A flower grows between cracks in the concrete.

Soft Skill Spotlight: Resilience

Welcome to our new Soft Skills for Career Success series. Every month, we’ll feature a new soft skill (aka life skill) that can help you succeed in the workplace and beyond. Today’s subject: Resilience.

The concept of “resilience” has been popular for a while now. We’re told that it’s important, that it can help us through challenging experiences. We’re told that if we have it or its cousin “grit,” we’ll be able to overcome anything, everything. We’re told that resilience makes us strong.

But is this really true? And aren’t we just being told to toughen up?

The answer to the first question: yes, sort of. The answer to the second: definitely not.

Resilience won’t solve all of life’s problems or make challenges disappear. It’s not magic. But developing resilience can make challenges more manageable, and it can help us grow—in our personal lives and in our careers. In fact, resilience is one of the most important skills for career advancement because in our jobs, as in all parts of our lives, we all have hard tasks, hard days, and hard lessons to learn.

Resilience is not about toughening up, though. It’s the ability to adapt to adversity and, with some effort, maybe even grow from difficult experiences. Resilience helps us cope with stress and pain, but it does not make us immune to those feelings.

So how can we build resilience? Well, research shows that there are four main ways to develop resilience, which, like a muscle, needs regular exercise:

  1. Build healthy connections with others, and reach out to empathetic people when life gets hard.
  2. Take care of your body. Stress affects our bodies, and eating well, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, and staying hydrated can make a real difference.
  3. Take care of your mind. Practice mindfulness and gratitude, and find ways to process your thoughts and feelings (for example by journaling, talking to a good friend, or going on solo walks).
  4. Find meaning in your life. Meaning can come from setting and working toward personal goals, volunteering in your community, helping a friend, or reflecting on lessons learned from challenges.

While we won’t become perfectly resilient overnight, regularly taking time to build our resilience through connection, self-care, and reflection can help us build this important skill for life and career success. Try out some of the strategies above and let us know how it goes by emailing jobsforyouth@smcgov.org or commenting on the post below.

Want to learn more strategies for improving your soft skills? Browse our other Soft Skills for Career Success blog posts and check back next month for a new topic. You can also email jobsforyouth@smcgov.org to sign up for one of our career-success workshops or check out our workbooks to further develop your skills on your own.