This year the theme for International Women’s Day was #ChooseToChallenge. International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to discover what other women around the world are doing and feel inspired to find your own path. I was invited by the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs to discuss how women in business can challenge the safe zone and find strategies to explore ‘the beyond’ on a panel moderated by Enterprise Nation.
Here, I’m sharing the main points from that session, so that you can think about how you #ChoosetoChallenge yourself in work and life.
1) Reducing the Impact of Challenges
When we are faced with a challenge, it is all about our reaction to that challenge. If we perceive it negatively, then our experience is more likely to be negative, so it’s important to focus on how we react when presented with a challenge.
Learn about what triggers you and when. What feelings come up when you are faced with a challenge? Always take that time to acknowledge how you are feeling about a situation before responding.
Being aware and responding intentionally to a challenge helps you become responsible for how you express yourself. Whilst we may not be able to control the way we think or feel straight away, we can manage how we respond through our actions.
2) The Role of Resilience in Coping with Challenges
Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity and bounce back. When we build resilience, it makes it easier to navigate challenges. When we cope better with challenges, we reduce the impact they cause and this can then boost our sense of wellbeing.
Many people think that resilience is a gift, but actually, it is something you can learn. Develop that skill and it will stand by you when you need it.
In order to build resilience, the key is to accept what is beyond your control and focus your energy on what you change. There will always be things that you can’t control, but once you learn that you can master your own behaviour and actions, you accept what is out of your hands.
3) Using your Strengths to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
More and more research indicates that playing to our strengths has a positive impact on our productivity, our motivation, and happiness. When playing to our strengths, our confidence and self-belief soar. Unfortunately, this is often ignored by traditional corporate models, where the focus has been on areas of improvement.
Identify your strengths and play to them. Find ways to use them more, develop them further, and create more value from using them. What more can you do at work or in business to expand the application of your strengths? Find new ways to stretch yourself. Building on your strengths can increase your motivation and engagement and this helps build resilience, supporting you when you step outside your comfort zone.
4) Reframing Challenges
My first tip on reframing challenges would be to exercise cognitive flexibility when approaching a challenge. This skill has been identified as critical to the future of work, so building flexibility into the way you think will benefit you in the long term.
This is not about ignoring that it is a challenge, but about finding opportunity in the situation. Ask yourself: What are you up against and what have you got going for you? Work through the situation more constructively.
My second tip is to find perspective: Ask yourself: Will this matter in say, a year’s time? This can help you decide how significant this issue is in the context of your project/career/life and enable you to decide the appropriate level of response. This simple question can create a remarkable shift in how you deal with adversity.
5) Finding Enjoyment in Challenges
You can find enjoyment in challenges when you see the bigger picture and allow yourself time to process. Having a goal or a purpose is critical here. When you gain clarity on what you’re trying to achieve and what overcoming the challenge means to you, you know why you are accepting this struggle.
Then, release yourself from any idea of achieving it quickly or perfectly while doing so. Give yourself permission to try, to fail, to get up and try again. Don’t compare yourself to others, it’s a trap many fall into. Release yourself from the tension of expectations in the short term and focus on the end goal. Then you’ll feel lighter and accept the lessons along the way while still moving forward to your overall goal.
Natasha Chatur is a Work Happiness Coach with a corporate background. She believes passionately and from experience, that such periods of professional transition and personal transformation can be improved, accelerated, and more successful when providing access to coaching as a developmental opportunity.
Watch the replay of Natasha’s brilliant live training on Work Happiness: Work Happiness Recorded Training Session with Natasha Chatur