Goal Setting Builds Resilience

Being resilient is a belief in the 3 P’s (Personalization, Permanence, and Pervasiveness) for managing upset. This concept comes from Dr. Martin Seligman and it is a reminder that:

  1. in the midst of our adversity that while it involves us, it is not necessarily because of us (personalization),
  2. that the feeling of grief/ challenge/ crisis is not forever (permanence),
  3. nor does it have to impact every single area of our lives (pervasiveness).

Choosing to set goals in the midst of turmoil might seem like the last thing you want to do. Fair enough. You probably shouldn’t set a life-changing goal at this particular moment. Don’t decide to sell your home or change your career during a major upset (at least without careful progression). However, choosing the right SMART goal (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely) can actually assist your ability to remember the 3 P’s of Resilience. It might mean deciding to train for a triathlon after a break-up or take a language course after a loss. The what is less important than the why.

So, how does goal setting impact each of the three P’s?

Personalization:  Whether it is rational or not, challenge, crisis, and grief can bring up feelings of guilt or shame. What have we done wrong to deserve our particular fate? It can bring about periods of devaluation and wrestling with worthiness. By choosing a goal to commit to, we are investing (sometimes literally) in ourselves. We are making the choice to be worthy of a challenge. Even when we do have some ownership of our current challenge, choosing to invest time into a goal moves us past shame and towards grace and making amends.

Permanence: By definition, goals are future oriented. We are identifying a time in the future that we can orient ourselves to when our present adversity feels like it will be permanent. When I first became a runner, I would set my eyes on a goal just ahead of me–the crest of a hill, a stop sign barely visible two blocks away, the person several paces in front of me–so I could focus on where I was going more than the temporary discomfort of where I currently was. Planning a vacation or a visit with loved ones selects a place in time when we can feel happiness, relaxation or peace.

Pervasiveness: Years ago I remember talking to a friend who ran a 10k in the midst of her chemotherapy for breast cancer. Bald head shining as she ran she was radiant in the moment. I asked her if she ran the race so she could prove to cancer that it hadn’t defeated her. “Not exactly,” she replied. “If you notice, I am not wearing a stitch of pink or a single reference to cancer during this race. I did that on purpose. I ran this race because I have always loved to run and it has not one damn thing to do with my cancer. My cancer did not get an invitation to this race. I want there to be things in my life that my cancer doesn’t get to touch.” BOOM. I cannot say it any better than that. Your adversity does not have to seep into every part of you. Choose a goal to remind yourself of that beautiful fact!

If you are feeling stuck in your challenge and want to cultivate your resilience, I am here to help. Contact me here and let’s get this garden growing!


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