Resilience Can Make You a Happier Federal Employee

It can be hard to recognize because it requires playing the long game, doing hard work over a lengthy time period.

It often feels like a skill we know when we see it, which makes it difficult to learn and practice. But it can lead to greater happiness because it gives you a toolkit to deal when life gets tough.

Recently, I had a particularly difficult week both personally and professionally. At the end of the week, feeling I could bear no more, I broke down. I spent the next few days reflecting upon resilience and happiness. I realized that, by virtue of the challenges of being in government these days, we must strive to be resilient in order to be happy and successful at work.

Reframe Your Thought Process by Focusing on Resilience

Reframe the way you view and handle situations in your everyday life. It sounds cheesy to say, but there is truth to the idea that you will be more resilient if you often think about being more resilient.

Focusing on resiliency will help you reframe the way you see obstacles. Didn’t get that job at another agency that you wanted and worked incredibly hard to get? You could seek to blame someone else or mope because there is nothing you can do to change the outcome. Instead you might see it as an opportunity to prepare differently, or do a better job networking, or maybe pursue a different, more suitable opportunity in the future. What was a negative and sad experience, becomes a positive and perhaps even happy experience when viewed from a resilient frame of mind.

Gain Some Control to Find Your Resilient Self

Happiness can come from feeling in control of parts of your life - your time, your space, your work, your activities, etc. You probably cannot have complete control over everything at your agency or in your department. Decisions are often made “above your pay grade” and sometimes we are asked to complete tasks we would rather not. What you usually do have some control over is how you complete that work or if you are lucky enough to telework, where you complete that work. Finding places where you can make take control of decision-making will help you be more resilient when dealing with tasks that are particularly unpleasant.

Let the Unimportant Go When You Can to Make Space for What Matters

We all know those things in our daily lives that just do not matter to us for one reason or another and yet eat up so much time each week. Similarly, there are many tasks at work that take a great deal of time but provide little in the way of returns, either to your state of wellbeing or to your job performance. Letting go of the unimportant elements of daily work-life where you can, you will reduce stress and be better equipped to resiliently overcome difficulties when it really matters.

Being resilient is ultimately about persevering no matter the obstacle. By reframing how you view challenges, finding control where you can, and preventing the unimportant from cluttering your life, you will learn to be more resilient and maybe just a little happier too.


Elizabeth Fischer Laurie is the Chief Financial Officer with many years of experience on the YGL National Leadership Team in various roles. During the day, she works as an Attorney Advisor for the Department of Health and Human Services, Departmental Appeals Board, Civil Remedies Division. In this role, she focuses on day-to-day operations of the division and leading attorneys in assisting Administrative Law Judges with requests for hearing.







Posted in Young Gov

Tags: Young Government Leaders



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