How do you cope with change?
Do you handle all demanding situations with the same self confidence, emerging on the other side of change with an even better circumstance than before?
Are you quite calm while you tackle one particular change, but freeze up or fall apart when facing other types of changes?
Have you noticed it takes longer for someone who is surprised by change to move forward with their life, than someone who determines in advance that change is necessary and initiates first steps on their own?
Anticipating change, having sufficient time to plan how you’ll cope, and building support for yourself, are key steps in bouncing back from difficult situations after 50.
These are all aspects of an important muscle to build during your after age 50 life: Resilience.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to anticipate and adapt successfully to change (sometimes before it even happens), and to bounce back from unexpected or negative events that may derail you, perhaps emerging even stronger and better than before.
Learning this skill or developing a more resilient attitude or mindset further (if you already feel grounded in it), will help you cope with challenges and possibilities during your after 50 years. Resilience can affect or perhaps even determine how quickly or easily we move forward in the next stage of our lives.
Anticipating changes – getting ready for them BEFORE they happen – is your best chance of coping well because it allows you time to think about how to respond and what to do if undesired events actually occur.
Levels of Resilience
Your particular ability to cope with stressful situations depends on many different factors:
- How you were brought up and saw problems handled in your family
- Your basic self esteem
- How flexible or versatile your skills, interests and personality allow you to be
- Your health (optimal or changing)
- How strong your support system is – or is not
- Your ability to observe and make sense of the world around you
How Routines Affect Your Resilience
Routines are an important and helpful part of each day, letting us relax at various times into patterns we know are safe and functional.
Believe it or not, habits account for about 40% of our daily routines, allowing our brains to stop fully functioning in our minute-to-minute life decisions, a fundamental point in Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business.”
Consider this. If we spend 40% of our days pretty much unconscious, prompted by cues and routines around us rather than actually thinking, it’s not surprising that we miss some of the cues in our relationships or work environments that something has changed, or isn’t quite right.
And then we’re surprised or shocked by what happens – especially if that change isn’t to our liking.
Living so much of our life on autopilot can spell disaster for us, making the loss of our job or loss of a valued relationship a complete surprise, instead of a situation we may have been able to anticipate or take action to prevent if we saw any early warning signs.
How to Increase Your Resilience
Even having money in the bank to provide a financial cushion in a crisis serves to increase your resilience by reducing the immediate stress and pressures you’ll feel to take action quickly, allowing you time to adjust to the changes required so you can adapt in the best ways possible.
Keeping your friendships and relationships strong is key to maintaining an even keel when the winds of change blow. Turn to your family and friends for help, and ask for their support and encouragement. Just hearing yourself speak your concerns out loud and having someone listen to you, can prompt you to look at your situation differently.
Cultivate a variety of interests and share your enthusiasm with like-minded others in your community, whether that’s neighborhood gardening, the arts, or a book club. Expand your mind, enjoy a welcome distraction from your worries and get out of the house.
Finding Some Quiet Time
Time for reflection as you consider making changes in your life is important too.
Giving yourself a bit of distance from your routines may provide the space you need to look at your life and environment with 100% of your brain, instead of the 60% attention level you usually give to your daily life.
You can increase your awareness of potential challenges by taking quiet time each day away from your routines by:
- Meditating or spending time alone
- Writing in a journal
- Exercising – especially out in Nature
- Unplugging from obligations and electronic devices or
- Getting away for a short trip and change of scenery
These self care strategies are all ways to keep your antenna strong and sharp, so that you catch the cues and signs in your life that could alert you change is afoot.
In fact, taking some quiet time away from your routines, distractions and other people around you, just to read this article and answer some of the questions below, may allow you to better consider the changes you might need or want to make in your life.
How Resilient Are You?
Our years after age 50 are filled with some of life’s most difficult and challenging events, prompting changes in ourselves and our lives that are hard to imagine ahead of time like loss of our health, finances or people we love. Increasing our resilience allows each of us to adapt to change, or initiate necessary changes, in our lives and businesses.
To a great extent, our ability to bounce back from unexpected events is influenced by our willingness to anticipate changes that are likely to occur, which helps us get ready for them BEFORE they happen.
Taking time to anticipate change, to think about how to respond and what to do if an undesired event actually occurs is a self-care strategy that will help everyone in your life.
- If your spouse or partner is currently working but suddenly could no longer work at all…would your income and budget still provide for both of you and your lifestyle?
- What kind of support systems do you currently have in your life to cushion you through tough times? Are they different from the type and level of support you had in your life at a younger age – and are they what you need?
- If you were injured and couldn’t work for 3-6 months…what would your life be like?
- If you lost your job tomorrow…what would you do? Would you start a business?
What safety nets can you put into place so when difficult changes take place, you can be more resilient?
If you’d like to explore your propensity for starting a business, this Midlife Business Roadmap (link) will help you get started. I’m also available for a free discovery session by phone (link).