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Can resilience help you achieve greater career success?

Ruth Wootton, Momentwm Consulting Ltd
April 22, 2021

More than training or experience, being able to draw upon resilience in the face of challenge, turbulence and change will play a crucial role in determining how successful we are in our careers. Developing career resilience and using that resilience to meet the challenges we face as we navigate our career journey has become one of the defining factor of career success.  

Career resilience is the capacity to adapt to change, bounce back from disruption, learn from experiences and continually seek opportunities to move forward towards your career goals. It’s not a single skill; it’s a range of skills and attitudes that come together to influence and direct our thoughts, behaviours and actions.

The good news is that you can learn to develop and strengthen your career resilience which in turn will enable you to survive and thrive during the most tumultuous of times; it will bring new power, focus and energy to your career journey and ultimately set you up to achieve your career ambitions.

There are four key drivers or “gears” that can help frame our thinking when we are seeking to develop, maintain or enhance career resilience:

Clarity

Clarity is about having a deeper comprehension of what it is that is truly important to you in your work. It’s about knowing and holding on to your personal values, finding ways in which to deploy your strengths and seeking a sense of purpose or meaning in the work that you choose to do.

We also have to remember that we won’t be successful in our careers if we neglect the other areas of our lives and so it’s important to consider our career desires as a part of our lives rather than as a separate entity. From the obvious work/life balance to the more complex choices we will have to make about our careers, clarity provides us with the information we need to make smart, informed decisions.

Pinpointing your real career desires can be surprisingly difficult and requires self-reflection, introspection and an understanding that those career desires will flex and change over the years as we navigate the inevitable bumps, twists and turns in both our professional and personal lives.

Curiosity

If career resilience is about adapting to change and bouncing back from setbacks then developing a mind-set of curiosity is essential in helping us imagine many possible alternatives. Curiosity signals a keen and active mind which brings with it a level of inquisitiveness that opens us up to new experiences and new ideas, to meeting new people and learning new things. Adopting a mind-set of curiosity encourages us to explore both the obvious and less obvious possibilities; it enables us to spot the trends and to become more proactive in creating our own opportunities. By opening our eyes and looking more closely at the events and people around us we are able to better see the wealth of options out there available to us as well as imagine diverse and endless alternatives.

Curiosity is the fuel for personal growth, it helps us view our career through the lens of what is possible and become comfortable stretching our boundaries; it creates and maintains positive momentum and helps us ensure we are not held back or restricted by closed thinking.

Energy

A career isn’t something that we can change, fix or move forward overnight; it’s one that will last many years and will take frequent changes of direction. It can be really easy to become distracted as other things demand our time and attention and to become derailed if things don’t happen as quickly as we hope they might.

Maintaining and renewing our energy; enthusiasm and motivation requires its own focus if we are to maximise our personal effectiveness, grow personally and nurture relationships that will help further our careers. When we nurture the ability to exercise control over our emotions, behaviours and to focus our attention will are rewarded with a greater certainty of long term career success.

But it’s not just our mental energy that we need to be concerned about, physical energy levels are just as critical – we may not be able to increase the number of hours in a day or days in a week, but we can increase our energy and performance. When it comes to setting, implementing and achieving the individual steps that will move us forward to where we want to be energy management is the new time management.

Confidence

Lack of confidence can influence how you feel about your career; self-limiting beliefs can make you think that certain jobs or challenges are out of your reach when really they are not. Fear of change, feeling of failure and negative self-talk can all too easily hold us back.

Confidence is a state of mind; it’s about having belief in our self-worth and being brave enough to step outside of our comfort zone to overcome the things that are holding us back. The reality is that there will beany number of blockers or challenges that we will need to overcome when trying to make positive changes to our careers but if we are struggling with a lack of confidence in ourselves we are unlikely to succeed.

Understanding our own unique challenges and blockers is essential – the magic happens as we begin to experiment and try different approaches and realise that the benefits of trying far outweigh the fear of failure or ridicule.

These are strange times from a work and career perspective, our human brains dislike ambiguity yet we find ourselves in a constant state of flux and uncertainty. Career resilience brings security in a constantly changing world but it’s a muscle that we need to exercise regularly, not just when the chips are down. By building and deploying your career resilience skills you begin to take charge of your career and put yourself in the best possible position to survive and thrive in your working life.

Whether you looking to excel in a current role, find yourself at a career crossroads, are feeling burned out or simply wish to refresh and refocus, now is the perfect time to take a step back and consider how to develop and harness your resilience to achieve greater career success. It’s your life; it’s your career and the surest way to achieve success is to invest in yourself.

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