Doing This One Thing Each Night Will Make You More Resilient

March 12, 2018

It's what Sheryl Sandberg does each night to build resilience within herself.

Sheryl Sandberg found a nighttime routine that built up her resilience.

After the unexpected death of her husband, she began writing down three things she did well that day before she went to bed. It didn’t have to be a big thing: ran a successful meeting. Listened, when her instinct was to talk. Said something kind to another.

Sounds simple. But the results were game-changing.

“It is transformative,” Sandberg said. “I don’t think I realized how much time I spent beating myself up for things that went wrong, rather than focusing on the things that went well.”

Why Sheryl does this

In her book Option B, which has been translated into a free LinkedIn Learning course on resiliency, Sandberg said she struggled with self-confidence throughout her career. But, she managed to build up her confidence over time with the success of her book Lean In and helping other women break the glass ceiling – only for it to come crashing down after her husband Dave Goldberg’s unexpectedly died in 2015.

In the months after Goldberg’s death, Sandberg’s confidence was shot. Psychologist and Option B co-author Adam Grant noticed and told her the only way she’d build it back up again was by adopting self-compassion – which means approaching yourself with the same kindness and understanding you’d show to a friend.

Part of that is highlighting wins, instead of losses – much like you would accent a friend’s strengths, as opposed to picking out all their weaknesses. And one tactic for doing that is journaling each night three things you do well, instead of what focusing on what you failed at.

Sandberg took the advice in the months after her husband’s death and is forever grateful for it.

How this applies to you

Perhaps you haven't gone through a tragic loss like Sandberg did. But the technique isn't just for people going through hardship, it can apply to anyone.

I'll take myself as an example. Before I go to bed each night, I too focus on everything I did wrong that day, while rarely giving myself credit for anything that went right.

All this does is make small struggles bigger, erode my confidence and lower my resilience.

I’d never treat anybody else this way. And that’s Grant’s whole point: we focus so much on building great relationships with others, and yet we often form terrible relationships with ourselves.

Maybe this is a foreign idea, and you go to bed each night thinking of all the great stuff you did. But, if that’s not the case, perhaps it’s time for a change – and to take time to write out what you did well, instead of what you did wrong.

According to Sandberg, that simple action will build your resilience, increase your happiness and ultimately make you happier. And it takes all of five minutes.

Seems worth trying.

What's the biggest work struggle you overcame – and what did you learn from it? Post your answer on LinkedIn with the hashtag #ResiliencyAtWork.

And learn how to grow more resilient yourself with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant's free LinkedIn Learning course on the importance of resilience.