self help



How Do We Build Resilience?

By Justin Palazzo-Orr

More and more organisations are finding the need for resilience development programs for their staff. What is resilience? Who can be resilient? How do we develop resilience?


What is resilience?

The Oxford dictionary describes resilience as ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.’[i] You can think of resilience like a fruit tree’s ability to blossom and fruit after a long winter.


Who has the capacity to be resilient?

The truth is, if you are reading this, you are already resilient. You have had the resilience to get through all of the challenges that life has thrown at you to this point. We all have the capacity to be resilient and to build on our existing resilience.


How do we build our resilience?  

Thinking about our fruit tree mentioned earlier there are a few steps to developing resilience.

The first step is knowing that winter is coming. Just as winter comes every year, challenging times are inevitable, and that’s ok. The most resilient people are those who expect and adapt to change and challenging times. In their book Great by Choice, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen use the term “productive paranoia.”[ii] The idea of being productively paranoid is to be prepared for challenging times and balancing that preparedness with being a fully functioning individual.


Ensure our fruit tree is well fed, watered and has some slow release fertiliser. Be sure to use the good times to build up your internal and external resources. There are a variety of resources which can help you get through challenging times. One of the most commonly suggested is building up your social networks. Build an orchard around you to help you get through the winter.


The next important step is the pruning. Ridding our lives of branches which are not going to contribute to supporting us through the winter, flower in spring, or fruit in summer means we save our valuable resources for those which will. The pruning phase can create discomfort but has the double advantage of providing us with more resources to face challenging times and, being a challenging event itself, will add to our resilience.  


Now you are prepared, you’ve built up your resources and stripped away parts of your life which will work against you, you are ready for winter. The first step in making it through the winter is remembering that it will pass. The mantra ‘this too shall pass’ is not just a cliché but a helpful fact to remember. Each day you get through is one day closer to spring. The next step is to tap into the resources you have built up in the good times. Use as many resources as you need to, but as few as you can get away with.


Once winter has passed, take the time to reflect on the challenge you have just made it through. Think about a challenging time which you have been through. How did you contribute to successfully making it through the challenge? Resilient people tend to take ownership of their own good fortune.[iii]


Just as the seasons come and go, so do our challenges. After we have made it through one challenge, and we have taken the time to reflect on it, we need to replenish our resources and begin to prepare for next winter.


APRG offers tailored Resilience Development Programs which can be delivered over a full day or as a series of workshops.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to your mental health, you should discuss them with your health professional.

Please call 07 3231 6500 to speak with Justin about the APRG Resilience Program and how you can strengthen your orchard.



[i] (Oxford University Press, 2018)

[ii] (Collins & Hansen, 2011)

[iii] (Seligman, 2006)

How To Make 2018 Your Best Year Yet

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"The secret to getting ahead is getting started".

- Mark Twain, author

January 1st heralded the beginning of a brand new year and a new beginning where we turned from what was and prepared to lean into what could be. There will be many who reflected on 2017 and immediately put it behind them as yet another year of dreams unfulfilled and goals not realised. There are others who basked in the success of a spectacular year breathing in the heady scent of achievement wrapped in an aura of fame, gain and accomplishment.

Which one are you?

New year’s eve has come and gone and, if the Huffington Post is to be believed, 92% of new year’s resolutions will already have fallen by the wayside.

That doesn’t mean you can’t hit the reset button and still fulfil the promise to yourself that 2018 will be different. And it can be when you unleash the power of goal setting to help make this Year your best year.

What will make 2018 outstanding for you?

Deciding what it is you actually want can be the hardest part of goal setting simply because we let the ‘hows’ get in the way of the ‘whats’. Too often we can’t see how something can be achieved so we put what we want to one side as being unachievable.

To get clear on what you want, imagine for a moment that you have in your possession, a magic wand.  If you were to wave a magic wand and everything was exactly as you want it to be on 31st December 2018, how would it be? What would you be seeing, hearing, feeling, experiencing in your perfect world?

What will it take for your life to be fearlessly easier, better and more fulfilling?

Write this down in as much detail as possible. This is your plan for 2018.

To enjoy a balanced approach to life, experiencing success across the board, set goals in all areas of your life; three goals per area is ideal although there is no limit, set as many as works for you.

Key life areas:

1.       Finance

2.       Career

3.       Family

4.       Health and Well-being

5.       Relationships

6.       Personal Growth

7.       Home Environment

8.       Community Contribution

Meaningful goals are SMART goals; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

The more specific you are with your goals the greater the chance you will achieve your desired outcomes. For example, a goal to have more money is too vague. If I hand you $5, you now have more money. Was that what you wanted? No? Having an additional $25K in your bank account tomorrow may be measurable but not perhaps achievable or realistic. The more clearly defined the goal, the better.

Specific:   What it is you want? Why it is important? Why do you want it? Is anyone else involved and if so, who? What requirements and constraints, if any, apply? 

Measurable:   How will you know when you have achieved it? 

Actions:   What are the steps required to achieve your goal? Make the steps small and easy. 

Realistic:   What will you need to do/learn/find out to achieve each step? Is your goal aligned with where you are headed in life?

Timely:   When? Set a deadline for the completion of your goal and to celebrate. This will keep you motivated and moving.

It’s very liberating to make the decision to live life on your terms, take charge of your direction and step boldly forward to make your life whatever you want it to be.

If you want to do something different in 2018, then make it this. Decide what you want, set the goals to get you there and then take massive action.

The future is yours.