We all have bad days. And, as 2020 has clearly shown, sometimes that bad day can become a bad month which can become a bad year. But even bad years can teach us, and perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned from 2020 is the value of resilience. As we shake off the dust of the year that changed the world and embrace what I hope will be a brighter 2021 for all of us, consider how you can hone these qualities to get past the dark clouds – whether that’s a global pandemic, work issues or personal struggles – to find those silver linings, pick up the PIECES and move forward.
Persistence doesn’t top this list just so I could create a cool acronym. It really is a core characteristic of some of the most successful people I’ve met, and it’s the key to developing the resilience that will serve you long after 2021 ends. The challenges of life will sometimes delay you or even knock you off course, but having the grit to keep going, whether that means another attempt or a new path, is essential. That doesn’t mean you need to be superhuman; we all have days when we feel like we just can’t. It does mean that, even after a bad day (or week, or year), you don’t quit trying. Start small with positive thinking and positive self-talk. Maybe that’s as simple as saying. “I can do it.” Like any other good habit, persistence takes work (quite literally), but once you get in the routine, you’ll find it easier and easier to put into practice.
I know, I know. The compliance and ethics professional is talking about integrity. How obvious! Just hear me out: Integrity is about so much more than the way people see you. Integrity is WHO YOU ARE. Ensuring you’re the kind of person who means what they say, someone who shows up and does the right thing, will help you support your loved ones and your colleagues through the hard spots and will give you that extra well of strength to overcome any obstacle.
Enthusiasm (and energy!)
Just existing isn’t for the resilient. Finding energy from the things around you and applying that enthusiasm to life is essential to finding the joy in things – whether that’s your work or your personal life. We all get in slumps. The key is to recognize them and climb out as quickly as possible, relying on friends, family and coworkers for emotional support as needed. If you find yourself lacking enthusiasm for some part of your work or life, first consider whether it’s adding any value or is something you need to continue. If it’s something you need to keep doing, try re-framing it or looking at it in a different way. Sometimes just talking about it with another person can help you get excited about something all over again.
Speaking of talking, open and honest communication is one of the best ways to work out any issues you might be going through. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need help at home or work, all you need to do is ask. We often make the mistake of thinking people know when we need to talk, or we may assume that because a person hasn’t approached us that they don’t need to connect. Keeping communication lines open and encouraging that connection won’t just help you get what you need – it’ll also help everyone you interact with feel heard, recognized and respected.
Another lesson from 2020: We are all going through something, whether big or small. And, since we can never begin to understand what someone is experiencing, really digging in and striving for empathy is so important. By being empathetic to others and remaining open to receive that same compassion, we find the human connection we so deeply need, especially in our new highly virtual world. Finding ways to express (and ask for) empathy in as real and genuine a way as possible won’t just get you to the other side of a challenge; it’ll help you build and foster relationships in every sphere of your life.
Now’s the time to put all the PIECES in place with the final quality: self-starting. So much about what you can achieve is about your mindset and about getting out there and doing it. And no one will do it for you. While you won’t succeed every time, the qualities you’re honing – persistence, integrity, enthusiasm and empathy – will help keep you on track.
Getting started may be as small as a post-it on your monitor or your mirror or as big as signing up for a class or hiring a coach to help you work on a specific area. But, whatever your starting line looks like and whatever pace you take, what better day to begin than today?
When you commit to picking up the pieces that serve you well and minimizing or eliminating the things that have held you back, you take a tangible series of steps towards a better future.