What are ways to improve my instincts

3 tips to increase your flexibility and manage your life

Uncertainty is the new normal

Have you been feeling tense lately? As if the world is falling apart and every year that goes by feels less stable than the year before?

In our fast-paced modern life, driven by technical developments, many people feel overwhelmed, even in the best of times. But when there is also a global pandemic, massive economic upheavals, social unrest and the impending danger of climate change, it is perfectly justified not to find a peaceful sleep.

Even without another disaster, it's easy to see that change is accelerating. As early as 1987, the U.S. Army War College for the emerging new normal in relation to the state of the world, the acronym VUCA, which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Today we see VUCA in action every day, from the destabilizing pace dictated by new technologies and automation to massive changes in the way we work and where we work. Life, it seems, actually turns out to be a state in which everything flows.

So if you feel worried and lost, that's perfectly normal. It is not a failure on your part. And the good news is that something can be done about it.

You can never know or control what the next day will bring, but you can can control how to deal with change. Are you more likely to stumble and drown, or are you more likely to find solid ground and seize new opportunities? Yours adaptability can, in combination with the similar characteristics of resilience (English) and emotional intelligence (English), swing the pendulum in the desired direction.

What exactly does adaptability mean?

To be flexible or adaptable does not mean “going with the flow” and being carried away by every current. A better definition comes from Andrew J. Martin of the University of New South Wales, who identified three components of adaptability:

  • Vote your own Thoughts and ways of thinking in response to change
  • Dealing with positive and negative emotional reactions on changes
  • Change of your own Behavior in response to change

True adaptability begins with rational thinking and ends with deliberate action. Behind this is a growth mindset, an understanding of how to adapt to change that each of us can cultivate through self-reflection, creative thinking, and deliberate practice.

Be prepared for everything: your toolbox for adaptability

As executive coach Jennifer Jones put it in a 2017 TED Talk: “We lose the ability to adapt because we don't take the time and attention to prepare and develop. We jump from change to change, acting out of an impulse, not out of a strategy. "

Below are three steps you can take immediately to develop a strategy like this, become more adaptable, and cope with even the worst changes:

1. Orientate yourself on the North Star

We previously posted a blog article about why goals are important and how achieving those goals requires specific, realistic plans. But in a world of constant change, your goals and plans can become obsolete overnight. What do you do then?

To answer this question, imagine someone dumped you deep in the forest in an unknown part of the world. How would you find your way home First of all, you need to know which way is north.

To become more adaptable, you need goals big enough to serve as the true north in your life. You will also need a sufficient understanding of yourself to be able to draw a map and use it to determine where you are in relation to these goals.

Take the initiative:

  • Find your personal north: Ask yourself the following questions: What is my personal or professional purpose? What gives me the feeling of fulfillment as a person? Which aspects of me are so fundamental that external changes cannot affect them?Write down your answers (English).
  • Identify your strengths: What talents, skills or experiences do you already have that few others have? For example, do you know JavaScript? Do you have a flair for baking? Do you have an encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Comics? Take stock, put everything in writing, and don't be reluctant to do so.
  • Create a map: Creating your map for life will help you connect the dots between your “Pole Star” goals and your current state. Grab paper and pens, and you can have that job done in an hour.
  • Break down your plans: Once you have the big picture in mind, you can future proof your plans by breaking them down into short-, medium-, and long-term projects. Make detailed plans for the next week or two, set general milestones for the next few months, and narrow the long-term goal to one or two key principles.

Keep all of these notes together in Evernote. Come back to her whenever you feel unsettled or aimless. Through them you get back in touch with the things that are most important to you, so that you can take a new path in the right direction.

2. Expand your comfort zone

It is difficult to adapt to changes when you are stuck in your own familiar patterns. We like to move within our "comfort zone" because it is safe and predictable, but it also holds us back (English). We are comfortable with what is already familiar to us. However, learning and growth demand more.

Outside of our comfort zone, things can get scary quickly. If our situation changes too much or too quickly, the comfort zone can dissolve and leave us in a "red area" of fear and panic. This is where our “fight or flight” instinct gains the upper hand. Switching to reflexes is a good survivability when dealing with an angry tiger, for example, but not particularly helpful when we have to adapt our lives and business activities to distance or changing market forces.

Fortunately, you don't have to choose between comfort and panic. There is a third zone in between (English), the “learning zone”, in which we become more adaptable. We get into this area when we deal with new ideas, train our creativity or acquire new skills. The more time you spend in the learning zone, the more possible alternatives you will discover. The bottom line is that your comfort zone expands while your panic zone shrinks.

Take the initiative:

  • Let your curiosity run wild: Open up to new ideas and suggestions. Read books on topics you would normally not pick up and write down your reactions to them. Expand your filter bubble on social media to include experts inside (and outside!) Your area of ​​expertise. Break through your daily routine and have new experiences.
  • Learn new skills: Broaden your horizons by developing skills that complement what you already have. If you're a fan of digital photography, shooting with black and white film can teach you to be more patient and see a subject differently. If you are good at programming, taking a design course can give you a better understanding of how other users interact with your work.
  • Train your creative muscles: You may not think of yourself as a creative person, but you really are (English). Writing, art, improvisation, and music are all powerful ways to increase your mental flexibility. And the evidence is mounting that these activities can rewire your brain. How cool is that?
  • Keep inspirational materials close at hand: You come across interesting ideas, articles and pictures every day; Things that may not currently play a role in your life, but could be useful later. Do not miss these suggestions! A general collection of notes or a note full of suggestions (English) in Evernote can become an endless source of inspiration for you. Go through these notes whenever you are looking for a new solution - the answer may already be in your notes!

3.Learn from your mistakes (and successes)

By now, you've laid the foundation for a more adaptable, flexible version of yourself. You have a map for orientation. You've expanded your comfort zone so the unknown feels less threatening. The next step now is to complete the process of Incorporate adaptation into your routine. You should always keep in mind that customization is not about going with the flow, it is a mindset that is reinforced with consistent application.

In other words, you need to become more aware of yourself and be ready to criticize yourself honestly and constructively. Make it a habit to keep track of your progress. Focus on the things that work, discard the rest, and keep looking for new alternatives.

Take the initiative:

  • Document your life:Keeping a journal is a great way to track and better understand your emotional state. Keeping a journal can help you identify triggers for stress, assess your reactions, and work through problems or fears. All of this is important when responding to a challenging situation.
  • Catalog your failures: This may sound like a straightforward route to lower self-esteem at first, but keeping a record of your failures is actually a powerful tool for growth. Look carefully for the specific reasons why something didn't work out. Would you have needed better education or training? A better plan? More support from your colleagues? How can you better prepare for the next attempt? The bottom line is not that you screwed it up, but that you screwed up improve can.
  • Give yourself some love: Looking at your failures can take a heavy emotional toll, so make sure you balance the negatives with positives. Track your small achievements (English) and all the things you do to fuel your own growth: your reading, training, workouts, and creative outlets. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or “done list” to remind yourself of whatever is going well. There is probably more to it than you realize.

Mix again, revise, repeat

Our last tip is the simplest: Schedule fixed times each week to check the state of affairs. Treat this appointment with yourself as something sacred, because that's where everything comes together.

As you review your notes, ask yourself these questions: What works and what doesn't? What new ideas have you put in your notebook for inspiration that can bring you closer to the goals on the map of your life? What project or skills should you tackle next?

Sometimes customization is easy. For example, if the pandemic destroyed your plan to hit the gym three times a week, you can still work out at home. Other challenges are far more difficult to tackle, but still solvable. If you have lost your job, for example, you can reorient yourself. Use all of your inventory, the map of your life and your creative skills to envision new opportunities to offer your skills as a freelancer, to work with others for mutual support or to change your career path.

As you ponder your options, watch out for unexpected connections. Practice divergent and convergent thinking (English) to collect as many ideas as possible and then choose the best ones. Most importantly, focus on solutions, not problems. Change your perspective, change your behavior and see what happens.