Career planning is a giant subject. Often it starts with the question: “What do I want to do with my career in the future?” The FPA and SEI research paper “Advisory Firms in 2030: The Innovation Imperative” focuses on a very different question. It asks, “Will my career still exist in the future?”
The answer is entirely dependent on how professionals and firms adapt to the changing landscape. Adapting to change is the key.
Writing the Top Performer’s Guide to Change led me deeply into change research. It’s there that the secret to adapting to change emerged. This secret is the single best career advice for our changing landscape, and here it is: develop resilience.
This is extremely simple, but not easy. Fortunately, research psychologists discovered people who are keenly adept at resilience. They call these people “thrivers.” They also uncovered the unique factors that made thrivers excel far beyond their peers. Thrivers practice three fundamental disciplines that build resilience and deliver success. Here they are:
1.) Discipline Your Mind
The resilience research is overwhelmingly clear; your mental frame determines your future. Successful thrivers maintain a discipline of optimistic realism. They look reality squarely in the face then make a realistic assessment of the situation and focus on the positive opportunity.
Develop optimistic realism in three steps:
- Ask yourself: “What’s true?” and “Where is my opportunity?”
- Make a personal mission statement from both answers.
- Push the mental repeat button on your mission statement daily.
This technique directly immunizes against the common mental traps that kill positive resilience. It’s natural and normal for people to struggle with four poisonous perceptions. Catching them before they take hold is important. Be on the lookout for thoughts and feelings that make the situation seem:
- Permanent: Things appear like they’re never going to change for the better. You’re on a seemingly endless road of struggle.
- Personal: You feel like the epicenter of the problem. This often appears as a feeling of inadequacy.
- Pervasive: The negative circumstance bleeds into a pessimism about life in general.
- Powerless: Your confidence in making a positive impact is greatly reduced. You feel largely powerless in the situation.
Most people struggle with some or all of these pessimistic perceptions during times of transition. Humans don’t like change. It interrupts stability and security. Feeling pessimistic is the normal path. Thrivers learned to resist and disciplined themselves to overcome this natural human tendency. We can do the same. Immunize yourself with the mental discipline of a realistic and positive mission statement. Then repeat, repeat, repeat.
2.) Focus on Your Strengths
Thrivers also have a habit of focusing on their strengths. In case you think that thrivers might have it easy, let me provide some context. Thrivers were studied specifically because they had positively overcome massive challenges including criminal violence, domestic abuse, war trauma and the like. Despite massive hits, thrivers zeroed in on strengths rather than losses.
A great technique to articulate and emphasize your strengths is to make the following three lists:
- I Am: List all your intrinsic strengths, the characteristics, qualities and personality traits that help you achieve. There is great power in remembering and leveraging your natural gifts.
- I Can: List all the skills, abilities and achievements you’ve acquired over the years, both professional and personal. You can deploy your accumulated experience across multiple new opportunities.
- I Have: List all the resources available to you. Resources come in many forms, tangible and intangible. Don’t forget to include all the people who are willing and able to help you.
After you develop the lists of I am, I can and I have strengths, you’ll feel much more optimistic. Then use those lists to develop a game plan to employ your strengths to your best advantage. Revisit the lists often. They’re a tremendous confidence booster.
3.) Don’t Go It Alone
One of the most striking things about the thriver research is that no thrivers achieved alone. Every thriver intentionally developed and relied on supporters and advocates. They did a great deal of individual work to achieve and recognized their need for help. The mavericks and lone wolfs did not succeed. It takes a great deal of humility and courage to ask for help. Thrivers had that courage and it paid off.
The FPA and SEI research paper focuses on the need for innovation, in other words, the need for change. Embrace change and achieve success with positive and flexible resilience.
A business psychology and productivity coach, Barbara Kay serves clients through coaching, consulting and speaking on growth, productivity, teams, relationships, change, women and leadership. Kay speaks at conferences, builds custom workshops, consults on growth and coaches professionals nationwide. As a Woman Business Enterprise, Barbara Kay Coaching is a certified diverse supplier. She is a coach in the FPA Coaches Corner.
Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared in the FPA Coaches Corner whitepaper, “Action 2020: Create Business Success for Today and Tomorrow.” Download your copy of the whitepaper here.