How Resilient Are You?

Julie Bawden-Davis

During a conversation with a friend we discussed the secret to living a successful life, and we came up with one word—resilience. Everyone has challenges and failures, but it’s those who bounce back with a determined smile on their face who succeed.

The interesting thing about this realization is that it’s a discovery that comes with age. If you’d asked me years ago what were the keys to success, I’d readily tell you creativity, talent and a dash of good luck. In hindsight, although those elements are helpful, they’re nothing without the ability to rebound from life’s inevitable setbacks.

So what are the various attributes that lead to resilience and ultimately success? Here are five traits that resilient people possess.

1. Adaptability

The life you lead today will not be the same five, three or even one year from now. The best way to go about embracing change is to repeat this mantra: It’s not if things change, it’s when. Stay on your toes and embrace change when it comes, and you may even sidestep some of life’s setbacks.

2. Cautious Optimism

It may sound cliché, but the glass half-full perspective can give you a stainless steel coating of resilience. When you look at reality in the best possible light and focus on the positives, you avoid falling into the bad brew of pessimism that prevents you from solving difficult problems and making effective changes. Your optimism should be tempered with realism, however. You’re not wearing rose-colored glasses, but rather, you’re wearing bifocals that allow you to see all aspects of a situation.

3. Clear Sense of Purpose

Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you stay focused and on track when the tough times hit. Rather than panicking when things go awry, concentrate on what you’re trying to accomplish in your life. This will help make your next steps clear.

4. Ability to Take One Day at a Time

Resilient people know that constantly playing the “what if” game and worrying about the future are only going to make them so nervous and distracted that they falter and fail. Although planning ahead is good, concentrate your energy and focus on today, which has plenty of its own troubles. By tackling the problem du jour, you’ll be ready for whatever tomorrow brings.

5. Adventurous Spirit

When things go wrong in life, as they inevitably will, it’s those who think of the challenges as exciting opportunities to learn and grow who fare the best. If you have the courage to stay the course on the rocky road of trouble, you’ll find that the journey ultimately leads to immeasurable growth and priceless wisdom.

Change and challenges in life are inevitable but you can develop an armor of resilience that can help guarantee you years of happiness and success.

Learn more about Resilience in Mid-Life and take the Resilience Quiz  developed by The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence and the MIT AgeLab.

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