The past year has challenged even the most resilient among us, but with practice we can all bounce back better. Here are our top tips for improving your flexibility and adaptability.
1. Think positive
You can’t always control life-changing events, but you can control how you respond to them. Rather than dwelling on negative thoughts, accept that change is part of life, and try to see it as an opportunity for personal growth. What can you learn? How will this situation better prepare you for the future? Concentrate on what you ultimately want to achieve, rather than worrying about the obstacles in your way. Try to keep things in perspective, and avoid catastrophising or feeling helpless or overwhelmed. The more you can face a stressful situation with optimism and positivity, the more resilient you will become – and the better equipped you will be to face the next challenge.
2. Look after yourself
Stress is just as much physical as it is emotional, so it’s important to look after both body and mind. Staying healthy will give your body the resources it needs to cope with pressure and adversity, so focus on the fundamentals of nutrition, sleep and exercise. Try to eat well – avoid the temptations of comfort food and alcohol – and get enough good-quality sleep. Exercise has the power to transform your mental as well as your physical wellbeing, so get into the habit of regular activity, even if it’s just a daily walk around the block. Meditation and mindfulness are useful mental health tools, too – just a few minutes of deep breathing each day can lower your stress levels and help you feel ready to face challenges head on.
3. Use your support network
Whether it’s friends, family or colleagues, connecting with others is vital (even if it has to be via video call at the moment). Prioritise those people in your life who genuinely care about you, and nurture strong relationships. Though perhaps less easy to do at the moment, joining a group can be a great way of connecting with like-minded people. Simply knowing that you’re not alone, and that others are facing and overcoming the same challenges as you – especially true in the current situation – can give much-needed reassurance, comfort and strength. Learn from those around you: what tips and tricks are they using to get through tough times? Helping others can be surprisingly empowering too, so offer support where you can, even if it’s just a friendly ear at the end of the phone.
4. Work towards a goal
A sense of purpose can provide much-needed focus, especially in a constantly changing situation. If you have a big goal that seems insurmountable – such as completing the ACA, for example – break it down into smaller, more manageable milestones. What can you accomplish today that will get you a step closer to your goal? While drive and ambition are great, it’s important to give yourself a break too. Reward yourself for your achievements, however small they might seem. If you finish a particularly tricky piece of work, why not treat yourself to your favourite takeaway? And if you don’t hit those deadlines – be kind to yourself. Remember that no one is perfect, and try not to pile extra pressure on yourself.
5. Seek help
Some people just seem to be born resilient, and jump straight back on the horse after a knock. But if you’ve never ridden before, chances are you would take some expert tuition first. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness – and it helps to build emotional resilience. If you’re struggling with a problem at work or college, talk to your manager, mentor or tutor. And remember that CABA offers free help and advice to all past and present ACA students and ICAEW members on a huge range of issues, from career development to dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. With the right support, adapting to life-changing situations is something we can all practise, and achieve.
Professional development is one of four parts of the ACA. Our professional development ladders prepare you to successfully handle different situations that you’ll encounter throughout your career.
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Visit Careers+ for more career development advice. It’s an ideal place to help you start your career in accountancy, or if you’ve already started your journey as an ICAEW CFAB or ACA independent student and are looking for the next step