Adapting to Change: 5 Essential Life Skills

Adapting to Change: 5 Essential Life Skills

People who are adaptive are able to organize their thoughts in ways that generate appropriate and positive actions. Adaptive capabilities are necessary as changes occur in individuals and their circumstances.

Adaptive behaviors are age-dependent skills that allow us to successfully participate in daily activities throughout our lives. We can also think of adaptive behavior as skills that allow us to be flexible when change occurs in our personal life or career.

If we are adaptive, we will respond to unexpected events or unconstructive actions in creative or constructive ways. An adaptive individual is able to redirect his mind in new directions and make choices based on desired outcomes. He or she is open to change, knowing that it’s the sail setting that matters, not the wind direction.

Consider these five life skills for constructively dealing with changing circumstances in everyday life.

1. Stop and think to avoid misinterpretations. Give yourself time to analyze situations thoroughly. Look at actions and circumstances from different angles and perspectives to get an accurate understanding of what happened. If there are people involved, voice your concerns and ask questions to get information that may not be obvious. This will allow you to make an informed choice.

2. Think long term. Ask yourself “What if?” questions. Consider the consequences of handling a situation in different ways. Ask “What do I have to lose?” and “What will I win?” “How might this choice affect my family, friends, myself, and future well-being?”

3. Prepare for change with continuous learning. Change is constant in everyone’s life. The skills needed to meet different needs will change throughout the life stages. We will continue to need updated knowledge in areas such as self-care, relationships, parenting, and finances.

4. Look beneath the surface. Challenges welcome. Every challenging situation brings a chance to become wiser and more skillful. Somewhere someone has successfully dealt with the same situation. Even circumstances that seem most devastating carry within them the seed of new blessing. Those who seek these blessings will eventually find them.

5. Clarify your values: the principles that guide your actions. Then look at your needs: those things that need to be met in ways that stay true to your values. Ask yourself this question: “Is my reaction an attempt to meet a personal need in a healthy way, or is it a creative solution to some other problem?” Then ask, “Is my choice of action consistent with my core values?”

Conscientiously thinking about these skills has helped many of my clients make positive choices in situations requiring adaptive change and problem solving. They can help you too. May each new challenge make you wiser, more skilled, more adaptable and more loving, today and in the future.

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