There are times when it appears the tide has washed ashore. Your boat has sprung a leak. The sun has set in your backyard. During these temporary dark periods it appears that no matter how quickly you bail out water, paddle up stream, reach for safer ground, you still get nowhere.
You may widely open the window; nevertheless, it is you who refuses to let in the sunlight. No one else is refusing to count the multiple blessings, nor adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Snap out of it I say. Pronto! Press the reset button. Take action immediately.
Stop watching the same old movie. No more complaining! Sing a different song. The pity party ends right here, right now! Instead, laugh yourself silly. Put the spring back in your walk. Get your groove back. Put the smile back on your face. You have the power. It’s sticky. It will catch up with the rest of you, promise.
Start over immediately. There isn’t a second to lose. Why not start the day with a fresh new attitude?
I was reminded of this and the power of resilience by my children. I taught them that no problem is insurmountable. All issues large or small, simple or complex, common knowledge or private, could be handled collectively. They were raised to believe not much could not be cured at the dinner table, or through my home baked chocolate chip cookies, a pot of meatballs, and a large dose of laughter.
Years have progressed, problems have multiplied and grown in complexity; nevertheless, the rules of engagement, secrecy and comfort via the dinner table still apply. Last week my son relayed a story of such intense magnitude my hair practically stood up on end. My daughter’s reaction: “That is horrible”, visibly shaken. “So sad”, (Compassion)! Next, “We really dodged a bullet.”(No codependency there). Finally, “Pass the kale”. (Movin’ On)
I taught them well. Be compassionate. Know what is yours. Move on.
Foodie that I am, here is my RECIPE for Resilience. Thanks for the inspiration, kids.
R is for Response, Reaction & Relationships:
Your response and reaction to any given situation makes a world of difference in how things will turn out. Some people love a good challenge. Other people’s reaction: why me?
My rule of thumb:
Adversity = Opportunity
I say seize the opportunity. What is the nugget you can grab to learn, grow or prosper? Can you turn adversity into a stepping stone for personal growth and greatness? Connections are the heart of my world. My relationships run deep.
In relationships I used to only show up as my personal best. Now I understand that is utter nonsense. It’s exhausting! It is only by allowing ourselves to expose our imperfections, flaws and weakness, that one can fully explore, gain insight and restore emotional equilibrium. Love me or leave me I say. That’s how I sort out the excess.
Choose your confidants wisely.
Rule of thumb:
To have a friend you need to be a friend.
You can learn a lot hanging around the playground.
E is for ENTHUSIASM:
I truly have a zest for life. It has been said that my mood and attitude on my worst days resemble that of the average person on their best. I dance like no one is watching. I sing at the top of my lungs, anywhere, always. I have no business singing anywhere, ever. Every song is my favorite, ask my kids. I dress everyday as if I am going to a party. I always wear matching undergarments, in case of accidents. I will try any, I mean any, exercise craze, check out my basement. I begin each project with total commitment. I enter all relationships with my whole heart and total abandon.
This is how I roll. This is how I am wired. This is my genetic default button.
How does this help build resilience?
I fake it till I make it. I never let them see me sweat. I set the mood and hope the rest of me catches up. Eventually it does.
There are times in life when you will be presented with obstacles. You can view these as challenges or fight to the finish line. Or sing, dance, and look great doing it. Your choice!
C is for CYCLES & CHANGE
This too shall pass. What goes around comes around. What seems life altering today will not raise your blood pressure six months down the line.
This is hard to fathom when you are swimming upstream in the muck. It is true. I have heard it said if you round up your friends, colleagues, and even a random stranger or two; put your problems in a hat, you would most likely take back your own. It is also likely true that the dream job, home, boss and romances unrequited were really nightmares and bullets dodged. We just didn’t realize it at the time.
Change is inevitable. I never like to get too comfortable in life because as soon as I do, boom, disaster. Nine out of ten times the change is good. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
Chin up. Keep the faith. Retain your attitude of gratitude.
For this I keep a Gratitude List: Every night before I got to sleep I write down at LEAST three things I have to be grateful for. Even in our darkest periods, we still can count our blessings. Try it and see how quickly the cycles turn in your favor.
I is for INDEPENDENCE:
You were brought onto this planet alone and you will leave it alone. The truth is, no one is going to save you but YOU.
I spent the first half of my life waiting for my ship to come in; unfortunately I was at the airport. There was no knight in shining armor for me. No quick fix. No magic bullets. No happily ever after. Thank goodness! That is what built grit. The perfect playing field for transformation. When the hard work was necessary the magic could begin!
You can lean on your family and friends. You can read, download, mainline and listen to self-help audiobooks till you become the foremost authority on inner strength or your eyes and ears bleed. Attend all the latest and greatest “kick life in the butt” seminars and workshops. Do yoga, meditate, and stand on you head till you are centered yet blue on the face. In the end it is YOU who will need to take control of your destiny.
Vow to wake up tomorrow knowing that YOU have all the ingredients YOU need to have a fabulous life. YOU have the power to be and do anything YOU want. YOU will be, and do anything YOU want, provided YOU are willing to do the work.
P is for PREPARATION & PLAN B
You can never be too prepared in life; nor should you be without a carefully drafted backup plan. I fondly refer to this as a Plan B. Doesn’t hurt to have a Plan C and D just in case. Don’t wait till the floor drops out beneath you, you are gasping for air, have your finger in the dam, while balancing on the ledge by your pinky toe. The time to spring into action is now!
It will not help if you wait till you are down-sized to update your resume, Bio, and LinkedIn Profile. Update them today! Keep your coach and recruiters closely on hand too. Don’t continue to linger in negative relationships. Take control and ask for what you want. Do the soul searching required. Have the confidence necessary to get what you need, or move on. Don’t wait to go on a diet. Go back to school. Sign up for the webinar. Update your computer skills, or get a new haircut. DO IT NOW! Whatever you want to be, do, and have, is in your grasp. If you are willing to put in the work.
I always have my back up plan at the ready. I pack my parachute with a plan B and C. I keep a plan D and E tucked up my sleeve and shoved in my back pocket, just in case. Life has dealt me an interesting hand. I revel in it. Think of me as a Resiliency Eagle Scout.
Having a backup plan takes commitment and energy. I work at it hard. I set challenges and hurdles beyond my grasp. I envision the outcomes. I imagine I have already achieved the goal and initiative. My credo, “Failure isn’t an Option”. In my case it really wasn’t. It was a matter of life or death. Eat or be eaten. Feeding your kids or not feeding you kids.
I recommend getting an Accountability Partner. Someone to share your goals and aspirations with. Someone to send your weekly goals to, who will hold you accountable. They will listen to you when you lose faith. Steer you back on track when you turn left instead or right. Become your confidant, guidepost and most trusted advisor. Most importantly they celebrate your wins!
Second tip, do three things a day toward your goals each day. It does not matter how big or small.
What happens when you fail to take action?
E is for ENERGY
Energy is the life force of the universe. Since this is a business blog I will spare you my spiritual mambo jumbo and hide my Zen a bit. I will not pontificate on the point. Simple stated, what you put out into the universe will return. The earth is a cosmic boomerang. Like attracts like. Positive attracts positive. Kind acts will beget more kind acts. Compassion and empathy the same.
Careful here folks. In Reverse, evil will attract evil. Negative thoughts will bring on more negative thoughts. Disastrous thinking can bring on catastrophe.
What’s a girl to do? Change you attitude, obviously. Tall order. Difficult at best. Not impossible.
Here’s my trick. Think of yourself as a bucket of energy. Grab a piece of paper and make a line down the middle. On one side jot down all of the things that zap your energy; on the other side write down all the things that restore your energy reserves. The goal is to always keep the bucket balanced. This will restore you to sanity.
SWAT and Guerilla Restoration Tactics:
Some weeks are harder than others. It feels the elements have conspired against you. G-d has thrown down the gauntlet. For these times you must strap on the heavy artillery. Dig deep into your bag of tricks. Create a recovery Pu-Pu Platter of sorts, if you are to find your way back home.
These are the Sundays I play my Fight Song, dance with abandon, and sing along at the top of my lungs. Your Fight Song is the song you keep on your iPod that revives your energy stores. Makes you want to pump your fists. You know the one that makes you know you can fight another day. If you do not have one, get one immediately. I have a whole playlist!
Take your Fight Song on the road. Walk, run, jump, cycle, spin in circles for all I care, MOVE. I do yoga till my muscles shake at these times. I breathe, release, I MOVE ON!
Once depleted, I dance barefoot in my kitchen while donning a facemask, in between cleaning out closets. Multitasking is as essential as self-care during times of stress. I will do this while stirring a pot of meatballs, and baking a fresh batch of cookies. As the sauce simmers and the sweet smell of baked goods wafts through the house, it further settles any residue stress. I then calmly prepare for the week ahead. I am ready.
As I gather my family back at the dinner table to share a meal and solve the world’s problems; I am now ready willing and able. Resilience restored, they can hit me with their best shot.
We have gone full circle my dear readers.
As my son gathers his things to drive off into the sunset, I know all is well in my world.
I hope you too digested this recipe and are full of hope and new possibilities.
About the Author: Joan Axelrod Siegelwax is the Executive Vice President of Love & Quiches Gourmet, and the Founder and President of Powerful Possibilities Coaching. In her role at Love and Quiches Gourmet she leads the Human Resources Department with the primary goal of increasing employee engagement, accountability, retention and improved corporate culture. Through creation of Powerful Possibilities Coaching, she has made these skills available to a larger audience through Transformational Executive Coaching, specializing in personal growth, organizational development, career coaching, leadership development, managing transitions, executive presence, personal branding, personal empowerment, life balance, organization and productivity.