There are two kinds of people. The ones who like the challenges, to have a thrilling life and who embrace the unpredictable changes in their lives, and the ones who get scared and anxious whenever something is not going according to the plan.
Well, I'm in the second category.
I (almost) always have a plan. A well-documented shopping plan, what clothes do I wear tomorrow, I'm even making a plan in the morning for the current day with two lists and action items - "today I'm doing this, tomorrow I'm doing that", you get it.
And what happens when something is not working according to the plan?
My first feeling is frustration. The second one is resistance.
Frustration because my plan could not be kept and I had to adjust it. After a few minutes of trying to figure out why my plan was not good enough (a waste of time!), I'm trying to adapt myself to the new situation and be able to give my best to accomplish the new tasks.
Resistance because I'm forced to get out of my comfort zone.
Adaptability is an attractive skill to have on your CV and we all like to think about ourselves we are adaptable and flexible, we like to be challenged and we like dynamic environments.
As per the definition I have found, adaptability is "a skill which refers to the ability of a person to change his actions, course or approach to doing things to suit a new situation."
Simple in theory. But what do we do in practice?
I faced a few months ago the biggest change and also the biggest challenge of my life. I've become a mom. And even if I wanted to become a mom and felt (or maybe I thought, more than I felt, haha) that it was the right moment for me and for us as a family (you'll never know when's the right moment anyway) it was not an easy change. The fact is that even if you want something, that does not make it easier.
While in the hospital after I gave birth to our little girl, a psychologist was sent to discuss with every new mom about the baby blues and about an eventual postpartum depression. And he asked me "from a scale from 1 to 10 how adaptable do you think you are?". I've made a pause and then said "I think I'm about 8". My husband smiled.
You can easily guess that the first weeks with my baby at home showed me that my 8 was highly overrated.
After one month and a half, one night while waiting for my baby girl to finish up her milky meal, this came to my mind:
adaptability should be my new capability
The importance of adaptability cannot be doubted. We all know that is a key factor in businesses and is a key skill for every employee who wants to keep his or her job relevant. Without adaptability, perhaps many big companies would have been closed by now and many professionals would have got outdated.
How do we achieve a higher level of adaptability?
Forget about your comfort zone
Being adaptable is more than being flexible. Being adaptable means leaving the "I cannot do that" behind and being open to new things and situations. The comfort zone is as per its name, comfortable, but sometimes we need to take a step forward from it and face the change. It may sound like a cliche, but it's true, staying in our comfort zone is not the best thing for us.
Embrace the change
Changes are not always easy to be accepted. But as soon as you manage to leave the past in the past and accept the new life, the new things, or the new situations, your job of becoming more adaptable becomes easier. Try to focus more on the present, rather than on the past or on the future and maximize the moment you're living.
Don't get me wrong. I did not forget who I was before having a baby, that I was an active woman loving her job, but I'm trying to focus more on my current job of nursing and caring for a baby. At least for now. I embraced the change, even if it was not easy.
Adjust your goals
Goals are in many cases dependent on the context you are in. Whenever a new situation appears, you might be forced to adjust your goals and motivation. If for example, you're working in a tech company as a developer and you have set the goal of learning and becoming a DevOps and your company is passing through massive changes and restructuring, rather than be stuck in your goal that maybe is not applicable anymore, adjust it and find something that fits your current situation.
Having in mind your old goals and your previous motivation it only makes harder to face the new situation.
Set small goals that can be easily measured. Check them frequently to see which were accomplished and which needs to be changed.
Adjusting your goals and motivation is an important step to accomplish when a big change is happening in your life, professionally or personally. I made a smooth transition from growing my software testing skills and managerial skills to growing as a human being.
Keep in mind that whenever you're facing a new situation, the way you're framing it in your mind determines the actions you're going to take to adapt yourself to that situation.