Around the holidays it’s common to reflect back on the past 12 months and look forward to the next. Has this year been a good one? A struggle? Whether you’ve had a banner year or a year you’re happy to be done with, what comes next? Are you ready to make needed changes and move forward? 

How did you respond when things didn’t go as planned? How well did you adapt and adjust to changing circumstances? Instead of creating a laundry list of New year’s resolutions, consider strengthening your resilience.

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, threats, or significant sources of stress. It means bouncing back from difficult experiences. Resilience is not about simply enduring something, it’s about recovering, re-energizing, and advancing.

People who develop their resilience improve themselves in many ways, including strengthening their skills and effectiveness as executive leaders. Resilient executives are better able to learn from mistakes and unexpected obstacles. They more readily develop new strategies and directions, and optimistically move forward.

“Fortunately, resilience can be purposely and systematically improved,” said Maren Perry, president of Arden Coaching. “You are not stuck with the hand you’ve been dealt. An experienced executive coach can provide a framework and knowledgeable insights to speed up the process and improve effectiveness.”

Things you can do now to develop resilience

1. Work on flexibility and adaptability. Recognize and regularly remind yourself that change and uncertainty are a part of normal, everyday life. You are not being singled out. Stuff happens! Reflect and move forward.

2. Establish challenging, but realistic goals. Some believe that the only goals worth having are big, disruptive, change-the-world goals. “If, in your heart, you know that your goal is unachievable, you’ll set yourself up for failure,” said Perry. “You’re more likely to act on, and achieve, a goal that is realistic.”

3. Connect with others. An important factor contributing to resilience is having a supportive, trusted network of relationships. Do you have people you can count on? People you can turn to after a tough day?

4. Build a positive attitude by being grateful. Perry notes that, “Modifying your point of view and fostering a grateful mindset fundamentally changes how you experience the world. Yes, it sounds cliché, but challenges become opportunities. Ask yourself, ‘how might this difficulty open new opportunities for me? What have I learned about myself?’”

5. Use adaptive strategies that work for you. Ask yourself if there ways you’ve successfully dealt with adversity in the past. If so, recall those strategies and tactics and use them intentionally. For some, a weekend with friends might help them overcome a setback and move them forward. For others, a walk in the woods clears their mind and refreshes their spirit. Journaling to record your experiences, feelings, and actions may also help you further understand and build your resilience.

Things will go wrong. There is no doubt, we will encounter problems, challenges, and disappointments. However, building your resilience will help you move forward in a positive, productive way and make you a better leader. Read more about resilience: “Success in an Uncertain World: The Power of Resilience.”

To learn more about how executive coaching can build and enhance individual and organizational resilience, contact Arden Coaching at info@ardencoaching.com or 646.684.3777.