In studies of schoolchildren that link inborn tendencies to future “success” (i.e. good grades and satisfying jobs), researchers have determined that many factors combine to support positive outcomes in school and in life. Intelligence helps, as does social aptitude, patience, and situational awareness.
But the more often these tests are conducted, the more the spotlight seems to shine on one trait that stands out above all the others. This trait seems to support success regardless of all other identifiable personal strengths, including math skills, reading skills, general problem-solving skills, social skills and even family financial status.
Resilience, or “grit,” seems to be the key factor that follows any group of randomly selected students through life and marks those who are mostly likely to overcome obstacles and attain their desired goals. So what does resilience look like? And how can a person build and strengthen this trait?
First, the actual definition of resilience: The property of a material that allows it to regain its shape after being stressed or bent. In human terms, reliance describes a person’s ability to return to his or her original state after change, misfortune, or disappointment. A resilient person is buoyant, and their state of mind doesn’t permanently or materially change after a challenge tests them or knocks them down.
2. Building resilience
Is it possible to build daily habits that elevate our natural levels of resilience? The answer appears to be yes. Consider the resilience-building exercises below. As you work these moves into your daily routine, pay close attention to how quickly you recover from negative events and watch how this recovery time shifts and shortens.
3. Physically challenge yourself.
Most of us don’t actually know the full capabilities of our own bodies. And chances are, your strength, your endurance, the range of motion in your arms and legs, and your pain tolerance are all greater than you realize. But you won’t actually know what these surprising limits are until you test them. Try to determine where the boundary of your physical comfort zone lies, then approach that boundary and cross it. If you don’t know how to do this on your own, take a class. (Choose the sport, martial art, dance, or outdoor activity that interests you the most.)
4. Challenge your fears.
Just like our physical boundaries, our fear boundaries are largely a state of mind. And when we put them to the test, we realize they don’t have as much power over us as we may assume. What scares you? Public speaking? Social confrontation? Skydiving? Solitude? Spiders? Find your line, step up to it, and cross it. Then stop and think about how you feel. Chances are, your ability to recover after the wave of terror passes will astonish you.
5. Challenge your mental boundaries.
You don’t know everything. Even in the subject area you’ve studied more than any other, there are volumes of information that haven’t yet made their way to you. Face what you don’t know, become overwhelmed, and see how long it takes you to find your feet. Ideally, we should all be taking this step every single day.
6. Remember that resilience does not equal pig-headedness.
When negative events knock us off course, simply ignoring the events and jumping back in exactly where we left off with exactly the same approaches to our goals will probably result in a repetition of those negative events. Real grit means figuring out what went wrong, getting up, and taking another swing from another direction—but quickly.
7. Keep growing and don’t settle
In order to develop your resilience on a daily basis, it helps to have a job that challenges your limits. Find a field you love, gain the credentials you need, and start searching for open positions. When you’re ready to apply, use MyPerfectResume’s resume builder to show potential employers that you’re ready to handle whatever comes your way.