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You’re probably thinking about resilience the wrong way. Here’s a better approach

I’m not a psychologist or a doctor. But having faced numerous setbacks myself and having coached hundreds of sales executives and professionals who often face setbacks daily, I’ve identified a very simple yet effective process to help us bounce back when the unexpected occurs.

You’re probably thinking about resilience the wrong way. Here’s a better approach
[Photo: Samuel-Elias Nadler/Unsplash]

We’ve all faced unexpected setbacks, had our plans derailed or hard sought goals snuffed out.

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It could be running out of gas on the way to a job interview, loss of an important relationship (with little warning), or loss of a job.

These are just a few of the setbacks I’ve faced personally, but I’d consider myself fortunate as these are somewhat minor.

To be upfront, I’m not a psychologist or a doctor. But having faced numerous setbacks myself and having coached hundreds of sales executives and professionals who often face setbacks daily, I’ve identified a very simple yet effective process to help us bounce back when the unexpected occurs.

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When we create a process for bouncing back, we strengthen our ability to handle unexpected situations in the future. It’s like developing our own personalized formula for overcoming what might once have seemed like insurmountable obstacles.

To be clear, the bounce-back formula, as I refer to it, is not resilience. Rather it’s a means to build your resilience.

The American Psychological Association calls resilience “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress.” They also note that being resilient doesn’t mean that a person won’t experience difficulty or distress.

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That’s why I focus on developing a “bounce back” formula. Our goal must be to minimize any distress that arises from adversity, and—to the extent possible—limit its impact on us. That’s because the longer we face difficulty, the more immobilizing it can be. Instead, we need to act to quickly move us in a new direction.

There are three steps to the bounce-back formula.

Counter emotions with logic

The emotions that we associate with a difficult or distressful situation are what can make us feel like not moving forward. That’s why logic is so important.

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For example, if you were to be told your job had been eliminated, the feelings of surprise, concern, and anger would likely all set in. We can counter these emotions by asking ourselves some logical questions like, are there other job opportunities? (There are.) Can we learn new skills? (We can.)

Countering emotions with logical questions helps us to fully understand the situation at hand and, more importantly, develop a plan to move forward.

Develop a plan

As you ask yourself logical questions, you’ll typically gain some ideas about what you can do to move forward. Use these insights, which will be based on logic and reason, to document your next steps.

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Sitting and pondering what to do only leads to procrastination and worry. When we quickly formulate a plan to give ourselves a path forward and a new direction, we limit our negative emotions replacing them with feelings of hope and encouragement. Let these new emotions fuel your momentum.

Take action

Having a plan is great, and in the short term, it can relieve some stress and anxiety. However, if we don’t experience a change in our situation, the worry and stress can return, quickly.

For this reason, we need to take at least one step in our plan to move in the new desired direction. Using the earlier example of losing your job, the first step you could take might include:

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  • Call a past colleague and ask if they know any companies that are hiring.
  • Call a past boss and ask if they know anyone who is looking for someone with your skills.
  • Reach out to a local college to inquire about online courses to upgrade (or change) your skills.

There is no right or wrong action to take if the plan is based on logic. The key, however, is to ensure your plan is actionable. For example, if my plan was to launch a multimillion-dollar business after losing my job, I might consider (logically) finding a job in the interim to fund my expenses while I build the business.

Aside from the renewed hope and encouragement gained from taking action towards your desired future, there are other benefits you’ll achieve:

  • You’ll begin to see that your new path forward is possible.
  • You’ll open up new options, which will be inspiring.
  • You’ll avoid feelings of helplessness as you take control of the situation.

The key to remember is that we’ve all encountered (and will continue to encounter) difficult situations.

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To bounce back and move forward, we need to apply logic, develop a plan, and act. The process of doing so will minimize our distress and worry and provide us with hope and encouragement to keep going.

Heraclitus once said, “Change is the only constant in life.” If that’s the case, then we owe it to ourselves to continue to take action to overcome our challenges and move us in a new, more desirable direction.


Shawn Casemore is a speaker and facilitator who works with entrepreneurs and business leaders to align their teams, “wow” their customers, and grow their businesses.

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