What does it mean to be resilient? Are we born with resilience? Or is it something you work on building over time?
Someone asked me on a podcast I did recently ‘what does resilience mean to you?
It’s a really thought-provoking question and for me – resilience is about staying strong in the face of adversity.
It’s about adapting, bouncing back and finding the positives in challenging or demanding situations. It’s about never giving up and holding onto the hope and belief that things can and will get easier. This is especially important when going through the transition from employee to business owner…the need to building a resilient mindset.
Where does resilience come from and are we born with it?
The fact of the matter is, people are not born resilient. It’s something we each build upon through the experiences we have in our everyday lives.
This can range from experiences at school and dealing with the playground bully, to dealing with demanding work environments and bosses. Each experience gives us a new way of handling difficult situations and enables us to find new coping mechanisms and therefore builds our resilience levels.
This is particularly useful as an entrepreneur/business owner as you don’t have the safety net of a regular monthly income and a boss that will guide you. Your resilience is your strength and will support you through the ups and downs as you navigate your way into building a successful business.
You can learn to be resilient through life events you experience. It’s a choice; you can consciously learn how building a resilient mindset will benefit you when times get tough by having a growth mindset. Much like screwing the 9 to 5 to set up your own business is a choice.
Or you can choose to complain about your lot and be all ‘woe betide me’ by having a fixed mindset where you believe your fate is already mapped out and there is nothing you can do to change it.
People are resilient in different ways and use different coping mechanisms. For example, I’ll use humor to deflect pain because I believe it’s better to laugh than cry, although trust me I do love a good cry. I find it let’s all the painful shit out and allows you to see things from a new perspective!
So now we know what resilience is and that we weren’t born with it, but in fact, we build on it through our life experiences, let’s explore some of the ways to ‘act’ resilient.
1. Ask for help instead of going it alone
You might be surprised by this one but it’s really important to ‘ask for help’. You see, being resilient isn’t about trying to prove to yourself or others that you’re super-tough and can go it alone. It’s about finding ways to cope in challenging situations and circumstances and one of the best ways to do that is to ask for help.
As an aspiring business owner, asking for help is a huge one! Whether that’s connecting with other entrepreneurs at networking events and learning from them or using Facebook or LinkedIn groups to ask for help. I’ve done both over the course of my career, and you’d be surprised how many people genuinely want to help you and how much of a difference it makes. It builds up a support network of like-minded people.
‘You don’t have to do it all by yourself’
Asking for help has commonly been misconceived as a sign of weakness when it’s actually a sign of strength. It’s OK to not be OK and to ask others for help. I’ve certainly learned that over the years and following a rather nasty accident back in 2017, I had no choice but to ask for help.
It was surprisingly very liberating and helped me get through a particularly challenging time in my life. I was amazed by the support I received and realized I wasn’t alone. My friends and family members had my back. Fellow business owners, aspiring and established, supported me. I didn’t need to struggle on my own. I choose to let go of any feelings of ‘woe betide me’ and instead got into action and got shit done!
Asking for help made me feel good, it gave me the strength and the belief that everything would be OK, that I wasn’t alone and that I would make it through the tough times. The thing is, many of us have been taught to believe that we have to deal with our problems on our own, so when it comes to asking for help, we risk feeling vulnerable and weak. It can feel like we are burdening others and we feel guilty and not worthy of receiving help. In fact, asking for help and showing your vulnerabilities is a sign of emotional strength and resilience.
2. Practice gratitude and focus on what you DO have
Having a daily gratitude practice is an amazing way to build your resilience and to focus on what you do have. It shifts your thinking from the negative thoughts of what you don’t have to being grateful for what you do have.
When you shift your thinking, you shift the way you feel. The more positive and optimistic you are the easier it is to deal with unexpected challenges and difficulties.
‘People are more familiar with and focused on the obstacles holding them back instead of the resources enabling them to succeed’
As part of my morning routine, I write in my beautiful mermaid journal three things that I am grateful for. Just by doing this it helps me take my mind off the things that I’m finding difficult and it helps build strength in me as I’m focused on the things that make me happy, that light me up.
Here are three things I’m grateful for today:
1. I’m grateful for cuddles with my beautiful fluffy cat this morning and how he made me smile as he stretched out in my arms as I gently stroked his chin
2. I’m grateful for being able to help my new client with her self-care routine
3. I’m grateful for the healthy food in my fridge, which keeps me nourished and fed
You can also send your gratitude list to a fellow business buddy each day for extra accountability and ask them to share theirs in return. Sharing your gratitude list with a fellow business owner or aspiring entrepreneur like yourself can be rewarding as you’ll see what they’re grateful for too. This can give you hope and build on the resilience you have around building your business, knowing that you are not alone.
The benefits of having a gratitude practice are wide and varied and can include:
●︎ Better sleep quality
●︎ Fewer visits to the doctors (who doesn’t want that)
●︎ Less depressive symptoms
●︎ Improved relationships
●︎ More empathy towards others and less anger/aggression
●︎ Better self-esteem
●︎ Increased mental strength and resilience
It’s easy to start a gratitude practice. Just identify 3 things, people or circumstances each day that you are grateful for and find a quiet five minutes to note these down. If you’re a stationery freak like me, you might like to buy yourself a beautiful journal.
3. Know it’s just for now, not forever
Knowing that ‘it is just for now, not forever’ is a great way to maintain and build resilience. Nothing lasts forever. Just focus on getting through each day and visualize the future you want to have. This is particularly useful if you’re still stuck in the nine to five and have a dream and desire to set up your own business. By visualizing how your future business will look it will change how you feel in the moment, creating more optimism and hope.
You see, the brain doesn’t know the difference between imagination and reality so by regularly visualizing the future you want you are effectively remapping your neural pathways. When you visualize your future, really get into how you’re feeling. What do you see, hear and feel? How are you standing? What emotions are you feeling? What are you saying and to who? How much money is in your bank account?
If you were to wave a magic wand and money, time, resources were no obstacle what would your perfect life look like?
4. Create a morning routine to set yourself up for the day
Starting your day off the right way sets the tone for the rest of the day and you’d better be able to handle what might be coming your way; good or bad.
Imagine waking up feeling tired, rushed and frustrated as you leg it out the front door with a piece of toast in your mouth. How would your day look different if you created a short morning routine to get you prepared for the day?
One of the benefits of having a morning routine is that it reduces your stress and therefore increases your ability to cope. I can’t tell you how important this is when you are building a business and wearing so many different hats, from accountant to IT specialist. You’re always learning something new so finding ways to cope better with challenges that come your way is crucial.
So, what can you include in your morning routine to set yourself up for your best day yet? Let me share with you the things that I do (or have done) as part of my morning routine.
Meditation – This is a great way to start the day and is best done first thing in the morning or before you fall asleep as you’re in the receptive theta brainwave state. Meditation helps with your concentration, reduces stress, lowers your blood pressure and improves your sleep. Perfect for any business owner, helping them start their day with increased productivity.
Exercise – Have you noticed how cats have a good stretch after they’ve had a long sleep? It’s exactly the same for humans. After a long sleep, we need to stretch our bodies to get the most from them and the best way to do that is through some form of exercise, ideally out in nature and in the fresh air.
Also, doing outside exercise has the benefit of taking you out of your work environment and away from the triggers which stress you. This is particularly important if you work from home on your own and the only person that you see is the postman! It’s good to interact with others throughout the day to keep your insanity at bay.
Reading – I personally love curling up in the morning or before bed and finding time to read and ‘exercise’ my brain. I read a lot of self-development books, so I am always continuing my journey of growth and finding new ways to live and be. Reading can be very relaxing and you’re teaching your brain new things too.
If you’re new to entrepreneurship I recommend you read as many books as you can on the subject including books on building a resilient mindset and how the brain works. A couple of suggestions to get you started are The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters and You Are A Badass At Making Money by Jen Sincero. I’ve listened to her book twice so far – it’s an absolute winner!
Hopefully, you can now start to see the benefits of a morning routine and how it can help you start the day off on the right foot.
5. Become aware of your feelings and accept them in the moment
Last but not least when you become more aware of your emotions and let go of how you are feeling in that moment, so much can change.
There is a lot online about the benefits of mindfulness and being mindful of the present moment. We are so consumed by social media with our faces glued to our devices that we forget to notice what is happening around us. Instead, we fall into overwhelm by what feels like endless notifications and demands on our time. A great way to reset your mind, body, and spirit and increase your resilience is to step away from the daily demands on your time.
A great practice is just to sit for ten minutes, focus on your breath and just accept the thoughts that come into your head and then release them. It’s good to sit still and notice what is happening in your mind.
As a new business owner, it’s quite common to spend a lot of time on social media establishing yourself, especially if you don’t yet have the budget to outsource. Having mini ‘social media breaks’ throughout your day to practice mindfulness can be really useful. Put your phone on silent and turn off notifications and just sit and breathe. Take the time to notice your breath and how you are feeling in your body.
The social media can wait. No one is going to die if you don’t check, post or comment every 30 minutes. In fact, you’ll be more productive if you take time out of your day for some breaks.
So how resilient are you feeling now?
Hopefully, you’ve now got a better understanding of what resilience is and know the importance of building a resilient mindset as you either transition into your own business or build on what you’ve already established. Not everything here will be right for you so feel free to just pick and choose what works best for you.