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Resilience (Module 6 of 9)

When life knocks you down, you might be left wondering how to get back up. This module will teach you strategies to improve your resilience, or ability to recover after setbacks.

"You may tread me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I'll rise." -- Maya Angelou

Top Tips

  • Get SMART.When goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Oriented, and Time-Based), you’ll have a better sense of how to tackle them.
  • Follow your interests.Rather than setting goals that you think you “should” set, think about what you actually want for yourself and set goals around that.
  • Avoid avoidance.Running away or hiding from a problem is often a tempting response, but it rarely solves anything, and can sometimes even make things worse.
  • Find somebody to lean on.It’s normal to feel upset by challenges or failures. In these moments, look to your family, friends, and mentors for support. Your college also likely has a number of support services (e.g. counseling, peer tutoring, financial aid) to help you overcome whatever hurdle you are facing.
  • Epic fails = epic learning experiences!Think about where things went wrong and what could have been done differently. Seek out feedback and listen to it openly.
  • Let it go.Change what you can, but don’t dwell on what you can’t control.
  • Flip the script.If you can’t let it go, or feel completely knocked down after a setback, reframe your beliefs about the three P’s: Personalization, Permanence, and Pervasiveness.
  • Know your worth.There are so many things you’re doing excellently. Remind yourself of them.
  • Be kind to yourself.Make time for self-care, including sleep, exercise, fun, and good food.

Before You Start

Why Resilience?

You’ve made it to college and are experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of campus life! You’re feeling every feeling:

  • the excitement of meeting new people;
  • the pride of acing a test;
  • the exhilaration (or is that nausea?) of getting to eat pizza for dinner seven nights a week.

You’re probably also going to experience some less-than-awesome feelings -- you might be lonely, anxious, or overwhelmed trying to balance your family, work, and academic responsibilities. You might go through a breakup, get sick, or fail a course. You might do all of these things in the same week. These challenges, at times, may start to feel overwhelming.

The truth is, you are going to encounter challenges in life. Sometimes, you are going to struggle, or even fail. The key to overcoming these hurdles is resilience.

About Resilience

Resilience is the inner strength that pushes you to keep going when you are feeling overwhelmed or defeated. Resilience is bigger than any one specific challenge -- it’s not just about school, work, or your personal life. Rather, resilience is the ability to accomplish difficult goals and bounce back from disappointing or painful experiences. This can feel especially difficult after you’ve had a setback, but actually, this is one of the times that you most need to persevere.

What if I can’t just bounce back?

Resilience isn’t something you’re simply born with. It’s a muscle you develop over your lifetime: you become more resilient by facing challenges and learning from your experiences. This isn’t always easy, though -- it can be difficult to simply pick yourself back up off the ground in the face of disappointment or devastation. It can be hard to just “let it go and move on.”

This module will help you to build resilience by showing you how to set and accomplish realistic goals, tackle problems, and bounce back from bad experiences.

Test Your Resilience!

While this module will help you to become more resilient, know that you are not starting from zero. Everyone has some level of resilience -- after all, if you had no resilience, you would never have been able to apply to and get into college!

Before learning how to become more resilient, it may be helpful to understand how resilient you already are. Check out this resilience quiz - opens in a new window by Dr. Al Siebert, author of The Resiliency Advantage.