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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith Twin Cities

If you’re like many people I know, you’re feeling a bit worn out and beat down. Maybe you’re feeling isolated or overwhelmed by work or life commitments. Maybe you’re sick and tired of cold weather. Or maybe you’re simply weary from the long pandemic and the unusual route our lives have taken over the past year. Whatever the case, now is the time to turn inward for a time and work on building up your resilience.

Building resilience takes time and effort. It’s an ongoing process–something you’ll have to chip away at throughout your life. But the effort is worth it. Your resilience will help you weather life’s storms and prepare you to overcome the everyday annoyances (flat tires, illnesses, burnt dinners, missed deadlines) that we often encounter.

How can you build your resilience and strengthen your mental fortitude? Try one or a few of these four methods:

1. Imagine yourself on the other side

If you’re staring down a particularly troubling problem OR even if you’re feeling less than your best, try thinking about the future. Take a few minutes to sit quietly and imagine life AFTER you’ve overcome your problems. How do you feel? What does life look like? What are you doing?

Thinking about a bright future does two things:

1) It opens you to the possibility that things CAN and WILL get better. This puts you in a better place, mentally and emotionally.

2) It gets you into problem-solving mode. Instead of dwelling on your current woes, you’ll be thinking ahead, which can help you begin to brainstorm how to get to your desired state.

2. Pay attention to your thoughts

You are what you think. If you’re constantly down on yourself, pessimistic, and hopeless, those thoughts will become reality. Thoughts are powerful. They frame our entire existence and carry us from day to day. If you are constantly thinking you can’t do something, you probably won’t do it. It’s really that simple.

Start paying attention to what goes through your mind. If you catch yourself thinking negatively about something, pause and take a step back. How can you reframe that thought? What narrative can you tell yourself instead? What silver lining or bit of hope can you focus on instead of negative aspects? Tuning in and challenging your pessimistic thoughts can set you up to be more resilient and able to roll with the punches.

For more advice on overcoming negative self-talk, please CLICK to read my past blog post on the subject.

3. Practice good self-care

When you’re feeling downtrodden, it could be that you simply need to take some meaningful time for yourself to rejuvenate and reinvigorate. Taking a break (even a short one) can renew your confidence, energize you, and prepare you to face the challenges that lie ahead. If you’d like a few self-care ideas, click HERE.

4. Reach out to others

You don’t have to build resilience on your own. In fact, it’s healthy to reach out to others when you’re feeling low and lean on them for a little support. Seek out those who are caring and compassionate, good listeners, and empathetic. At times, all you really need is a listening ear–someone to help you process difficult moments. Of course, it’s not fair to take, take, take and never give back. Be there for others when they need you, too. The best relationships are reciprocal, and chances are, you’ll find satisfaction in helping others on their journeys as well.

It’s best to reach out to multiple people (or even support groups or a counselor), so you’re not fully reliant on one person. This can be your web–a network of individuals who can catch you when you fall and help you bounce back.

You ARE a resilient person and you CAN make it through difficult times. Make a concerted effort to practice self-reflection, take good care of yourself, and reach out to others when you need a little extra support. You’ve got this.


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Is it possible to train yourself to be adaptable?

While some people seem to have a natural ability to roll with the punches, almost everyone can train themselves to be more flexible. It just takes a little practice and dedication.

Why work on your personal adaptability?

The short answer:

Change is inevitable. You’re going to encounter change in all aspects of your life at some point or another—professional, interpersonal, and personal. So, why not be prepared?

The longer answer:

Lately, with workplaces adapting to a global pandemic, remote classroom learning, and working from home becoming the new norm, things are quite different than they used to be. All those changes have necessitated a good deal of flexibility, and I don’t see that going away anytime soon. This is new turf for many people (and companies). Parents are learning how to juggle work with their children’s distance learning. Managers are learning how to effectively interact with their teams when regular face-to-face meetings are no longer an option. Companies are figuring out how to create personalized experiences for customers through online platforms and other creative means.

Even when the current pandemic is nothing more than a memory, we are bound to encounter major changes again soon. Technology is changing at a rapid clip, public sentiments are constantly shifting, and societal norms are in constant flux. If there’s one thing you can count on in the future, it’s change.

So, how do you train yourself to adapt?

1. Challenge yourself every day

Routine is good, but it’s also healthy to break that routine every once in a while. Commit to doing one thing every day that is slightly uncomfortable for you. Maybe that means working in a new location—perhaps somewhere in your house where you don’t have a complete office setup. Maybe that means calling someone that you don’t know well (a potential client, perhaps) or someone whom you’ve been putting off calling, for whatever reason. Another way to challenge yourself is by learning a new skill. Take an online course or download an app to help you learn anything from film-making to Excel to a new language.

2. Practice letting go

A big part of becoming more adaptable is realizing that you do not have control over everything, and THAT IS OKAY. In fact, it’s good to rescind control every once in a while and let others (or circumstances) take the reins. If you find yourself in a position where you are no longer in the driver’s seat, take a deep breath and a step back. Trust that things will work out without your intervention.

To train yourself to become better at letting go, practice giving others assignments and letting them have autonomy over their projects. If you lead a team, let that team hold brainstorming or strategy sessions without you and trust that they will achieve results. They may not take the exact path you would have taken, but they will likely reach the same destination.

3. Open your mind

Mental flexibility is crucial when it comes to adaptability. It’s healthy to open yourself to a variety of perspectives and points of view, because (surprise!) you may not have all the answers. To increase your mental agility, try practicing active listening. Truly absorb and listen to what others are saying and challenge yourself to ask good questions. After the conversation, try repeating the information you learned to yourself.

Another part of mental flexibility is realizing that there is not usually one way to do things or one way of thinking about things. This realization requires a certain amount of humility. It also takes a curious mind and a willingness to learn. Be a little vulnerable and demonstrate that you are ready and eager to learn and expand your way of doing things.

Adaptability is a critical skill to have today, and it’s bound to be a critical skill tomorrow too. Even if you’re not flexible by nature, you can endeavor to train yourself to be a little more flexible. All it takes is a plan and your commitment.


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orange shoes walking up stairs

This past year, it’s been difficult to feel in control of anything. Work situations have changed, family dynamics have been altered, and our basic lifestyles have had to adjust. We’ve had to rethink even our most basic activities, such as going to the grocery store or sending our kids off to school. With so much out of our control, let’s take a moment to focus on what is within our control…namely, YOU.

No matter what the year ahead will bring, we can always focus on self-improvement. This way of thinking is not selfish—it’s essential. If we do our best to be our best, everything around us tends to improve: relationships, workplace interactions, productivity. Thus, self-improvement can (and often does) actually lead to vast improvements in our external world.

Where can you focus your attention?

Here are five different ideas. Over the next five weeks, I’ll be covering each area in greater depth. For now, a summary:

1. Improve Self-Awareness

You may think you know yourself fairly well, but we all have blind spots. Digging deep into your strengths, communication preferences, modes for interacting with others, areas where you’re struggling, etc. can help you become more confident, productive, and efficient. Not only that, improving your self-awareness can also help you better tune in to the needs and preferences of others.

Begin your self-awareness journey by taking a recommended assessment test (my favorites are Insights Discovery® and Insights Deeper Discovery®), talking with a career coach, reading books that discuss self-awareness, or simply making a concerted effort to pay attention to your thoughts and actions, and the motives behind them.

2. Own Who You Are

As our work patterns and lives have changed, other sides of ourselves may have emerged. Perhaps you’ve surprised yourself with how you’ve adapted to this year’s many changes . Maybe you’ve found that you enjoy working at home or, on the flip side, maybe you’ve realized that you enjoy the company of co-workers more than you realized!

Regardless of how much you have or have not changed over the past year, one thing is certain: You are multi-faceted, and it’s a good idea to learn to embrace all sides of yourself. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve in certain areas (there’s always room for improvement). What it does mean is that you shouldn’t shy away from your true self—the person at the core of your being.

3. Practice Self-Kindness

You likely have a lot of practice in forgiving others for their mistakes. If someone is late for a Zoom meeting or has to bow out of a commitment, we tend to forgive them and move on. If a friend is struggling to keep their house clean because they simply have too much on their plate, we laugh and say, “That’s okay! I understand.”

Are you as forgiving with yourself? Or do you beat yourself up over the little things? It’s time to be kind to yourself. Forgive your small mistakes, take breaks when you need them, and don’t worry about falling short of perfection. 

4. Get Flexible

No, I’m not talking about stretching and doing more yoga (though, that couldn’t hurt!). This year, we’ve all had to stretch outside our comfort zones, and I see no sign of that stopping. Workplaces will continue to adapt, relationships will evolve, and technology will constantly change. Are you ready?

The more willing you are to be adaptable and roll with the punches, the better off you’ll be. No one can predict what’s next, but one thing is certain: Change is inevitable. To get yourself comfortable with change, practice putting yourself in new, uncertain situations. Challenge yourself and make a concerted effort to grow. This might entail signing up for an online class, attending a virtual webinar with a group of strangers, or taking on a project that will have to stretch your skillset.

5. Improve Communication

One of the great lessons of this past year is that communication is essential. For many of us, we’ve had to greatly alter the way we interact with others. Instead of popping into a nearby cubicle and asking a question, we have to set up meetings or write emails. Instead of dropping by a friend or neighbor’s house, we’ve had to be intentional with our get-togethers and respectful of boundaries.

But how much have you actually thought about the ways and methods of your communication? Are your communication systems working like a charm? Or, could they be improved?

It’s possible all those video chats aren’t necessary. It’s also possible (probable, really) that some people will prefer one style of communication, while others will prefer an entirely different style. It helps to pay attention. When is communication flowing smoothly and the conversation is bearing fruit? And when does it feel forced and counter-productive? It could be time to rethink the frequency and modes of communication between yourself and others.

Let’s start the new year off right. Take the time to focus on improving yourself, your interactions with others, and your adaptability. Even small changes can make an enormous difference.


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