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Build resilience

Alice Boyes

Author Bio

May 16, 2024

The pandemic, demographic change and socio-economic have changed the way we think about work. For some the return to the office means “business as usual”, while for others there may be negative consequences that impact their career and wellbeing.

Some people flourish in adversity and remain highly engaged and motivated and while we can’t all do that, we can learn to manage change. When it comes to coping with uncertainty or challenging situations success comes down to resilience. This the ability to recover quickly from setbacks, to remain positive in the face of adversity and to keep things in perspective.

Resilient people maintain their performance under pressure. Contrary to popular belief, resilience is not an innate quality, it can, in fact, be learned and developed.

As yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I respond to a challenge with confidence, optimism and flexibility?
  2. Can I articulate what matters to me in life and what I hope to achieve?
  3. Do I keep in touch with friends even when the pressure is high, do I reach out when I need support?

If you can answer “yes” to these questions then very likely you are a resilient person. That said, resilience has different elements, they include: confidence, purposefulness, adaptability and social support. These have an impact on the extent to which a person copes with uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility.


Confidence is about both social confidence and confidence in your ability. It is important because it affects your belief in your ability to cope with a given situation or setback.


Purposefulness refers to your drive and goal orientation; it affects how persistent you are in challenging situations and where there is a lot of pressure.


Adaptability centres on a preference for the familiar or for change – as change is what often tests our resilience the most. Those who are adaptable are less likely to feel strain in situations where they have little control, so it is a useful quality in environments where there is a high degree of volatility.

Social support

Social support refers to personal preferences for building good relationships with others and choosing to call on them when support is needed.

Setbacks, disappointments, challenges and change can drain your motivation and engagement. Developing a resilient mindset will enable you to cope with such situations more effectively, allowing you to face the future with confidence.

In terms of developing personal resilience, the challenge is to find an environment where you can explore the skills that create a resilient response, and the time and space to develop such skills.

Practical techniques that can help you build resilience in the face of change

  • Accept that there are things that you can change and others that you cannot. Focus energy on the situations that you can influence and worry less about those that you cannot.
  • Cultivate an optimistic mindset. Being hopeful about the future enables you to find the positive aspects of circumstances that you may find yourself in.
  • Move on quickly from setbacks. There will be disappointments along the way but don’t let them undermine your resilience.
  • Celebrate successes. Resilient people are self-aware about the skills and traits that underlie their successes, don’t under-estimate yourself.
  • Maintain perspective. Too narrow a focus on short-term goals may mean you lose sight of the big picture and that can restrict opportunities.
  • Take a risk. Yes, the unknown is scary and change is hard but finding the opportunity in a challenge increases your ability to cope as you master change or difficult situations and develop new skills that can be used in the future.
  • Know your values. This is invaluable in the face of uncertainty as it provides perspective and helps you to clarify priorities and make decisions even with incomplete information.
  • Play to your strengths. Remember that as well as specialist skills and expertise you have developed many “soft” skills – such as influencing, teamwork or decision-making under pressure – which are transferable.
  • Take responsibility for your career. Engage in productive career discussions with your manager and actively seek to manage your career path and development. Clarity about your options will allow you to make informed choices and plan for the future.
  • Network. Resilient people nurture their relationships as a matter of course. Good relationships with colleagues, friends and family afford you reassurance, feedback and perspective, especially when times are tough.


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