As the end of the year approaches, we are reflecting back on the chaos of an unforgettable year and looking hopefully (and perhaps somewhat warily) to the months ahead. No matter what 2021 brings, it is possible to not just survive, but to thrive, with the aid of a few adjustments in perspective, courtesy of our friend, Sana Govender. Sana is an organisational & behavioural psychologist and performance coach driven by unlocking human potential and the capacity we have to achieve great things, making him just the man to turn to for some wise words.
Here is his advice for taking on whatever the world throws at you.
So, 2020 has been one heck of a year. One that has brought with it a crazy amount of good, bad and chaotic experiences but also a huge amount of clarity. It has forced us to reassess our priorities, our paths, our goals and our lives in general. It has shown us that automatic living has no place in our lives and for us to live as healthy, happy and efficiently as possible, conscious action is required instead of passive acceptance. However, chaos is something we are well acquainted with because the world we live in is one of chaos. Our individual brains are processing and organising that chaos as best as is possible, trying very hard to bring structure to that chaos and forming your life as you know it.
With that said, I want you to think about life as the open ocean, wild, untamed, unpredictable and purely fluid in movement. Now I want you to think of a pool, whether naturally formed or man-made. The idea of the pool is to tame the water, bring clarity to its fluidity and structure to its chaos, making the pool safer and easier to swim in, with a more enjoyable experience.
Without conscious effort and a plan, it is quite difficult to get the most out of life normally, without taking into account the current Covid climate we find ourselves in. However, the good news is, there are quite a few things we can think about and implement in our lives to help us not only bring structure to chaos but also thrive in it. Here are my five pillars for thriving in chaos:
Bouceback is your ability to rebound from physical, mental or emotional setback, perceived failure or crisis and return to pre-crisis state.
How do I build it?
- Celebrate the small wins. No matter how small, make an effort to really appreciate them and condition yourself to start seeing more positive outcomes in life.
- Create reference points. You are a walking, talking embodiment of resilience. Always remember that. Whatever adversity you have gone through, create a reference point for future adversity. Adopt the ‘I did it before, I can do it again’ mindset.
- Face your fears. Whatever the fear, to overcome it you have to expose yourself to it, little by little. To build bounceback, you have to slowly dip your toe into the waters and normalise your fears.
- Change the narrative and reframe. If you encounter tough situations, try to reframe that situation. Look for growth opportunities and ways to shift the overall outcome from negative to positive.
- Be realistic. When setting targets, goals and aspirations, try to be ambitious but realistic. If you overstretch your current abilities, you may be setting yourself up for failure and negative reinforcement.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict.
How does it help me?
- Self-awareness. You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior. You know your strengths and weaknesses and have self-confidence.
- Self-management. You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviours, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness. You have empathy. You understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management. You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team and manage conflict
How do I build it?
- Observe how you react to people.
- Examine how you react in situations. Realise, identify and review.
- Examine how your actions could affect others before taking action.
- Examine how various life environments make you feel.
- Take responsibility for your actions.
A habit is a routine of behaviour that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously. It is more or less a fixed way of thinking or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.
How do I build good habits?
- Look for cues that trigger a habit.
- Identify your routine. What do you usually do when presented with this specific cue? What would you like to change?
- Reward better choices. Provide positive reinforcement for a desired behavior, making it more likely that you will produce that behavior again in the future, thus building a good habit!
Contrary to popular belief, believing in yourself is a necessary and very powerful ability to have. This is your belief in your own ability to take on new tasks and experiences and complete them. It is your belief in your own self-image.
How do I build it?
- Look to understand your current belief system and whether or not it is serving you in a positive way.
- If not, ask yourself: are those negative beliefs backed by fact? Often, they are not and negative beliefs lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. Use solid facts to overcome these mental hurdles.
Vulnerability is the process of cultivating positive emotions to enhance your experiences and performance and learnings in life.
How do I build it?
- Vulnerability isn't about being perfect, it's about showing up! Be your best, not perfect.
- Ask yourself: am I showing up for myself? What could I do to show up for myself? What conscious action could I take that will allow me to take one step forward?
- Dare to be yourself. Your struggles are relative, don’t hide them. Hiding them because they aren’t as bad as someone else’s will only make your life worse. Verbalise it, normalise that you may have hardship, figure out how it is affecting you and what you could do to positively influence it.
- It’s ok to not be ok. You have to face vulnerability with openness and non-judgement. Not being or feeling 100% is a normal part of life. Accept it and move forward.
By making yourself more aware of these pillars, examining how they manifest in your life and implementing them in your day, you can create a sense of control and direction for yourself, like the pool bringing structure to the chaos of water. Bring your own individual structure to the chaos of life, helping you live more efficiently, happier and in line with your best self.
For more great life advice and tools for mental wellbeing, check out Sana’s podcast The WildCast. You can get in touch with him via his personal Instagram @sana_govender or follow along with his performance coaching @wildculture._