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How to Be More Adaptable to Change

Charles Darwin once said, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” And let’s face it: throughout life, change is inevitable. When you’re faced with change, you can either fight it or choose to embrace it.

Think back to the transition from middle to high school, moving out of your parent's house, and going through your first break up. All of these experiences were new and scary, but you made it to the other side. It’s during these moments that you grow the most and become a stronger and better version of yourself.

Oftentimes, change is thrust upon you, even if you aren’t ready for it. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but the better you can adapt, the sooner you will unleash your potential.

Looking to strengthen your adaptability muscle? Check out these five simple yet effective techniques:

  1. Stop black and white thinking

Do you tend to label things as right or wrong? Good or bad?

Being “sure” gives us a sense of safety, so it’s natural to want seek certainty. This is why many people unconsciously look for ways to strengthen their beliefs rather than being open-minded to new ways of thought.

In these fast-moving and unpredictable times, it’s a problem to tie your sense of safety to one pattern of thought. Because when things don’t go according to plan, it will throw you for a loop.

Adaptability is a must-have skill in order to move past challenging situations.

  1. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes

As it turns out, research shows making mistakes is actually a good thing.

According to Harvard Business Review, “research shows that executives who apply a conventional, systematic approach to solving a pattern recognition problem are often slower to find the solution than those who test their assumptions by knowingly making mistakes.”

A fear failure of failure stops you from challenging yourself, taking risks and tapping into your full potential.

  1. Adopt a learning mentality

It’s okay to admit it when you don’t know something. If you don’t ask questions, how do you expect to learn and grow? When you can make this mental shift, you will be able to cope with challenges as they arise and navigate change more effectively.

For example, let’s say you post an article on Facebook and someone comments with a correction. Instead of getting defensive, you can thank them for the new information.

Studies prove it. A growth mindset improves achievement.

Success is less about what you know and more about how well you can learn and refine your skills. It’s how hard you work, your willingness to expand your thinking and push your intellectual limits.

  1. Embrace a state of “becoming”

In Michelle Obama’s bestseller Becoming, she explains how we are constantly unfolding into more of our authentic selves. It’s a process that’s ongoing. In other words, we are all works in progress and rather than fight change, we need to embrace the ebbs and flows of life.

The former First Lady writes, “even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have.”   

In order to embrace a state of “becoming” you need to embrace vulnerability. This means letting your guard down and showing who you really are. We’re all afraid of being judged and getting rejected, but if you don’t take a leap of faith you’ll never be able to reach your full potential and become who you are meant to be.

Most importantly, it’s okay to admit you don’t have it all together. You’re only human! When you feel the self-doubt setting it, remember that you’re on a journey of self-discovery and don’t be so hard on yourself.

  1. Let go of your need to be right

Are you open-minded to diverse perspectives? Do you invite open and honest feedback from others? If you have a need to be “right”, you’ll hinder your personal and professional growth. By welcoming new insights, and opening yourself to being wrong you will actually become smarter.

In fact, you become smarter through trial and error. Intelligence grows through effort.

“When you make a mistake or receive critical feedback, don't panic,” says Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. “Think of it as an opportunity for learning, and remember that the process of ‘failing’ -- when you're willing to pay attention -- is often what leads to the greatest successes.”

Being adaptable to change allows you to effectively handle problems as they arise and adjust your strategy accordingly. Sometimes things will go according to plan, sometimes they won’t. And when they don’t, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.

Adaptability is a skill we should all strive for. Once we can master it, we will stress less and enjoy life more!

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