In a fast-paced world, being able to adapt to changing conditions is a critical skill.

The most successful companies have figured out how to be nimble to evolving markets and environments.  They stay vigilant and don’t get too comfortable.  They constantly scan the horizon for new information and shifting conditions. They build flexible processes and systems that can respond to new needs.

As an individual, there are a number of regular actions you can take to strengthen your adaptability.  The more you practice them, the more skill you will build.

Here are 6 habits that support your ability to adapt to change:

1)  Look at least 6-12 months ahead in your work and life

Discipline yourself to think about what things are coming up that you need to decide about, plan and budget for, and take action on. Use calendars and project planning tools to stay on schedule and plan for contingencies.   The more you’ve planned for what’s ahead, the more in control you’ll feel, and the fewer surprises you’re likely to encounter.  This will help you be more level-headed and able to respond when and if something changes.


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2)  Practice improvisation

Improvising means making do with what you have.  Practice using whatever existing materials or resources you have to solve an issue.  Resist the temptation to go out and buy or find more resources to get a job done.   Remember the American TV show called MacGyver?   He was the king of improvising with whatever he had in order to solve a problem or make things happen.  While part of being adaptable can certainly include asking for more help or resources when needed, the idea here is just to practice the improvisation habit where appropriate so you build some skill for later use.


3)  Be a world-class forgiver

When you forgive someone, you free up mental resources to focus on other things.  Recognize that people mess up and unplanned things happen.   If you get bogged down in resentment, regret, hate, or anger, you will lose precious time and have less emotional resources for bigger things.


4)  Expose yourself to variety and novelty

When you have seen and done a greater variety of unique things, you will have a broader perspective and deeper knowledge base to draw on to make decisions and solve problems. Exposing yourself to more things also keeps you stimulated and less stale from too much routine and predictability, with helps support your resilience. 



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5)  Develop your personal “reset” button

Figure out what stimulus or thought will provide the quickest mood shift on a bad day.  It could be music, exercise, a massage, hot shower, or kiss from your kids.   Whatever it is, master the art of using this tool to restore yourself back to neutral and avoid letting stress build up.   By using this technique, you’ll help avoid burnout and have more mental freshness to address changes as they come up.


6)  Practice good physical self-care

When your body feels good, you will have the physical resources to respond to change more effectively.  Make sure you are eating well, getting adequate sleep and rest, and exercising regularly.  Stay hydrated and avoid over-doing it with alcohol, drugs, or food.

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