Do you dread change, or want to find a more productive way to experience life’s unexpected twists and turns? For many of us uncertainty and change can feel uncomfortable, but learning to become more adaptable can help with feelings of uneasiness.
How adaptable are you?
In the fast-paced, ever-changing world we live in, the need for adaptability has never been greater than it is now. A person who is adaptable has the ability to remain calm and move forward in the face of uncertainty — making them better able to handle change as and when it’ll arise.
By learning to ‘go with the flow’, not only will you handle change more effectively but you’ll embrace any challenges that come your way, and even turn them into opportunities.
Ways to be more adaptable
1. Accept the inevitable
Adaptable people embrace change and view it as positive, which makes them happier and more content because they’re not constantly putting themselves up to try and resist or struggle against the tide.
By accepting that uncertainty is the only certain thing, you put yourself in a better place to potentially look forward to what will come with every change and use it to your advantage.
When people hear that a change is going to happen they typically think of how it might make everything more difficult.
Instead, think of the positives — write out the top three things that the change will do to help you, your family or your workplace.
2. Be resourceful
Adaptable people are resourceful. They see roadblocks as opportunities and are able to think creatively to find solutions to problems.
Although it can be easy to crave the comfort and ease of the familiar, more often than not this can stop you from moving forward. It’s down to you to make the most of the situation you’re in — you can either be comfortable and stagnate, or stretch yourself and grow.
Use your initiative to consider what skills, strengths, and resources you can access to support you to move forward more easily.
3. See the bigger picture
Adaptable people are able to see the big picture. They have an awareness of the wider context and an understanding of how things can work out, and this empowers them to see the positive aspects of change.
Try not to get caught up in the moment and aim to look at change from a different perspective.
By thinking big, you’re less likely to fret over the details that won’t matter in the long run. What’s more, you’re able to see how an obstacle impacts the big picture and how you can turn that into an opportunity.
If you find it hard to identify the positives, start by noting down what you learn when things don’t go as planned. Writing them down sheds light on them and allows you to question the reality of your thoughts.
4. Ask questions
The curiosity that adaptable people foster brings about a greater awareness and understanding of a situation, which empowers them to adapt to change more effectively.
Go back to being the kid who couldn’t stop asking why. Don’t just accept what people say as true or false — instead, ask some questions and make your own decisions. Asking questions is a great way to learn more and challenge established ways of doing things, a key component of being adaptable.
Ask things like, “What will happen if…’, or ‘It might be interesting to see what happens if we do it this way, instead of the way we’ve always done it.”
5. Change the self-talk
Adaptable people tend to engage in positive self-talk. They tune out the debilitating critical inner voice in favour of a more proactive and positive one.
While it’s common to struggle with negative self-talk when things are changing around you, it is possible to remain optimistic, even when you don’t know where you’re going to end up — you’ve just got to believe you’ve always got a choice. You can choose which channel you tune into.
Self-compassion and supportive self-talk are really important around times of change, and they can be all the encouragement you need to leave the inner-critic behind and move forward when things are up in the air.
6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Adaptable people are not afraid of failure. They are able to view setbacks or failures as an opportunity to learn and grow.
No one’s perfect, and making mistakes is a very human and very real thing that will happen throughout your life. Even though it can be frustrating, it’s what you do after that counts, and this period will help you improve your adaptability skills.
Become willing to learn from your mistakes, be prepared to do it a different way, and ready to build resolve so you can provide positive energy for discovering something new and better.
7. Live in the present moment
Adaptable people are present, so they’re better able to deal with the situation as it is rather than as they think it should be.
Instead of worrying about the future, adopt a mindful approach that will help you focus on the here and now. Being in the present moment reduces stress and decreases its impact on your health, improving your ability to cope with negative emotions like fear and anger.
Find time to minimise stress by breathing deeply more often. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. Do the things that help you to rejuvenate. Exercise, eat healthy, and slow down.
More resilient than you first thought?
Despite the fact that change is inevitable, it still has the ability to take us by surprise. If you’re in no doubt that you can’t deal with change, look back on your life — what were you doing different 3, 5 years ago? Chances are, it was more different than you first thought.
Take some time to think about all the obstructions to your comfort and routine that you’ve previously overcome. This alone may serve as a simple reminder that you’ve got what it takes to navigate all those unexpected twists and turns that life can throw your way.