Fallen off the 2014 Resolution (or Resilience) Wagon? Read on…

In my first blog post of the year, I shared some thoughts about how to more successfully tackle that big New Year’s resolution. (Read it here if you missed it.) Briefly, I outlined a simple “chunking” technique taken right out of our kid’s resilience building program. I also promised in my next post to talk about the tougher part of starting a big project and staying on-task to complete it. This has to do with how facing a project makes us feel, and how these emotions can stop us in our tracks.

If you’re a student of Adaptiv’s resilience model, you already know that it’s how we think about a situation that causes what we feel and do about it. You also know that we develop Thinking Styles – habits of thought that can interfere with good problem solving and lead us to feel and do badly for no good reason. And guess what? These thinking habits begin to firm up as early as age 8 and are set in stone by age 18. So, if you missed our children’s resilience training, read on.

Facing a large, complex task can make us feel uncomfortable, and the discomfort can keep us from get started. Anxiety, frustration, and even anger are common emotional reactions. Since what we feel is caused by what we think, here are some typical thoughts that people have when facing a big project, paired with the emotions they cause:

  • “I don’t think I have what it takes to do this task.”     Sadness

  • “What if this cuts into my leisure time?”                    Anxiety

  • “I don’t have the time or energy to do this.”              Frustration

  • “It’s unreasonable to expect me to do this.”              Anger

Can you see the differences? The first person is looking inward, thinking about what they lack in themselves. The second is looking forward, worrying about what the future might bring. The third is focusing on resources they don’t have. And the fourth is placing blame on someone or something other than themselves. The simple fact is that all four may just be wrong – informed not by what’s really happening but by their Thinking Styles. So they may be feeling negative emotion that will cause their resilience and performance to needlessly suffer.

If you find yourself getting slowed down or stopped by non-resilient thoughts and feelings, try this:

  • First, go easy on yourself. You’ve had lots of practice thinking the way you do. It can take some time to “build a new thinking muscle”.

  • Next, get off autopilot. Start tuning into your thinking. Think of it like the crawl at the bottom of the cable news channel screen. Pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself, especially when you’re feeling badly like in the above example.

  • Be skeptical of your thinking. It’s what’s making you feel badly, but it may not be giving you an accurate read on what’s really going on. You might find it helpful to ask yourself a simple one-word question: “Really???”. At the very least, count to 10 before taking what you’re thinking at face value.

  • If your emotions have gotten the best of you, try using a simple calming technique – like taking a few deep breaths, or thinking of a pleasant experience. You should find that you’re able to think more clearly.

  • Once you’ve got yourself in a more resilient frame of mind, re-read the last blog post about how to chunk your task into manageable pieces.


Oh, and one more thing - I've taken my own advice, and so far, so good. This is my second post of 2014. Resolution intact!!

How are you doing with your resolutions and big projects?

Leave A Comment