Build Your Problem-Solving Skills: Being a good problem-solver can help you navigate challenges more effectively. You can practice problem-solving by breaking down complex issues into smaller parts, brainstorming possible solutions, and testing different approaches to see what works best.
Resilience has been described as the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back from difficult life events. Times are not easy now. How do we develop greater resilience to withstand the challenges that keep being thrown at us? In this interview series, we are talking to mental health experts, authors, resilience experts, coaches, and business leaders who can talk about how we can develop greater resilience to improve our lives.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Jim.
Jennifer Jim is a Mental Wellness Health Coach, Psychotherapist, and Wellness Speaker. She’s actively making the foundational skills of mental wellness available to professionals. Her signature coaching methodology will teach you how to be energized, a stress rebel, and a decision-making rockstar. Read on to see what she has to share on Rising Through Resilience.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My journey has had many twists and turns but ultimately always focused on helping others and problem-solving. After working in breast cancer research, I loved giving tours to donors and survivors and talking to them about the research. One survivor encouraged me to work with those with cancer diagnosis and recovery. Four years later, I became a mental health counselor with a Masters’s Degree in Education. I worked my way up to Clinical Director of an outpatient clinic in 2020, but eventually decided to make changes in my life. Now, I run a thriving Mental Wellness Coaching practice helping professional women regain their energy and love their life.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
My first job after graduating college was as a laboratory tech researching breast cancer and lymphoma. I felt that I had a good understanding of the scientific method but quickly realized there is a difference between book knowledge and application. I completed an experiment, a 3-day long process, and brought it to my lead investigator with a feeling of disappointment. The experiment had a “negative” result. Our hypothesis was the opposite, we believed that breast cancer cells would respond as lymphoma cells had done in previous research. Much to my surprise he said, “This is great!”. I was confused as I had a result that clearly showed the opposite of what I was trying to prove. He reiterated the point of a hypothesis is to make a defined guess. But the result actually doesn’t matter as long as it’s clear and consistent. So he told me to repeat the experience 100 more times. And if I kept getting the same result it would be worthy of publishing a paper.
That memory stands out as it was when I truly understood the concept of hypothesis. We were making a guess but weren’t attached to the outcome. Any outcome was information that helped us see if our hypothesis was accurate. The work I did for an entire year of proving our hypothesis wrong, really shaped how I approach decisions. It made it so much easier when I could view it as a hypothesis. I still use this and teach it to my clients.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Renew Coaching stands out as a mental wellness health company. So much focus, specifically in terms of prevention, is focused on our physical health. I wanted to give people tools for mental wellness earlier on in their journeys.
Here’s the origin story of my business:
I had been a mental health therapist for 15 years and I repeatedly got asked,“Why has no one taught me this before?” as we discussed struggles and strategies. I didn’t have an answer and it made my blood boil that so many people had never been taught how to set healthy boundaries to get their needs met so they feel energized or how to name emotions and allow them to flow through without spiraling. Maybe you’ve had this thought too that if you’d only been given tools earlier stress wouldn’t feel so overwhelming. The only answer I have is that the mental health system is reactive, not preventative. (And frankly, there’s a part of me that believes that’s on purpose given insurance is for profit.)
What I wanted was to offer preventative care to women who were fatigued, exhausted, and running their departments and their homes blaming themselves that they weren’t enjoying life.
The problem was although I had tons of psychoeducation that could help women understand what they were experiencing, as a licensed therapist accepting insurance, I could only provide services if they met the criteria for a formal diagnosis. The mental health system is set up to be responsive to diagnosable mental health issues only.
I’ll never forget the day I had a casual conversation with my good friend’s neighbor. I’m standing in their living room and she’s describing her job as a Life Coach. It felt like a cartoon where the light bulb appears above someone’s head. I realized that I needed to create a new system for mental wellness. I wanted to start a business focused on prevention and education so that women could understand the source of their fatigue and how to remedy it quickly and easily before it led to burnout, depression, or anxiety.
I went home and wrote out a prevention plan for what I wanted to offer to all professional women running on empty. I was energized to find a way to make my desire a reality.
While I was ready to make this vision a reality, society was shutting down at the start of a pandemic, I had a young daughter at home and a huge responsibility at the non-profit clinic where I was a director to shift all services to remote. My vision got pushed to the back burner.
One day I decided that I was ready to bring this vision front and center again. I pulled out the notebook with my original business idea. I picked up where I left off. Time had gone by but my passion to support women with preventative mental wellness tools hadn’t, in fact, it had gotten stronger.
And today, I run a thriving Mental Wellness Coaching practice that helps professional women ditch the soul-crushing fatigue and take back their sweet, sweet ENERGY so that they can love the life they’ve built
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents who were incredibly supportive and encouraging. They always told me that I could do and be whatever I was inspired to be, no matter how big or unconventional my dreams were. Whenever I talked about my ambitions or interests, they listened attentively and showed genuine interest in my ideas. They never dismissed my goals as unrealistic or impossible, but instead, they offered me practical advice, guidance, and motivation to pursue them. Even when I faced setbacks or failures, my parents remained my biggest cheerleaders and encouraged me to learn from my mistakes and keep trying. Their unwavering support gave me the confidence and the courage to explore my passions, take risks, and overcome challenges. It also taught me the importance of believing in myself, valuing my own abilities, and pursuing what makes me happy. I am forever grateful for their love and guidance, and I strive to pass on their legacy of support and encouragement to others.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is the ability to overcome difficult situations, adversity, and stress by bouncing back and adapting to new circumstances. People who are resilient possess several traits and characteristics, including a curious outlook, a sense of purpose and direction, emotional self-regulation skills, a solid support network, and the ability to learn and grow from challenging experiences. They are also capable of taking action and solving problems during tough times while maintaining a hopeful and optimistic mindset for what lies ahead.
Courage is often likened to resilience. In your opinion how is courage both similar and different from resilience?
That’s a great question! To me, both courage and resilience are similar in that they both involve facing and overcoming difficult situations. Courage is the willingness to take action in the face of fear or adversity, while resilience is the ability to bounce back and adapt to new circumstances after a setback or challenge. In other words, courage is about taking action and facing fear head-on, while resilience is about persevering through adversity and coming out stronger on the other side.
However, there are also some differences between the two. Courage often involves taking risks and stepping outside of your comfort zone, while resilience is more about managing and recovering from the consequences of a difficult experience. Additionally, courage can be a one-time act or decision, while resilience is more of an ongoing process that requires sustained effort and commitment. Overall, I believe that both courage and resilience are important traits that can help us navigate life’s challenges and emerge stronger and more capable as a result.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Malala Yousafzai embodies resilience. She defied the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education and advocated for the right of girls to go to school. And even though she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, she survived the attack and continued to speak out for girls’ education. Malala’s resilience in the face of extreme adversity has inspired people all over the world, and she continues to be a powerful voice for social justice and equality.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Throughout my life, I’ve often encountered naysayers who criticized me for not following the traditional timeline of life. When I decided to go back to graduate school, move across the country solo, or have a baby at an advanced maternal age, I heard feedback from some people that what I wanted to do wasn’t wise. They warned me of the challenges and the risks that I might face, and some even suggested that I should reconsider my decisions. At first, I listened to them carefully and tried to understand their perspectives. But as I thought more deeply about what I really wanted and what was important to me, I realized that their concerns were not necessarily mine. The truth was that the concerns people shared with me were their own, shaped by their experiences, values, and expectations. I understood that their ideas and comfort level were very different from my own, and I had to make the decision that was right for me, regardless of what others might say. So I decided to pursue my dreams and ambitions, even if it meant taking a different path from what others expected. And you know what? They all turned out to be the best decisions I ever made. I learned to trust my own instincts and to take risks, even when it seemed scary or unconventional. I discovered new possibilities and opportunities that I might have missed if I had listened to the naysayers. And most importantly, I found fulfillment in my own way, on my own terms.
Did you have a time in your life when you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
Experiencing the theft of my catalytic converter was definitely a frustrating setback I’ve experienced, especially since I had recently moved to a new city. However, I took several steps to rebound from the experience. Given I was so new in the city, I didn’t have many connections or even resources like a trusted mechanic. The situation required me to reach out for help and support in my new community. As an unexpected result, I became familiar with and connected with colleagues, neighbors, and friends faster than I would have without this setback. I needed help, asked for it, and in the end, I felt a strong support system in my new city and life in a few short months. My ability to rebound was possible because of my willingness to be vulnerable and ask for help.
How have you cultivated resilience throughout your life? Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
When I was a child, my family moved frequently due to my dad’s career and his return to school. From 1st to 8th grade, we moved four times, which means we moved every two years. Despite not realizing it at the time, I developed resilience by learning how to make friends in new schools. I adapted to the structure, routines, and culture of each new neighborhood and school, which helped me develop a resilience to change that was out of my control. As an adult, I now understand that I learned to use uncomfortable situations as an opportunity for growth.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
Here are five ways to become more resilient:
1 . Make Connections: Humans are social beings. So having close connections provides a source of strength. Accepting help from others deepens our ability to form connections.
For example: Let’s say that you are going through a difficult time, such as a job loss or a health issue. If you try to go through it alone, you may feel overwhelmed and isolated, which can make it harder to cope with the situation.
However, if you make connections with others, you can find support and encouragement, as well as access to resources and opportunities that can help you through the situation. For example, you may reach out to friends or family members for emotional support, join a support group to connect with others who are going through a similar situation, or network with professionals in your field to find new job opportunities.
2 . Replace goals with Hypothesis: A hypothesis is a best-educated guess. It doesn’t limit you to one right answer, but rather the focus is on learning.
For example: Let’s say you had a goal of running a marathon in 6 months, but got injured you may feel frustrated and give up running altogether. However, if you approach it as a hypothesis the 6-month timeline becomes a guess not the determining factor of success. A hypothesis mindset helps you be more flexible and able to change plans.
3 . Try new things: Cultivating adaptability by trying new things is a decisive action. When we do new things don’t accidentally do it; we decide to do it. This builds our self-trust. It’s a safe way to experience mistakes as it’s assumed we won’t be good at something new. Then, if we are forced to do new things as a result of adversity, we have a strong self-trust.
For example: Let’s say that you’ve been working in the same field for a long time, but due to changes in the industry or economic factors, your job security is uncertain. If you only have experience in one area, it may be challenging to pivot to a new career path.
However, if you intentionally try new things, you can develop a wider range of skills and experiences that can make you more adaptable and versatile. For example, you may decide to take a course in a different field or start a side project to learn new skills. By expanding your knowledge and abilities, you may be better prepared to handle unexpected changes and pursue new opportunities.
4 . Self-Compassionate Accountability: Holding yourself accountable through compassion allows you more comfortable with situations that cause us to be uncomfortable or take difficult steps. This approach can help you be more resilient by building your self-esteem and confidence, and by encouraging you to learn from your experiences and try again. When we’re compassionate with ourselves we feel fierce and resilient.
For example: Let’s say that you set a goal to complete a challenging project at work, but you underestimated the amount of time and effort it would take, and you missed the deadline. If you only focus on the mistake and beat yourself up for it, you may feel discouraged and give up on pursuing future opportunities.
However, if you hold yourself accountable through compassion, you can acknowledge the mistake while also recognizing that it does not define your worth as a person or your potential for success. You may remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and that failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.
5 . Build Your Problem-Solving Skills: Being a good problem-solver can help you navigate challenges more effectively. You can practice problem-solving by breaking down complex issues into smaller parts, brainstorming possible solutions, and testing different approaches to see what works best.
For example: Let’s say that you are working on a project that requires you to learn a new programming language, but you are struggling to understand the syntax and concepts. If you only focus on the difficulty of the situation, you may feel discouraged and give up on the project.
However, if you work on building your problem-solving skills, you can approach the situation with a more strategic and analytical mindset. For example, you may break down the problem into smaller parts, seek out additional resources to learn the language, or work on similar projects to build your skills and confidence.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My mission in shifting my focus from therapy to coaching is so I can have a bigger impact on prevention. You see, as the mental health system stands now, it’s very responsive to mental health issues, but it doesn’t do enough to prevent these issues from arising in the first place. The current system creates barriers to psychoeducation and basic skills for mental wellness due to the requirements of formal diagnosis in almost all cases of insurance reimbursement. This means that people usually have to wait until they are diagnosed with a mental health disorder to receive any kind of support, rather than learning the skills to prevent such a diagnosis from happening. I believe that we need to expand the system to recognize how powerful it is to teach our youth and adults skills to manage stress, build resilience, and prevent things like burnout before it requires a diagnosis. This is why I’ve decided to shift my focus to coaching, where I can help people learn these skills and tools for mental wellness, rather than just treating mental illness after it has already developed.
The first step I’ve taken to support this mission is by helping women with fatigue and exhaustion. Through my coaching, I teach them how to understand the root causes of their fatigue, such as poor sleep or chronic stress, and provide them with the skills and tools they need to be energized and mentally well. I also help them learn how to set realistic goals and prioritize self-care, so that they can prevent burnout and other mental health issues from arising. By doing this work, I hope to empower my clients to take charge of their mental wellness and to prevent mental health issues before they become serious problems.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
I would absolutely love to be able to have a private conversation with Michelle Obama. Her inspiring life story, leadership, and advocacy work, as well as her authenticity and humility, make her a role model. She has spoken publicly about her own struggles with self-doubt and the challenges of balancing her personal and professional responsibilities. I would love to ask her how she has been a strong, successful, and compassionate leader while still being true to herself.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Come follow me on LinkedIn @coachjenjim
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!