We all go through a major change process at some point in our lives, and dealing with constant change is something we all know and often have to use in our daily lives. But when it comes to the changing climate in today’s society with the global economic crisis, rapid technological advancements and climate change, we need to leave more room for flexibility and build our resilience.
The Difficulty of Change
From the moment we’re born, we must learn to deal with change and adaptation.
As we grow, we learn our own process of change and become better and better at adapting to a new situation. When we enter the workforce, we all experience organizational change and change management in the workplace. Our adaptability skills and resistance are constantly in demand.
Sometimes an Unexpected Change Comes Our Way
We don’t always have the strength to keep a positive attitude and find a new way to overcome difficulties and develop enough resilience.
Especially as we get older, we’re less resilient when going through changing circumstances.
There’s also more at stake, for example, it’s easier to change jobs in your twenties than in your forties because you don’t have to make as many difficult decisions in your twenties, such as “Will I be able to pay for my child’s school or save enough for retirement?”
Humans Adapt to Change by Nature, but That Doesn’t Mean It’s Easy
Learning to adapt to change is a difficulty mainly because we’ve no other choice. In our daily lives, we’re used to doing things in many different ways, whether it’s dealing with customers, talking to a person in a business setting, or in an ever-changing situation at home because your family is also constantly evolving.
Significant change is different because it brings uncertainty and therefore difficult decisions. This is what unsettles us, especially when we experience unexpected unpleasant situations, such as the loss of our job or a change initiative by a family member that we cannot control.
An unexpected change can also be joyful (e.g. pregnancy) and you can be happy about what’s happening, or you can feel stress and anxiety – either way, dealing with change is a skill you can learn.
It’s important to know how you’re feeling right now – not only to find out what kind of support or help you need during the transition, but also to determine if your feelings are preventing you from embracing and managing change.
Maybe it will be a successful change, maybe it won’t, but either way this new situation has been thrust upon you, and the best thing you can do is to try to think of a positive outcome.
Of course, there are unexpected unpleasant situations, such as the loss of a loved one. Sometimes an unexpected change is a part of life.
Accepting that things don’t always go according to plan – and acknowledging that sometimes life isn’t always fair – can help us deal with the situations that come up without being blindsided by them when they do (which, unfortunately, is most of the time). When things go wrong one way or another, accepting the situation rather than denying it helps us better adjust our expectations for the future, which is the first step in managing change.
Changes in Our Personal Lives and in the Workplace
Why is adapting to change difficult?
Managing change can be difficult because we’ve become accustomed to the way things are.
Any change means we have to step out of our comfort zone and learn to adapt to a new environment. Although frustrating, there are many benefits to adapting to change.
Here are some examples of changes we experience in our personal lives:
- Changes at home – For example, your partner’s work hours no longer fit yours. The good thing is that you’ve more free time for yourself!
- Changes at your workplace – For example organizational change management. It’s not personal and maybe you can learn something from it and you could start learning effective communication to adapt to the new situation.
- Family matters Your parents’ divorce or the death of a loved one – These changes can bring stress, and sadness, but it’s a process of change that everyone must go through. Everyone has different ways of dealing with grief and resilience. Talk to the people you trust. Someone can give you good advice, and friends can be more surprising and supportive than you might think.
- A move or a new job – A fresh start can help us grow and meet new people.
- Changes that affect all of us on this planet – Pandemics, economic crises, and climate change – In today’s world, many changes are beyond our control. If you educate yourself about these issues, you may find ways to be useful to the planet.
We Can All Work Together to Improve Our Lives by Adapting to Change
There are some changes that are inevitable. They may be good, bad, or neutral, but you can’t avoid their impact on your life. So don’t even try to fight them. Try to accept them. Neutralize them instead by focusing on the things you can control and refusing to let the change affect your peace of mind and daily life as much as possible. In other words: Control what you can control.
Types of Inevitable Changes
- Climate change
- Changes in the family you cannot control
- Age also plays an important role in change, and the older you get, the more resilient you’re when faced with change.
- Some changes are directly related to the consequences of past behaviors, such as getting fired for being late to work too often, or getting divorced for repeatedly arguing with your partner.
To Get Better at Changing
Everyone deals with change differently and I can only speak from my personal experiences. Here are some of the things that have worked for me:
- Start with small changes.
- Focus on your strengths.
- Work on your weaknesses.
- Build a supportive network.
- Practice gratitude every day.
- Don’t run away from challenging situations that are inevitable.
- Don’t focus on the end goal all the time (instead, focus on the journey).
- Focus on one goal at a time.
I think that one of the reasons it’s difficult to adapt to change is that people tend to focus too much on the end goal without celebrating the small progress along the way.
Let’s say you’re learning a new language and your goal is to become fluent in it within a year. You attend classes and study diligently at home, but you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. This can lead to frustration and self-doubt. Instead of just focusing on being fluent in a year, look at what you accomplished today or this week.
- Did you learn some new vocabulary?
- Did you practice speaking to someone?
- Did an old word come back to you when you needed it?
Celebrate those successes! When you’re learning something new, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come because you’re so focused on where you want to be in the future.
The best way to more easily adapt to change is to realign our thinking and focus not only on what we want for our future, but also on how far we’ve come in achieving those goals – one day at a time!
Practice adaptabiPractice Adaptability With Small Changes
Start small. If we try to change too many things at once, it’s overwhelming and we’re more likely to fail. It’s better to focus on changing one thing at a time and make bigger changes as our confidence grows.
Focus on the Process, Not the Outcome
A big reason people get frustrated when they change is that they don’t see results right away – the end result takes time. So instead of getting hung up on the fact that you’ve to reach your goal in some magical amount of time, focus on what you’re doing right now. This will make the process easier and more fun!
Try Something New Every Day
Whether it’s a new dish at your favorite restaurant or a new route to take home from work, adding variety to your life can help you exercise your adaptability without much effort.
Focus on Your Strengths and Take the Opportunity to Work on Your Weaknesses
[It’s often better to adapt to things than to try to eliminate the source of discomfort. Being able to deal with change is one of the skills you’ll use again and again throughout your life. It’s good to have a stockpile of things that will cause you to stress in case you need them later. But if you try to fight it every time, it’ll feel like work and probably lead to more trouble than comfort. A good approach to most situations is to just be patient and get through each moment as best you can – and then move on to the next moment when it comes.
Work on Your Coping Mechanisms
In the end, we all know that the only way to deal with change is to embrace it. As the old saying goes, “Act like you can handle it.”
Try to Build a Supportive Network of People Around You
Try to build a supportive network of people around you. Some people are naturally resilient and recover easily from setbacks. Others find it difficult to adapt. Research shows that people who’ve strong relationships with others are more able to bounce back from difficult times.
Social support can be as simple as talking over tea with a friend or as complex as therapy sessions and support groups. Supportive parents, siblings, partners, colleagues, friends and neighbors play an important role in helping us get through difficult times – especially when loved ones help us see unpleasant events in a positive light.
A supportive environment is also critical to children’s development. Research has shown that stable and safe experiences in childhood help people become more resilient later in life by boosting their immune systems and lowering their risk for mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
Find Ways to Be Grateful for the Good Things in Your Life, Despite the Difficulties You Face
Thank the people around you. Acknowledge those who do things for you and show your appreciation when they go the extra mile to help you – we all have busy lives and easily forget how rewarding it can be to make someone else’s life a little easier.
Notice the Good Things
There are many unpleasant moments in life, but if we only think about those negative experiences, we lose sight of the positive ones. Make an effort to learn something new from every situation, no matter how bad it’s, and see what unexpected happiness you can find!
Be grateful for what you have now, rather than focusing on what could be better or different about you or life in general.”
Don’t avoid challenging situations and conversations just because they make you uncomfortable or fearful. Rather, embrace all those fears and feelings.
The only way to make a big change (the kind of change that will get you from where you’re now to where you want to be) is to take risks. If you take the risk, there’s a chance you’ll look foolish, fail, succeed, and be confronted with the unknown.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. But it’s also necessary if you want to change your life.
Change Is Hard, but Learning to Adapt Will Help You Succeed and Prepare You for What Might Come Next!
Change is hard, but it can also be rewarding. If you learn to be adaptable, you can succeed at any challenge and prepare for what might come next! Some of the most successful people in the world were able to master change because they were adaptable. The greater the changes they went through, the greater the results they achieved.
Life Is Full of Surprises, Be Open-Minded
The first step to becoming more adaptable is to understand that life is full of surprises and that you must learn to deal with them. There are times when things don’t go as planned, but being adaptable doesn’t mean you give up on your goals or dreams. It just means you’ve to be flexible and open-minded.
Stay Open to New Things
If you hold on to old ideas and ways of doing things, you’ll have a hard time changing. If you stay open, you can look at the situation differently and it may not seem so scary anymore! You’ll also find that there are other possibilities waiting for you if you just allow those doors to open instead of holding on to one place.