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Everyday Resiliency in Times of Uncertainty

- Posted: May 14, 2020

The events of the first months of 2020 have been an incredible test of our resilience. Our existence has been stripped down to the essentials. We are navigating a global fight to protect and manage our health and wellness. This global crisis will change the world forever, and each of us will inevitably be transformed by the experience. 

The need to build our capacity for change means that managing competing demands and stress is more important than ever. In my closing keynote at the 23rd Annual Snow & Ice Symposium, I will present my work on resiliency and how it applies to you both professionally and personally.


Will you give up or get up?

I will share the five core competencies that contribute to a person’s capacity for resiliency. This information helps people to understand the origins of personal resiliency, and explains why some people give up when faced with a challenge or setback while others get up. 

There is a fundamental difference between giving up and getting up. Interestingly, the difference does not lie in our biology or our DNA. It can be taught, fostered and learned. We can teach people how to face adversity head-on. We can teach people strategies and tactical approaches that will support them as they navigate challenging events. These practices will ultimately lead to people being stronger on the other side. The goal of resiliency is to be fundamentally OK during and after a crisis. My aim is to get people to this place of enacted resiliency through wellness.


Tools for resiliency

Based on behavioral sciences, we can develop personal and professional tools and practices that foster the everyday resiliency that seems elusive to so many. For example, there are a million ways to improve your wellness, but research demonstrates that few people actually implement and maintain these practices. 

What do resilient people do differently than others? Here is one example: Resilient people know the importance of winning their mornings and closing their days. Winning your morning is the practice of adopting a daily routine that sets your day on a positive trajectory. It is the practice and discipline of doing what you need to get done in the morning so that when you show up at work, you are prepared, already accomplished and motivated to be productive and purpose-filled. Closing your day is a ritual you develop and practice that closes your day with intention; it prepares your body and mind for rest and renewal. 

These small micro-behaviors produce significant improvements in a person’s capacity to be resilient. These ideas may not be radical but are so practical and sustainable that they can yield unparalleled gains. 

Another characteristic of resiliency is a person’s ability to practice and implement expectation management. When do you get stressed out the most? It usually is when your expectations don’t match what you need in that moment. For example, you are asked to complete a task and are told it should take only a few minutes. You start working on it and realize it’s a lot more work than you were told. Stress builds. We become distressed. Resiliency decreases. Being aware and keeping your expectations in check is part of having a resilient perspective. 

During the keynote, I will describe how my Resiliency Trajectory Model can serve as a tool for seeing resiliency in action. The next time you are faced with a challenge, you will be able to plot the event on this model and see how to best respond. 

I am really excited to share all of this work with you. Together we will ensure that you and your teams will be well equipped to practice the everyday resiliency we all need — now more than ever.

Dr. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe is an award-winning psychology and education instructor who specializes in resiliency, navigating stress and change and personal wellness in the workplace. She is the closing keynote speaker for the 23rd Annual Snow & Ice Symposium. Learn more at
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