Personal Resiliency- How I Build Mine…

Posted on February 18, 2020

Colorado Scenery

This Morning Buzz is from Susan Barkman, Council/Mayor Management Analyst with the City of Aurora Colorado.

What I am reading: The news.

What I am listening to: Bluebird by Miranda Lambert

What I am working on: office policies!

We all experience challenges in life, and sometimes we get knocked down.  Bouncing back from our bad days, tough moments and everyday setbacks is largely defined by our resiliency.  An older thought on resilience is that some people have it while others don’t, but another thought is that you have to work to build resiliency.  When your resilience is low you don’t bounce back quite as well. Over my career I have become a believer in building resiliency and really worked to be mindful of how I am building mine.

Previously I worked in a job that wasn’t a good fit for me, so every day was a challenge because my resilience was low. This all led to some pretty unhealthy behaviors.   During this part of my career, a lot of my identity was wrapped up in my job.  In order to fix this issue, I had to make my peace with the fact that my job wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but I needed to pay bills and I knew I needed some changes.  As I started evaluating the opportunities for change, I knew I needed to build resilience, and these are a few things that helped a lot.

  • After college I stayed in my college town because I had a job there while a lot of my friends moved away. I knew I needed to connect with people in the community where I lived so I started volunteering one day a month at my local food bank. Eventually I went on to join the board of trustees and spent the last 3 years serving the organization.
  • I hiked a lot. I found a place to go that I could go for about 3 miles every day after work on the way home and I spent at least one day each weekend in the mountains. Hiking helped me process through challenges and led to my photography hobby.
  • When I was in this job, I never felt like I was using my degree that much, and that was hard because I paid a lot for it. So I found a way to feel like I was using my degree a little more by joining the Planning and Zoning Commission. I also utilized the tuition benefit program to further my education.  Grad school was hard and sometimes also very draining, but it helped me find more connections, and keep me thinking about the future.

As I started working in local government, I needed different things so my strategies have changed. My new job working with council members means there are new challenges, there are long days and more than ever I need to bounce back. I have been thinking more about how my changing needs and available time are affecting my resiliency.  Here is what I am doing now…

  • Serving on the board of trustees and the Planning and Zoning Commission have both been incredible honors and helped me grow in a lot of new ways. My term as a trustee was up and I opted to not seek reappointment. Making this choice meant I had more time for some other new things that I want to do.  I also plan to step back from the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2 years when my term is up in 2 years.
  • Last year, on a whim I decided to plan a vacation to Yellowstone National Park. This kicked off a fun life goal to visit all of the national parks, so I am always planning some fun camping trips to national parks and looking for new options.  (Seriously, I was so close to visiting Crater Lake National Park after ELGL2020.)  This also helps my keep my photography hobby going and growing my skills.
  • I am focusing on my friendships. As an introvert I don’t have the largest circle of friends, but I do have some really close friends. I am pretty intentional about making time for them regularly. I have one friend that I hike with, another that I get pedicures with, and another that finds the best restaurants.
  • My neighbors might also tell you that I often turn up my music and listen to the songs that make me smile.

Building your resiliency can take some time and changes as your life changes.  Please share how you build your resiliency to avoid burn out personally but also how you support staff in building theirs.

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