Thought Leadership

7 Keys to Enhancing Resilience

By May 3, 2020 No Comments

Sherry Dutra

Dutra Associates, LLC
ProVisors, Merrimack Valley

Professional burnout is more common amongst lawyers than many would typically think, even in the best of times. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, lawyers are dealing with a wide range of challenges as they balance helping their clients with managing business operations and the economic impact on their firms. Never has resilience been more critical to overall well-being. There is no question that you will encounter situations in the coming days and weeks where the outcome isn’t quite what you expected or you’ll experience what you might view as a “failure”. To weather the inevitable challenges you’ll face, resilience will be a muscle you’ll want to enhance. Resilience will allow you to ride the roller coaster of this volatile and uncertain time and equip you, now and long after this crisis is over, to effectively make the impact you desire without burning out in the process.
What is Resilience?
The definition of resilience is, in part, “the ability to recover readily from adversity or the like; buoyancy”. The word buoyancy brought a childhood memory to mind. I grew up near the ocean and used to play for hours in Cape Cod Bay. I can remember tossing around a beach ball with my friends while we splashed in the water. No matter what any of us did to push that ball under the water, it always popped right back up to the surface – ready for the next game. Resilience is very much like that beach ball. No matter what you face, if your resilience is strong, you can stand back up, learn from your experience, reset your course, and be ready for what’s next.
7 Keys to Enhancing Resilience
Here are some practical keys that you can incorporate into your life that will support you in enhancing your resilience. These keys will not only positively impact your professional life but also your personal life. So what are you waiting for? Let’s explore.

  1. Stay aligned with your purpose: I believe that we all have a purpose and that discovering yours will keep you on track no matter what circumstances arise. What are you uniquely equipped to offer to the world?What brings you the most joy and passion? The answers to these questions will give you some clues to your purpose. With a defined purpose, that you are aligned with, you naturally attract people, resources, ideas, and opportunities that support you.
  2. Practice gratitude: Take a few moments each day, throughout the day, to appreciate and express gratitude for the people and things in your life. Stopping to notice what you are grateful for on a regular basis develops a habit of looking for good things and releases dopamine that supports a positive outlook.
  3. Set clear goals: Research has shown that the brain loves a good goal. It will work tirelessly to give you what you focus on. The most successful and resilient people set specific, measurable and time-based goals and consistently take action with the certainty that they will achieve them.
  4. Be present while working on those goals: A 2010 Harvard study found that people spend 47% of their waking time thinking about things other than what they are working on. When you are focused on the past or focused on the future, you are taking your energy away from what’s going on right in front of you. Mindfulness, or being focused on the moment, has been shown to modify brain processes that support resilience. And, experiencing and enjoying the moment is part of the journey.
  5. Act “as if”: Your brain doesn’t know the difference between a robust vision and reality. Don’t believe that? Then, take a moment and imagine that you have a beautiful, fragrant, juicy lemon in your hand. Cut off a slice of that lemon. Breathe in that lemony scent. Now, bring it to your mouth and take a great big bite. Salivating yet? You didn’t really just take a bite out of a lemon, did you? Yet, in creating that vision, your body reacted “as if” you had. So, start to take action in accordance with who you want to be. Act “as if” you already are being, doing and having whatever it is you want to create in your practice. Your attitude will be shifted to a more optimistic place and your resilience will build.
  6. Build a supportive team: Going it alone typically doesn’t work. Without the support of others, we tend to get stuck in doing things the way we’ve always done them. Create a community of supportive people from different backgrounds and professions who can help to keep your mind open to fresh perspectives and new ideas. Having others to lean on creates resilience-building social support.
  7. Look for the gift: What is the opportunity in the situation you’re facing? What might the situation be trying to show you? By focusing on the opportunity rather than the challenge, you open the door to solution-finding rather than problem-solving. You choose how you want to “show up” in the situation and your positive focus enhances your resilience.

There is no one formula for enhancing resilience. Find what works for you and practice it on a regular basis. Over time, you are likely to find that how you respond to the inevitable ups and downs is very much in your own hands.


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