If your work trajectory is like most career climbers, you will have job obstacles and pressures every step of the way. But job skills and talents aren’t the only prerequisites for career advancement and success. The Holy grail of mental and physical resilience also determines whether you reach your goals, perhaps even more than your talents. The following 10 commandments of resilience help you perform you best work and sustain you over the long haul.
Thou shalt look for the upside of every downside situation.
You will have many difficult and stressful job challenges. Maintaining a positive attitude can help you better handle stress. It’s easy to recognize your shortcomings, but don’t forget to recognize your talents and strengths. Deal yourself a positivity card on a regular basis to build your mind’s creative mojo and offset stress juices that could bring your career to a screeching halt. Positivity acts as a stress buffer when you’re overloaded with work tasks, broadening your mind and range of vision. When you’re searching for a solution to a work challenge, your negative emotions keep you focused on the problem. Looking for the opportunity in the difficulty expands your range of vision and bolsters possibilities and creativity.
Thou shalt refrain from making unreasonable demands on thyself and treat thyself with great respect and compassion at all times.
Recognize how often you berate yourself, call yourself names or shame yourself. Substitute self-compassion for self-judgment. Stand up to impossible standards and harsh judgments instead of attacking yourself. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and see them for what they are: habits, old behavior patterns or just plain mistakes that all of us make. When you’re more loving to yourself and accept your limitations with compassion, you cut your stress in half and double your career sustainability. Then you’re dealing only with the stressful experience, not the added negative feelings from self-judgment. Put away your gavel and when your inner judge overshadows you, amp up your compassionate side and let it lead you to career productivity and success.
Thou shalt grow rhino skin
Remain resilient in the face of rejection and self-doubt—conditions every career climber faces at some point. Try to accept rejection with a dispassionate eye without bawling if you can. Throw your arms open to critical feedback and use it to grow and strengthen your career. Tell yourself that setbacks are not the end of the story; they’re an opportunity to learn and grow. Remind yourself that the natural arc of progress isn’t an unbroken ascending line but a zigzagged upward spiral. Why? Because success is built on failure. You can’t have one without the other.
Thou shalt be drawn instead of driven
Thou shalt not work on autopilot. When you’re drawn instead of driven, you are master instead of slave to your job. You mindfully work from a centered place that puts you in charge of your busy mind so you don’t succumb to external or internal pressures. You’re attuned to yourself and your surroundings in a calm, nonjudgmental way and focus on what’s happening right now. Anchored in the present moment, an inner barometer guides your work life in a peaceful observing awareness of everything you do. Thou shalt find that place within thyself where you are drawn. Cultivating mindful productivity—instead of an intense focus on the completion of the task—enriches your career. Five minutes a day in which you still your busy mind and center on the quiet places inside sets the compass of your heart so you can be drawn, even in times of upheaval.
The trio of healthy lifestyle habits gives you the stamina to withstand just about any challenge the work world throws at you. Thou shalt get regular exercise instead of being a desk potato. Chances are the places you’ve been working out are closed during the quarantine. Find other ways to exercise and stay fit while sequestered at home, such as jogs, walks, pushups or lifting weights. Thou shalt practice healthy, nutritious eating and steer clear of quarantine 15 and Grab, Gobble, Gulp and Go. And thou shalt get plenty of rest and sleep instead of burning the midnight oil.
Thou shalt keep a to-be list alongside your to-do list
Make a to-be list alongside your to-do list and think about what you would put on it. Meditate a minimum of 5 minutes a day. Make it a point to be outdoors as much as possible, watch sunsets and listen to nature: birds tweeting, insects in the bushes, or frogs croaking. Jot down ways to get elbowroom to stretch and deep breathe between appointments, time to walk around the block and clear your head. Or enjoy the sweetness of doing nothing, pray, practice chair yoga at your desk, watch the grass grow or just contemplate the universe. The more you practice stilling your hurried mind and centering on the quiet places within you, the more you can access a calm state even in times of work upheavals. After applying the brakes and doing something for nothing, creative ideas incubate and hatch, and you’re ready to go again. Then watch your resilience, creativity and productivity soar.
Thou shalt ditch the desire for comfort, take risks and step into career growth pains.
Be willing to go to the edge of your emotional pain so you can be fully present with what lays beyond the barrier. Think of yourself as an elastic band that bends and stretches to a certain point before you spring back higher than you fall. Turn roadblocks into steppingstones. Make it a goal to use negative career challenges—no matter how painful, frustrating, big or small—as lessons from which to learn. Ask, “What can I manage or overcome here?” or “How can I turn this matter around to my advantage?” Identify self-doubts that have cramped your work style or crippled you from growing fully professionally. Harness them—instead of running from them—and channel them into useful skills so they don’t paralyze you. Find that one place in your career where you’ve been hiding, then stick your neck out from your comfort zone. Ask what edge you can go to in your job. Seek out risky career opportunities that help you bloom instead of low-risk situations that keep you safe in a bud.
Thou shalt embrace job uncertainty because job it isn’t a commodity you can count on
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, things are different, and the uncertainty of what the future holds looms, breeding unease, fear and anxiety. It’s more stressful wondering if you’ll get to your meeting on time than knowing you’ll be late. It’s less anxiety-inducing to know you missed the deal than being unsure of it. And it’s more fearful not knowing if you’re going to get sacked than knowing for sure you lost your job. While avoiding uncertainty is adaptive in that it keeps you safe and sound, the cocoon your primitive brain constructs can be a virtual prison. The same assumptions that keep you safe can prevent you from growing, taking necessary risks and reaching your career dreams. The most powerful antidote against career uncertainty is your perspective, which can victimize or empower you. When you figure out what you can control and what you can’t, it’s easier to develop uncertainty tolerance and accept whatever is beyond your control and learning to live with “maybe.”
Thou shalt retain a winning frame of mind
A winning frame of mind contains a growth mindset—the belief that defeat happens for you, not to you. If you have a growth mindset, you consider success and failure a package deal—like a hand and glove, milk and cookies, flip sides of the same coin—twins, not enemies. It’s an understanding that avoidance of failure morphs into avoidance of success. It’s a realization that in order to attain what you want, you must be willing to accept what you don’t want. Instead of giving up, you welcome obstacles, setbacks and disappointments—no matter how painful, frustrating, big or small—as opportunities to grow and learn instead of as defeat. You think of defeat as a personal trainer, and you control your happiness like baseball great Babe Ruth, arguably one of the best ball players of all time, whose winning frame of mind was contained in his famous quote, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” If you use Ruth’s wisdom in any career pursuit, “failure” can never bring your career to a screeching halt.
Thou shalt take time out to acknowledge realized goals
It’s important to take breathers and come up for air. Throw modesty out the window and savor the excitement of your accomplishments. Remember why you chose this career in the first place—your ambitions, dreams, and goals. Your love for what you do. Make sure you celebrate the milestones on your career trajectory: each promotion, successful deadline, and every accolade from the top down. Before moving on to the next item on your agenda, relish each success every step of the way.