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Using set-backs as a tool to build resilience.

Resilience is about how flexible your approach is to achieving your goal.

Resilience is about how flexible your approach is to achieving your goal.

“That was not on my list”. I mentally chided myself as I closed the news page and got back to work. 

Whether we realise it or not we all have little plans in place throughout the day, this is why we get so annoyed when things don’t go as we expect them to. Have you ever felt annoyed that something came up and ruined your day? That was because you had subconsciously planned to do other things, or at least hadn’t planned for that situation or event to take place.

A while ago I gave up on planning as I was experiencing a few more setbacks than I’d have liked and it was wreaking havoc on my plans. I reasoned that it was better to just have no plan if things were just going to keep getting in the way and that meant I couldn’t see my plans through. This led to me slowly giving up on a few goals and really didn’t do me, or my confidence much good.

As I look back, I’ve noticed that when I set my mind to do something, more often than not my tenacity kicks in and it gets done. Whether it’s paint a room or get to grips with managing my money. 

It’s more than just having a plan though, it’s about also having an intent, it’s deliberate and it’s a decision to do it regardless of set backs. (Set backs as in things that get in the way, not as in things that make it utterly impossible). 

Having a plan with intent demands focus, it demands that you are determined in your approach to fulfilling the purpose of your activity. It doesn’t mean that you are determined in achieving the goal at all costs in a specific way. Allow me to elaborate.

Say you have a busy day planned but only get a small amount of interrupted sleep. You might wake up feeling dismayed because you feel there’s no way you can get through the big day you had planned on such bad sleep. The first thing you need to do is challenge yourself not to feel negative about it, as this only uses up energy and gets you nowhere. Begin by seeing it as an opportunity to get creative about how you will tackle the day ahead and still achieve your purpose you’ve set for yourself.

What does sleep actually do for us, it helps us heal and have energy. Think about how else you might support yourself in healing and having energy, making sure your nutrition and water intake is as good as it can be would be a great start. Sleep helps us to have an even mood too, so take into account that you might like to balance out your mood and compensate for any potential irritability by planning in a few small nice things so your mood is taken care of.

Let’s be real, having sleep is not something you can completely compensate for else we would probably have it in pill form by now! Rest is very important, but sleep isn’t the only way to get it. If you can plan to have a few naps evenly placed throughout the day, even five minutes laying down can make a massive difference to balancing your energy.

Another consideration of not getting enough sleep is stress levels are likely to be a bit higher as your body will want to compensate for not getting enough shut-eye. The bad news is that stress can sap our precious energy so try to keep as calm as you can. The good news is meditation can really help to reduce stress and help you feel more awake. So take a few deep breaths, put on a mediation app and try to stay relaxed. (Headspace is a great one and has sessions as short as five or even three minutes!)

Can you see with the example used here of planning to have enough sleep to tackle a big day ahead not going to plan but finding a work around instead you can build your resilience? Instead of ending the day feeling defeated, you’ll finish on a high because you’ve taken control of something by bringing flexibility to your plan. You’ve still accomplished a lot during your day with little sleep, but you’ve done it with a positive frame of mind feeling in control and with the added win of overcoming an obstacle that might have previously set you off course. Well done you! What other areas might you be able to apply this type of flexibility to in order to build your own resilience?

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