By: Cordelia Bloom
“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”
– Dolly Parton
Before jumping right into the article, please enjoy this microfiction insert:
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write. The page right before this one was dated literally nine years ago. Why haven’t I been here more? I loved journaling. Note to self: thyself must be prioritized.
I’m currently going on possibly on the fourth day of an anxiety attack. I’m overwhelmed at capacity, severely stressed. Many, many changes are undergoing and since they’re beyond my control, my levels of anxiety have been on overdrive.
Does anybody else feel like this? Most times, I feel like it’s all in my head.
I’ll admit, it’s always been difficult for me to adapt to change. It puts me right over the edge and even though I should totally be used to it, I’m just not. And I’m not stupid—without change, there’s no growth. It’s not like I’d look forward to the sense of being stuck. There’s just great comfort in consistency, isn’t there? There’s a level of quiet in simply knowing or having a schedule, a to-do list, a plan… just order. All of those I can manage.
These are all my purest of thoughts. Anybody who has worked with me, or met me, or spent time with me would probably never believe that I am the most anti-chameleon there is out there! You know how easy is it for chameleons to shift colors—it’s almost immediate (and non-negotiable), adaptability in a sense. Well, that’d be out in the world. If I have to walk, I’ll run or sprint. Overachiever is a word often used to describe me. But internally, though? I kick. I scream. I cry.
I’m severely uncomfortable on a daily basis, but I have to deal with it. I know I have to work through it. Don’t particularly do too well with vulnerability, much less with judgments and dirty or confused looks from people. This is what has brought me back to the page.
I’m already starting to feel relief and that’s why I’m writing.
I’m safe here.
Adaptability vs Resilience
How many of us can relate to Cy? As the iconic yet ironic and frustrated saying goes—the struggle is real. Change is something that most of us genuinely wrestle with. Let me ask you this: If you had to choose between being adaptable or resilient to describe you best, which one would it be? Or can you potentially identify with both (or possibly neither)?
It’s key to understand the difference between these two skills even though they go hand-in-hand. Affiliate leaders and senior partners from McKinsey & Company, an organization solely focused on creating positive and enduring change in the world, clarify that, although resilience and adaptability are linked, they are highly distinct. Resilience often entails responding well to an external event, while adaptability moves us from enduring a challenge to thriving beyond it. We don’t just “bounce back” from difficult situations—we “bounce forward” into new realms, learning to be more adaptable as our circumstances evolve and change (2021).
Adaptability can also be found in the Cambridge English Dictionary, and it’s defined as the “ability or willingness to change” (n.d.). Today, we’ll focus on how vital it is to adapt and why we should embrace it instead of shying away from it.
Go At Your Pace, Your Rhythm
Understanding adaptability is one thing. It’s another when it comes to how we can implement or embrace it in our day-to-day lives. By learning how to be more agile, emotionally flexible and open to experiences, we’re automatically becoming adaptable. These factors help us maintain our cool display when faced with high-pressure situations; we’d also be able to express a certain level of calm amid change.
By being adaptable, we act with smart and thoughtful choices instead of reacting in a clashing way. Studies have shown that adaptability is also connected to important psychological skills, ranging from coping to personal growth (McKinsey & Company, 2021). By having higher levels of adaptability, the greater levels of learning ability are associated with better performance, confidence, and creative output.
The following tips are four healthy ways that can help us become adaptable (Robert Half Talent Solutions, n.d.):
- Learn from others.
- Find the silver lining.
- Be willing to make mistakes.
- Ask questions.
By embracing change and becoming adaptable, we naturally learn to handle challenges better—without limitations on our thinking and actions, challenges become something not to dread, but to seize instead and enjoy working through. People who are willing to change, or shake up conventional ways of doing things, remain relevant throughout their lives. Experimenting actually becomes a comfort zone instead of the other way around.
Write the Song Accordingly
Like it or not, change is an inevitable part of life and the key is here, my dear readers: to learn how to navigate and cope through change.
Writing and journaling are great exercises for clarifying deep meanings within ourselves. It’s crucial to know and understand where we stand emotionally when it comes to change, and realize why it is that we either resist or truly embrace it.
Hallie Sheinbaum, a former editorial coordinator of The Local Optimist, social media strategist and project manager dedicated to making an impact in the world, jotted down some journal prompts to help people like us—those trying to figure out how to adapt to change—to get started between the pages (2021).
- Identify three emotions you’ve felt around a change (or changes) and write the ways they’ve reflected in your behaviors and conversations.
- Do you embrace change or do you find it difficult? Explain (or vent).
- If you’re not a fan of change, dissect the reasons that make you hesitant about it. Then list ways that may help you embrace change.
- Is what’s changing in your life important to you? Why or why not?
- What do you wish to gain or experience out of a current change? Name three goals you’d like or want to accomplish from said change.
For those of us who are a bit more familiar with writing, use these prompts as a friendly reminder to not forget to journal when you’re feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
Writing is literally at our fingertips, and we mustn’t forget it! It can be cathartic to write how we’re feeling, and sometimes it can be eye-opening in the sense of coming to an understanding of where everything (thoughts and feelings) is coming from.
Although change can be terrifying at times, it may not feel so scary once unraveled in paper. Adaptability is a skill mastered with practice and it makes stronger human beings. If we choose to embrace it instead of fear it, we have the capacity to do anything. In a world like ours with constant flux, it is essential to have this skill set locked in (or at least in the works).
If you’re feeling like you’re ready to unload some fears, you’re encouraged to use this opportunity to share how you’re feeling towards adaptability. Is there a certain change you’re going through? There’s no right or wrong answer here. Journal with The Love Story by clicking the link below.
Cambridge Dictionary. (2023). Adaptability. In Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/adaptability
Brassey, J., De Smet, A., Kothari, A., Lavoie, J. & Mugayar-Baldocchi, M. (2021, August 2). Future proof: Solving the ‘adaptability paradox’ for the long term. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/future-proof-solving-the-adaptability-paradox-for-the-long-term
How to improve your adaptability skills. Retrieved on June 6, 2023 from Robert Half Talent Solutions. https://www.roberthalf.co.nz/career-advice/career-development/adaptability-skills
Sheinbaum, H. (2021, August 18). 6 Journal prompts to help you adapt to change. The Local Optimist. https://www.localoptimist.com/blog/stories/yryqbxeaaogt5iou