We have all heard that we live in a fast paced and ever changing world. Some refer to today's environment as a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). This is evident more than ever this year with the global pandemic of Covid-19 changing so many aspects of daily life everywhere. While we are doing well at this time, many others are not.
But unfortunately, our build plans have also been impacted by the pandemic. We expected to receive our building permits in March and now we are in mid-August of 2020 and still waiting. When things started to get delayed, uncertainty and second guessing crept into our heads. We started questioning whether we are doing the right thing by building a new house. Can we still afford it? How will the real estate market develop? What if we cannot sell our current house? What will interest rates look like? Should we try and pull out of our home build project?
Adversity strikes in many different ways, with small or large impacts, and we need to deal with its consequences. But how does one deal with setbacks and obstacles in today's world?
All of us need to find resilience in a lot of different aspects of our own lives. We thought it would be valuable to share some of what we have learned and uncovered over the past few months.
In our research for this post, we actually found out that resilience is not something you are born with, but rather something that you learn through life lessons or teachings. This is definitely good news for anyone that naturally feels more anxious, stressed or threatened because resilience can be trained.
The second piece of good news is that resilience lies within ourselves, so it is something that you can attain or improve on by working on your very own self-improvement. In some way this is like DIY for your state of mind.
One thing we all need to realize is that change and adversity are part of the rhythm of life. There is no way around them and life will always find a way to throw you a curve ball. Our capacity for change essentially determines our level of resilience.
If we accept this as a truth, we can actually work on how we perceive adversity. The most resilient minds will see adversity as a challenge that is to be overcome. Depending on your personal situation and state of mind, your initial perception may be different. You may instead refer to adversity as a crisis or an insurmountable problem.
This is where personal reflection and self-management come in. Instead of being paralyzed by our circumstances, we need to face the facts of reality. Adversity is real and we need to acknowledge it. Denying the facts of reality or ignoring them does not help our circumstances. Having good self-awareness helps. More so, making time to check in with yourself is crucial. People use many different forms of reflection, with meditation being the most purposeful of such forms. Whatever works for you is great!
The sense that drives resilient people forward from this point is their commitment and motivation to strong values or certain goals. This is an important point, because a resilient mind sees the big picture. It's all about perspective. Is the adversity you are facing right now really going to stop you from following your core values or achieving your goals?
A resilient person will see adversity as a temporary setback instead of being a permanent barrier. It will go away, or better, it can be overcome. Additionally, adversity typically impacts just one aspect of your entire life. If you face adversity at work, will you let it impact your personal life or will you be resilient enough to manage yourself and see adversity in your work environment only?
With the big picture and ultimate goal in mind, this is where things really start to turn around.
Resilient people generally have a positive or at least hopeful outlook on life. This may not necessarily mean that they are always happy or upbeat. It can manifest itself for example by
reacting less shocked when hearing about change events,
savoring moments of joy,
having strong relationships.
The glass does not need to always be half full, but what's in it is valuable.
Essentially, a resilient mind tells itself: "Adversity can be overcome and you are not a victim of your circumstances." Instead, as a resilient person, you will ask yourself: "What can I do? How can I take charge? What can I control here?"
Now the tables have turned and we are taking on a course of idea exploration, facing the challenges and being courageous. This is where we show our adaptability.
A healthy dose of confidence that we are on the right track, that our actions will move us forward and that adversity is just a setback on our way to our ultimate goals is the mindset we want to adopt as a resilient person.
At this stage, having the desire to take matters into your own hands and figuring things out for yourself is great.
It also helps having a strong support network that you can draw on when you really need it. This comes back to your relationships with others. You don't need a lot of relationships (or followers on Twitter) but you need relationships that are strong bonds.
Beyond the strong mind, there are articles saying that it helps having a rested body. This means getting enough sleep and being healthy and fit (by exercising and having a healthy lifestyle) as this will promote your ability to become more resilient.
Seeing the facts as they are and reflecting on what is truly important enables our ability to deal with change and adversity and develop solutions for moving us forward. That doesn't mean you will have all the answers right away or that your solutions work out as planned. There will be further setbacks along the way, but it is important to have a hopeful outlook and stay determined that you will find a way.
Where does this leave us and how did we even come up to write about resilience?
Well, our own doubts and questions made us uncertain about our future and especially the financial viability of our home construction adventure.
And let's be real here. We are extremely fortunate at this time that both of us could maintain our full time jobs and income and that our lives did not get impacted any harder. This we are very thankful for!
After the realization set in that our construction start would be delayed indefinitely and we had thought through the main questions and concerns, we decided to still go ahead with following the path to our dream home. We could have decided to just let things be and wait, trusting that over time everything will work itself out somehow, sort of being passengers on this journey. But instead, we decided that there were actions we could take in the meantime and be active partners taking charge of what we could control.
What have we done over the past few months?
Restructured the deal with our builder with benefits on both sides
Used the idle time to clarify and optimize the house plans
Continued asking any and all questions that we could (e.g. for renewable energy options, energy efficiency certifications or different types of finishes)
Continued learning (e.g. ongoing real estate course, passive house requirements and processes, building code and local by-laws, etc.)
Started our website and blog
Interestingly enough, the whole evolution from disappointment and doubt to following our dream and pushing forward has actually made us talk through the different issues a lot more as a couple. In fact, it has made our own relationship stronger because we learned more about ourselves individually and got to appreciate the strengths (and weaknesses) of our partner.
We definitely feel that we are making the most of our time to advance our project and be better equipped for the construction process ahead. And very soon it will be time for shovels to hit dirt and get this house started...