Updated: Dec 10, 2022
By Rhonda Collins, I Start Wondering Columnist
What do you do when you look around and realize your life has taken you to a place you don’t want to be? This is what I recently discovered about my own life. I’ve determined it’s time for a change. It’s time to bounce.
The challenges and stresses of living through a global pandemic caused me to reflect on my job, activities outside of work, and my relationships with my family and friends. I realized I am not spending time in the ways I want, my morale is low, and I’m not as healthy as I should be.
My COVID-19-related struggles were minor when compared to others for whom the pandemic was seriously traumatic, with job losses, political and racial divisiveness, illnesses, and deaths of loved ones.
Whether you have had serious concerns or minor ones, you may be like me – re-evaluating where you are in life, wondering if it’s time for a change. You may want to go back to a pre-pandemic happy place or move elsewhere, following a path to new adventures. Either way now is a good time to make a plan to bounce.
Moving on Resilience
The first thing to know about bouncing in our personal lives is that, just like a ball that bounces, you rarely end up back exactly where you were before. If you have experienced true trauma in your life, you may go back further than when the difficulty began. For example, if you or a spouse had a job loss, you may have ended up in a worse financial position, causing the loss of a home or vehicle, or incurring a mountain of debt. Or, perhaps, a personal illness or loss of a loved one generated new fears that have you in a less mentally healthy place than you were before that illness or loss. If this is the case for you, be sure to seek appropriate assistance to get through the trauma.
On the other hand, you may have been fortunate enough to bounce forward after tapping into new stamina, relearning a hobby/skill, or being reminded of your life mission. You also might bounce sideways, discovering a whole new, unexpected path for yourself.
The term resilience is thrown around a lot lately as being crucial to success. The notion is that we ought to have the ability to recover quickly from stress and challenges. Sometimes referred to as grit, perseverance, or mental toughness, it’s all about deciding to move on, and then having the gumption to do so.
The question is: How do we make ourselves more resilient? In researching the topic, I’ve found seven keys to resilience that will allow us to move on. I’m suggesting the acronym BOUNCES as a reminder for the steps: Believe, Options, Understand, Navigate, Creativity, Examples, and Support.
Believe in Yourself!
The first step in moving on is to believe that you can. Shawn Achor, the researcher in positive psychology, says, “The more you believe in your own ability to succeed, the more likely it is that you will.” Most people want to be successful so that they can be happy. But Achor’s many years of research show that if we are already happy, THEN we have more success. Thus, find opportunities to laugh and enjoy life, and you will begin to have a more positive outlook on your future. This optimism will fuel your belief that you can successfully find a way forward.
Options for Other Paths
Second, consider all your alternatives for moving forward. Sure, you want to consider where you were before, but where else might you want to be? Scan your environment for all the possibilities. Do you see an opportunity to retire soon or start a business? Did you enjoy being home with the kids during COVID-19, and now prefer to work part-time? Take time to research and consider the new options that might be available to you as you move on.
Understand your Mission
Do you still feel the same calling you once did, or do you sense a new purpose for your life? Stephen Covey, the author of a series of books on personal growth and success, says to “Begin with the end in mind” by thinking about what you want to have accomplished over your lifetime, and turn it into a purpose statement to guide your journey. As you consider your options, it might be time to revisit (or write) your personal mission statement. If you have never written a mission statement, you can learn more here.
Navigate Using your North Star
Once your possibilities and purpose are identified and clear in your mind, the next step is to chart your course. You can navigate to success by 1. Setting small goals that lead to your end result; and 2. Using your values to guide your decisions.
Those values act as your North Star, guiding you even when life feels dark, and the path is hard to see. You soon will be hearing a lot more about values in the pages of I Start Wondering.
Creativity for Solving Problems
Awe and innovation result from encouraging your head and hands to be creative. Be open to new ways of doing things, exploring new paths. Try solving problems using methods you’ve never tried before. Creativity also leads to less stress and better mental health, both of which are important aspects of bouncing back strong.
Examples to Motivate
It’s easy to fall into a victim mentality and believe we can’t get back up. Perhaps the most important way to overcome any challenge is to remind yourself of the times when you have done it before. Take a moment to think about examples in your past where you have been resilient and tell yourself, “If I did it then, I can do it again!” If you don’t have a lot of personal experiences to call on, find inspiration in the stories of others. Brené Brown, psychologist and best-selling author, says, “We’re wired for story.” As humans, storytelling helps us to remember and to connect with others. Hearing stories causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin – feel-good chemicals that boost our positive attitude.
Support is Essential
All of the previous suggestions are about personal actions you can take to move on. This step is about pausing – to get the support you need to continue the journey. We all need to take time to sharpen the saw for it to continue to cut efficiently. Sometimes that support will come in the form of self-care. Taking time to relax and reflect helps nourish our mental muscles for when we must be strong… However, some days we are so overwhelmed or exhausted that we need to look elsewhere for support. Don’t be scared or embarrassed to tap your network of family, friends, and colleagues to get assistance to continue with your efforts to bounce.
Ultimately, bouncing is about picking yourself up and deciding it’s time to get on with life, even though it’s hard. It’s about deciding to be happy, and making a plan to grow and bounce back . . . or forward . . . or sideways.
As for me, I’ve decided to do some bouncing, myself. I am renewing my commitment to family connections, to my writing, and a healthy lifestyle.
How about you? Where will you bounce this year?
If you want to learn more about moving on and resilience, I highly recommend reading The Happiness Advantage: How a Positive Brain Fuels Success in Work and Life by Shawn Achor, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, and Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown.