The Importance of Career Resilience and How to Cultivate It

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Within every career, there is a set of standards and expectations that define it. Prospective job applicants know what to expect within those standards when they pursue a degree and apply for a position within that job definition. But even when a title is widely explained and detailed, there are still things that crop up occasionally that require the employee to adjust what they know of their job description.

This flexibility is vital to a researcher, in particular, because the field of academics is always evolving. The definition of a career academic is not predetermined before you enter the role; it fluctuates as the world’s needs change. These forced adaptations can cause stress in a person who doesn’t like change or can’t adjust to unforeseen challenges easily. If that sounds like you, the trait of career resilience is one that you will want to cultivate, or the ever-changing facets of your research career may put you on the path to burnout.

Failure is Not an Option: It’s a Growth Point for Scholars

One reason researchers have such difficulty being flexible is because they are laser-focused on keeping every variable controlled and accounted for in their projects. This is an essential trait to have in the lab, but it’s not as admirable in the actual career environment. When you’re dealing with human behavior rather than manipulatable data, it’s not as easy or as well-perceived when you try to control the outcome.

The problem is that letting go of control of an experiment can lead to “failure.” The reality is that changing your mindset to view failure as a growth point can help you improve your job as a researcher, and your skills as a coworker or employee. 

How to Adjust Your Mentality to Be More Resilient

This shift in mindset comes from training your brain to be more resilient. It’s not an easy adjustment, and it will take time. It can take 20 days or longer to challenge the neural pathways that are already established in the brain, and another 20 to create and cement new habits.

To embrace career resilience and foster flexibility with change, begin with these daily habit adjustments:

●      Consider yourself a life-long learner. You don’t know everything about the world and your place in it, and you don’t know everything about your industry, no matter how experienced you are. Technologies and societies change. It’s your job to stay up on those trends by always keeping on the cusp of advancements. When you recognize that you should always be learning, every obstacle is a potential lesson waiting to be unwrapped.

●      Increase your professional network. By interacting with limited people, you end up with limited experiences. The more unique individuals are in your network, the better you can grow your emotional intelligence and pick up interpersonal skills. These skills will help you understand why changes are necessary when someone else needs to make them. Should you need to plan a career adjustment in the future, your network is there to make the transition easier.

●      Take an active role in your career. No one is burnt out faster than a researcher who thinks everyone is controlling their actions for them. You have the ability and the right to say no, to pursue opportunities that challenge and excite you, and to build your skills and develop them at your own pace.

●      Create goals and stick to them. Similar to taking that active role, you can’t move forward in the right direction purposely if you don’t have your eyes on a target. Don’t focus on things that happened in your past, whether they were good or bad. Each situation grew you as a person. Let that growth be toward your goals.

These four seemingly simple mindset changes will foster your resilience in any career you choose. As a researcher, they’re the vital seeds that must be planted before you can successfully handle everything the job throws at you.

Expand Your Career With Impactio

Tips two and three involve expanding your network and taking an active role in your career. These are both possible when you sign up to join Impactio, America’s largest scientific networking platform.

Impactio can connect you to a vast community of researchers like you. Along the way, you’ll learn what works (and what doesn’t) to keep those academic scholars resilient and flexible. When you’re ready to grow your career opportunities, start networking with the experts on Impactio.

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