Resilience – Using a government shutdown to grow and improve.

Seems like most everybody is asking ‘What am I supposed to do if the government shuts down?’ Which translates into ‘Uuughph, this is going to interrupt my plans for [job execution, spring break, paying bills, financial security…. ]. One thing is sure, a government shutdown will create difficulties; and you can either struggle with the stress or use it as an opportunity for improvement.

It’s normal to have some feelings of anxiety and vulnerability associated with life’s difficulties. A key to turning this difficult experience into a positive one will be a person’s resilience – your ability to persevere and adapt when things go awry.

That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. ~~F. Nietzsche

Here are some ideas about increasing your resilience to the effects of a government shutdown*.

  • Optimism will help you more than pessimism. Tell yourself, “this is only temporary, it is just this one situation, I can do something about my predicament”.
  • Mental fitness – Recognize when negative thoughts are out of proportion to the reality of the situation’s direness. If you think it’s terrible, it will be terrible. Find opportunities to amplify positive emotions.
  • Maintain relationships. Now more than ever, we need to hold each other up with constructive support. Use this time to strengthen personal and community relationships.
  • How have you weathered life’s other difficulties? What strengths can you leverage for this situation? What’s the bigger picture? What opportunities are now available.

Here are other ideas from Gov Loopers:

*List inspired by April 2011, Harvard Business Review, Building Resilience, M. Seligman


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Andrew Krzmarzick

It’s hard to have this kind of perspective in the midst of a stressful situation…especially when money and family income is involved. Good in theory, but really tough in practice, eh?

Bottom line: there’s really only one thing we can control in these situations: our response.

Tarryn Reddy

I love the Nietzsche quote, it’s one of my favorites. It is a very fitting and positive quote in a very uncertain time.

Linda E. Kane

My spin on the Nietzsche quote is “that which doesn’t kill us, doesn’t kill us.” If you wake up on the right side of the dirt then you have everything and that is opportunity.

A group of us plan to “barter” –i.e., I’ll rework your resume if you will plant my shrubs or I’ll cater your daughter’s shower if you give me two days of “handyman services.” We need cash for some things but you can cut your absolute reliance on it by a lot. Share your talent for the common good.

Kerry Ann O'Connor

I would like to bottle this attitude! Can we gather together as a federal community and tell our stories? About our passion for service? I wrote up an idea about using our time off to response to the Partership for Public Services’ video Challenge in preparation for the May 1 Public Service Appreciate Week. See I Got Furlough Fever, and the Only Prescription is.. Who would like to collaborate with me?

Tom Worthington

Social networking can be useful to keep in touch with people when not in the workplace. This can be useful for preventing a feeling of isolation. Also, while the OPM Guidance and Information on Furlough OPM says employees cannot work as unpaid volunteers for the government, they can of course help non-government organisations.

ps: While you have some time, why not learn about how to run the government online. The Australian National University has kindly allowed me to distribute the notes for the course Electronic Document and Records Management.