Adapting With Change

No one likes change. No one likes being forced to adapt in order to thrive but that fact of the matter is, without change there is no growth. Without adapting there is no learning or improvement. 

Learning how to adapt will allow us to better deal with the unexpected challenges that life throws at us, and come out on the other side better for having gone through it. 

Being able to adapt and improve consistently and effectively when facing any obstacle will make the difference between mediocrity and greatness. 

What we're used to versus the unfamiliar 

By nature, we will always prefer what we are familiar with to what we aren’t. This is because our brains are wired to make repeated information or action automatic, so that they use as little energy as possible. 

When something changes we are forced to acknowledge the difference between what was, and what now is. This requires extra effort, and we don't like that. This is why, oftentimes we instinctively view a change as negative, because we don't like the work of adapting. 

The good news is that while accepting changes will always require extra effort, we can learn to think rationally about a change. So we can process the new information in a way that helps us rather than hurts us. 

There are two types of changes that we need to be able to adapt to in our lives. 

- Internal change 

- External change

Internal Change

Internal change is any change that you are the cause of, this can be changing how you do a certain task, how you interact in a given environment or how you choose to think about something. There are a couple key steps we can take to make any internal change easier, so that we can reduce the stress of it, and feel more assured in ourselves during the process. 

Step 1: Know why you want to change it.

Usually the answer to this question is for the broader aim of self-betterment, through learning skills or knowledge; or adjusting how you think and act in the world. This can include learning something to improve at your job or hobbies, building clarity in your thoughts and actions, or improving your relationships with others to help everyone involved. 

This “why" is the motivation to stick to your goal and will be used to remind yourself of its importance when things gets hard. 

Step 2: Measurable steps to make it effective.

You need to be specific here, don’t make your internal change something that's too generic and vague to take real action. Think of a specific situation that you will see this change in, and some way of telling whether the change was implemented or not. 

Step 3: Call yourself out when something doesn't work.

Calling yourself out when something doesn't work is how you can be honest with yourself and remind yourself of your goal and the commitment made to that goal. 

It is easy to make excuses and allow yourself to slack off, but if you truly believe in your goal, it is best to be strict with yourself and acknowledge those excuses so they can't be used in the future. 

Step 4: Acknowledge limitations and find solutions.

Setting a goal for change is easy, but executing on that change is hard. 

As you go through the process of trying to change something there will be things that get in the way or that change. Whether it is a self-limiting belief, an excuse or an external obstacle that stands in the way, finding a solution to address the problem will make it easier to accomplish your goal in the future. 

Here is an example:

Goal: I want to prioritize my sleep. 

Step 1: I want to prioritize my sleep so that I can improve my health & feel better all day long. 

They “why" here is improving my health and mood. 

Step 2: I am going to get at least 8 hours of sleep everyday, I will measure success based on whether I am in bed at least 30 minutes before I need to fall asleep in order to hit the 8 hour mark. 

This measure is specific and relevant to my goal, giving me a clear guide for what I need to do  to achieve my goal. 

Step 3: When I stay up too late on my phone, I will consciously acknowledge that I am missing my goal and remind myself that if I want to feel better and healthier, turning off my phone so that I can improve my sleep is a requirement. 

I will not allow the excuse of my phone use limit my ability to reach my goal, acknowledging the excuse and not allowing myself to blame my phone will keep me honest with my goals. 

Step 4: Turning off my phone before bed is hard for me and disrupts my plan to go to bed on time. To fix this, I will set a non-negotiable alarm that sets a deadline for when I have to put my phone away. I will also place my phone charger on the other side of my room to make it harder to access my phone when I go to bed. 

I acknowledge my excuse and find a solution to the issue of staying on my phone too late that works for me, so that I can hit my goal. 

Reactionary change

A reactionary change is when something changes that is outside of your sphere of control. 

When the weather gets worse, when a deadline is moved up, when your favorite tv show gets cancelled or when the prices in the grocery store go up. 

All of these factors are outside of your control. You can do nothing to change what has happened, so it is better to focus on what you can control, and how you will react to the new development. 

Most people's first instinct is to complain about what has changed, listing out all the new problems it causes and why you think it was good the way it was before.

Unfortunately, complaining does absolutely nothing to make the situation better, oftentimes it actually makes it worse because you spend so much energy focusing on the problems that you dramatize it in your head, making it feel like a much bigger issue than it actually is. 

Learning how to react appropriately with the change helps us put it into perspective and allows us not to waste obscene amounts of energy obsessing over something irrelevant. 

There are a couple key questions we can ask ourselves to help keep our reactions in check. 

1. What is the actual impact of this change on my life? 

2. Can I do something about it? 

3. What can I learn from this?, What are the benefits I am not seeing? 

4. Can I view this as a challenge? 

5. Where can I put my negative emotions about it to good use? 

Asking these questions will help you put the change into perspective. 

"What is the actual impact on my life?” 

This will, more often than not, help you see that the impact is not as large as you have built it up in your head to be.  

"Can I do something about it?”

If the answer is no: accept the change and move on. 

If the answer is yes: go do it. 

“What can I learn from this? & What are the benefits I am not seeing?”

These questions help you look for opportunities for growth, and upsides you hadn't considered so that you can see the good in the change instead of solely focusing on the bad. 

"Can I view this as a challenge?”

Viewing a change as a challenge will shift your brain from complain mode into action mode, using the change as a test of your abilities and strength, so that instead of seeing something as a threat to you, you can view it as a chance to be better. 

The last question “where can I put my negative emotions about it to good use?”

There is nothing wrong with feeling anger or frustration about a given change, but we should try to make these emotions work for us, rather than against us. We can use our anger or frustration to motivate us in our exercise, work, or in a creative pursuit. Writing down these negative emotions can also be a good way of dealing with them while simultaneously building clarity in our thoughts. 

Responding with the intention of growth 

The key to responding to any change is to look at it with an open mind. Being flexible and searching for opportunities for growth is what allows you to rise above a given problem or circumstance and find the value in it, even if that value is character building. 

Every life will have its challenges and struggles, trying to learn from them and use these trials to our benefit is the best way we can avoid stagnating and not allow these obstacles to drag us down in life. Staying positive when times are at their hardest is a skill that will make you unstoppable. 

The only constant is change

We cannot grow without change, whether that change is internal or external doesn't matter. What matters is that we are trying to *grow*, rather than stay where we are. 

No one is perfect, but that shouldn't be a reason to stop trying, it should be motivation to always be improving. 

Change is slow, and it is hard. Learning to adapt more effectively and minimizing our fear of change is something that we can all do better at. The person who can adapt the best will do the best, they will deal with any problems thrown their way. They will be open to being wrong and open to trying something again and again until it works. 

Whatever your profession or your interests are. The most useful skill we can all learn, is the skill of adapting, because it is the building block on which everything else is built. Adapting is the core skill in learning how to learn, improve, and grow - day in and day out. 

Resisting change is not the best way forward, working with change is, because change is itself neutral - it only becomes positive or negative depending on how you view it. 

With all the chaos in this this world, everything is always changing, the only constant is change itself. 

Keep Journeying.🤙 


Phillips, F. (2017, May 12). Why change is so damn hard, according to science - The Writing Cooperative. Medium; The Writing Cooperative.

Staff, N. (2019, December 12). Why Change Is so Hard — and How to Deal with It. NeuroLeadership Institute.

Why Adapting to Change Is Difficult. (2022, April 28). Brilliantio.