as an opportunity for you to shine, even if only you know about it.
You have the power to think positively about your ability to face and thrive in the wake of anything you must confront. It all begins with re-framing what you are dealing with as a present that will help you develop a skill you needed.
5) Develop Gratitude for Who You Are and What You Have Learned
Now I walk in beauty, beauty is before me, beauty is behind me, above and below me.—Navajo Prayer
Your experiences helped shape you into the person you are today. Learning what you need to know is a gift. Gratitude is the key that allows you to put the dots of your life in a positive perspective by focusing on what each of your struggles has taught you.
This is the final step in utilizing past experience to move forward and learning to develop conscious resilience.
How can you connect the dots of your life in the New Year to move forward?
- Learn from the past and own what your struggles have taught you.
- Trust your inner wisdom and make your skills—your resilience—conscious.
- Take charge and protect yourself by setting helpful boundaries.
- Reframe your story and see your crisis as a gift, a great motivator to develop a needed skill.
- Focus on gratitude for what you’ve learned from your struggles and how this has positively shaped you.
Conscious resilience is a great gift you can give yourself and those around you everyday in the New Year. By tapping into your conscious resilience, you’ll start—and finish—2017 with a confidence that is equal to the challenges that lie ahead.