10 Mental Tricks That Will Make You More Resilient


Arguably, one of the differences between the people who get ahead and those who don’t is what happens when setbacks occur. 

Not everything you do will succeed - that's just the way it is. We all get affected by setbacks. The key is to find ways of making them less of a problem.

Here are 10 mental tricks that will make you more resilient and enable yourself to get back on track more quickly.


1. Don’t Be A Victim

You decide how you react to whatever has come along. You can choose to communicate ‘I’m failing’ or ‘I’m not going away.’ It is up to you. The personal narrative that you use to rationalise what is happening is crucial.

If you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself, tell yourself that you are not a victim. You choose – not anyone else – how anything that happens will affect you.

2. Roll With It

Cultivate a mindset that adjusts to setbacks. They are a normal part of achieving something worthwhile. If something adverse occurs, recognise it then tell yourself that you know this sort of thing is inevitable. It’s happened, consider what you’ve learnt and move on.

3. You're Walking Into A Gale, That's All

Think of your problem as a headwind. You’ve already experienced plenty of these, and this present difficulty is no different. I worked for a Professor of Emergency Medicine earlier in my career. I was thinking about a career change and I asked him how he became a Professor. He thought for a moment then said.

"There were lots of us at the beginning, many who were better and more able than me. I just put my head down and kept going and then one day, the smoke cleared and I was the only one left".

If you keep going, eventually the wind will drop, and things will get easier.

4. Laugh Out Loud

Take your work seriously, but not yourself. One of the best antidotes to adversity is to find a way to laugh at it. Look for the comedy in what has happened – there usually is plenty available. If you don’t believe me just think about all of the Hollywood comedies you’ve seen where the hero has to deal with one or more knocks, custard pies or banana skins.

Take your work seriously, but not yourself.

Click to Tweet

5. Remember Your Why

Anything worth accomplishing will be a challenge. If you are clear about why you want to achieve something, you are much more likely to keep going when the going gets tough. Write down your 'why' and keep it close.

Make sure it is your 'why', a reason you own and not someone else’s. As a rule, avoid using the words ‘should’ or ‘ought’ as these often indicate you're marching to someone else's tune.

Your 'why' must be a statement that you feel committed to achieving – whenever you have a bad day, you will then be able to remind yourself why you must keep going.

6. Keep The Big Picture In View

The path to your goal is not usually a straight one. In fact, it is to be expected that you will sometimes feel you are struggling uphill or that you have made too many false turns. This is when it is helpful to remember what you are trying to achieve.

I find it helps to put a card with your most important goal on it beside your computer. Write down your goals for the month, quarter or year. Keep another in your pocket or bag. Refer to it frequently.

Find a way to keep the big picture in view each dayYou can read about my approach to this here.

7. Write A Daily Journal

If you get into the habit of maintaining a daily journal you will be able to look back at when other setbacks occurred. It can be really helpful to remind yourself about how other previous difficulties either blew over or were resolved. If you journal each day you will also put yourself in a good position to capitalise on the next best practice.

There is truth in the saying that the night is darkest just before the dawn. Having your own record which proves that things that seem enormous do pass – can encourage to keep going.

8. Make A Plan For Each Day

If you can decide before the day starts which three things you want to get done – ticking them off as you complete them gives you a boost. Steadily demonstrating to yourself that day by day you're making progress is like putting away rainy day money.

This positive sequence of small steps helps when it comes to the day when you face a problem.

You have a personal evidence base of daily progress you can draw on that means you won’t be discouraged. Tomorrow is another day.

9. Give Something Back

When you’ve hit a low point, one of the best antidotes is to do or say something kind for someone, with no expectation of anything in return. Take a moment to step outside of yourself and go for a walk. Take in the people around you and see if you can find a way to make yourself useful to someone. This can be in a small way – it doesn’t have to be a large gesture.

This is one of the most powerful ways I know of restoring your equilibrium.

10. Be Kind To Yourself

Very little that has lasting value is easy to accomplish. It is the difficulty that makes something valuable and worth the struggle. When things aren’t flowing your way, it is because you are attempting something that is worthwhile and therefore not easy to achieve. Give yourself a break and remember that you're doing something you believe in. 

Further reading:

  1. What To Do When The Wheels Fall Off
  2. What Is Stress Management About?

How do you manage setbacks and what do you do to make sure you bounce back quickly?