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Personal Resiliency

Enda Goodwin

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Any significant life change - even those you plan and want to make - requires resiliency. Resilience is a requirement of living these days. It is a critical life skill, particularly when going through a major life transition. One definition of resilience is the capacity to remain both flexible and strong in the midst of ambiguity and change.

A resilient individual has the psychological and biological strengths required to master change successfully and bounce back when the going gets tough. It is the capability to recover quickly from the stresses of change - the ability to reach within you and find ways to work with change. People who are resilient gain their emotional balance quickly, adapt and actually gain strength from dealing with adversity.

Ways to enhance resiliency

Personal resiliency is another resource you will want to use to increase your self confidence as you move into your next phase of life. Ways to enhance your resiliency include:

  • Remain realistic about life
  • Realize that attitude is more important than luck or genes
  • Exercise patience
  • Maintain hope
  • Know what is beyond your control
  • Practice relaxing
  • Take care of yourself
  • Avoid living in the past
  • Refuse to obsess
  • Focus on what you can do instead of what you can't do
  • Learn to forgive
  • Find strength in spirituality
  • Live one day at a time
  • Laugh!


Good health is a precious resource that we usually appreciate more with maturity. With good health, any life plan is easier and more fun. Without good health, life plans can change dramatically. Maintaining and improving your health is an essential part of any planning for the next phase of life.

Studies completed by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which examined the relationship between health and retirement, have found that changes in conventional retirement expectations are driven to a much greater degree by changes in health than by changes in income or wealth.

Where we choose to put our attention now can make a significant contribution to how long and how well we live. "The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live," says Joan Borysenko, psychologist, motivational speaker and author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind.

Look for a health practitioner who can become a partner with you in your own wellness. If you are in committed relationships of any kind, look for peers you can support and who will support you in caring for your health.


Close relationships can be an enormous resource in any life endeavor. At the same time, conflicts can arise in those relationships, especially in times of change.

Radical changes in work life, home life, goals and time allocations can disrupt even the strongest relationships. There are numerous opportunities for divergence of opinion on issues both large and small. All of these need to be examined, and all viewpoints must be considered. The challenge is to help everyone involved feel fulfilled and become strong supporters of any plan. There needs to be a balance so that no one feels deserted, compromised, or trapped.

Sometimes this involves communicating our dreams. It means talking about what has changed and what needs to be achieved. It also means merging new goals with old goals and recognizing the ideas of everyone involved. This becomes a discussion of what will be separate and what will be combined activities. Hopefully, at the end of this discussion will come a new possibility for an integrated view of the relationship and the future.

The next phase of your life may last 10 years, 20 years or longer. If it takes some weeks or even months of investigation and discussion to create a life plan that everyone is happy with, that time is probably very well spent.


Friends and acquaintances are a great resource in times of change. Change sometimes also offers the opportunity to find new friends and acquaintances.

Whenever we make a significant transition in our lives, it can have an impact on our circle of friends. The ideal is having lifelong friends who provide stimulation, acceptance, emotional support and assistance. However, the reality of our lifestyles may mean that when we go through dramatic changes, our friends may change as well. In difficult times, it helps to have friends who have experienced challenges similar to ours. This is a role that both new and old friends can play in this next phase of life.

Creating friendships with all age groups is one of the strongest recommendations from people who have been successful in this stage of life. Look for commonality in the people you meet and seek opportunities to mentor people younger or with less experience than you.

Think of the role friendship plays in your life. Each of us has a circle of friends. Sometimes it is helpful to take a few minutes and think about your circle of friends. How large a circle do you have or want? Are most of your friends close, casual or both?

Can friends help us live better? A landmark UCLA study about friendship among women suggests that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the effects of daily stress. In another study, researchers found that those who had the most friends over a nine-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%. Other studies have suggested that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol.

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