How to Build Resilience in a Crisis: Strategies for Optimism in 2021

January 12, 2021

Your outlook on life impacts your happiness, success, and sense of overall well-being, yet many people never give it much thought. 

The year 2020, however, put our perspectives into sharp focus. Volatile industries, shifting job markets, and disruptions to work and day-to-day life have made many of us look in the mirror and ask ourselves: “what can I do to improve my outlook on life?”

Being optimistic might seem impossible, but there are simple things you can do to build resilience during a crisis and improve your overall outlook.

Why is Optimism Important?

Optimism is important because it doesn’t just push us to frame things differently; it also inspires others around us to rise to challenges and work through difficulties!

Research has also shown that optimistic salespeople make significantly more sales, meaning that investment in this area can increase your earning potential as well. 

If you’re not the kind of person who was born optimistic — don’t worry! Optimism is among the “soft skills” including emotional intelligence and resilience you can develop through training and practice.

How to Become More Optimistic

Becoming more optimistic isn’t impossible — it just takes time. Below are some practices from our book Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success to help you reframe pessimistic moods and thoughts:

Avoid Negative Environments 

Make a list of the negative environments that might be working against having positive thoughts and feelings. What can you do to avoid them, or minimize their presence in your life?

Focus Outside of Yourself

What are the positive influences in your life? Consider all external factors including work, family, friends, travel, and more. Focusing on these elements can help you feel good about your life, which in turn can lead to a more optimistic outlook.

Celebrate Your Strengths

List your strengths, best features, favourite qualities, and the things for which you’re grateful. Keep this list handy so you can reference it whenever you start indulging in negative self-talk.

Develop the qualities needed to become an unshakeable leader by registering for our upcoming Leading with Resilience course.

Next Steps: Three Ways to Build Resilience in a Crisis

Staying optimistic is hard enough, but it can be especially challenging during difficult or stressful periods. Use these three strategies to keep shining a “positive light” on your life and focusing on elements that increase optimism:

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal 

As we’ve said, it can be hard to focus on the positives when we feel anxious or stressed. Keeping a gratitude journal gives you a chance to reflect on what you’re thankful for every day, and has the added benefit of giving you a documented list of reasons to be thankful during times of crisis.

2. Reframe Your Thinking

This is a tactic used by executive coaches to help their clients see different perspectives. For example, what about a recent failure or struggle can be re-framed as a learning experience? 

3. Change Your Vocabulary

Nurture a culture of optimism within yourself by reflecting on the negative words you tend to use, and negative thoughts you have on a regular basis. Then, replace those words and thoughts with positive words and thoughts. 

Build Resilience in 2021

The strategies outlined above will help you build a more optimistic outlook on life and re-frame challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. For more exercises to develop your resilience, pick up your copy of our book “Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success.” You can also register for our Leading with Resilience course and become an unshakeable leader.