It goes without saying that change is inevitable. From the moment we are born, our lives are in constant flux. We change physically, mentally, and spiritually as we transition through the various stages that make us who we are today. And, most of us would consider ourselves to be resilient in the face of change and exceptionally welcoming when the change works to our benefit. All this said, what happens when the change we are experiencing becomes too precipitous, overwhelming, or unimaginable? How can we cope with change that rattles the very essence of our current lifestyle and way of doing business?
Why is “adaptability” key to successfully working through a catastrophic change?
People who can adjust quickly to change are likely to have more positive outcomes than those who can’t. Adaptability or the ability to change to fit new circumstances allows these individuals to keep moving forward despite the chaos. They are skilled at reinventing themselves to transform disrupting change into new opportunities for success.
What can you do to come out ahead during a time of crisis?
Start with these strategies:
(1) Analyze the change and its impact on your lifestyle. Especially when the change stems from a notable disaster such as a flood, wildfire, earthquake or pandemic, rely on your analytical skills to better understand its direct effect on the safety and financial well-being of you and your loved ones. Gather facts and figures from credible sources and your own personal observations to map out the extent and enormity of the change. Work through scenarios to identify your best course of action both in the immediate and long-term future.
(2) Determine what you can and cannot control. Not everything is in your power to change. Focus on those things that are within your scope to address and let the rest go.
(3) Don’t assume a victim mentality. You become powerless to solve or effectively cope with a problem when you choose to take on the role of victim. Whenever this happens, your efforts to effectively tackle the change will come to a screeching halt as you become paralyzed to do much more than feel sorry for yourself.
(4) Focus on solutions rather than problems. A crisis suddenly crashing down on you will bring with it a tidal wave of problems. These problems will most likely require immediate attention, so make that your priority. Instead of dwelling on the root cause, shift your attention quickly to resolving the most urgent problems first.
(5) Rethink your paradigm. A major disruption will instantly alter how you carry out your daily routine. It will force you to reexamine and revise your assumptions, concepts, priorities, and practices to meet your changing reality. Be flexible in what you do and how you do it during these difficult times.
(6) Keep being positive. Fear, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, and sadness are natural responses to a devastating situation. Allow yourself time to work through these emotions without letting them define you. Interject into your daily routine ways to keep positive by exercising, practicing yoga, meditating, eating right, finding humor, listening to music, and being mindful. Your mental and physical well-being depends upon your ability to keep your stress and strain in check.
(7) Discover new opportunities. Even when the odds seem stacked against you, there are always hidden opportunities that are yours for the taking. Uncovering them will require a combination of time, patience, perseverance, and creative thinking. Let go of the “what ifs, what could have been, and why me” questions. Instead, envision a new future and concentrate on taking the initiative to rebuild a lifestyle that might ultimately be better for you in the long run.
(8) Believe in the future. Have faith that things will get better. Pessimistic thoughts will get in the way of good things happening to you.
Food for Thought: As tragic as your situation might be, there are always people less fortunate than you. During times of upheaval, practice being a little more considerate, supportive, and understanding of others. A single act of compassion can uplift someone’s spirits as well as your own without much effort at all.
Written by: Patricia K. Flanigan, Smart Strategies for Successful Living
Patricia K. Flanigan has worked in higher education for over 28 years. She holds a doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne as well as a M.A. in Latin American Studies and B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Before retiring and moving to Idaho in 2015, she served as the dean of online education and learning resources at Saddleback College in Southern California. She currently consults in higher education, volunteers for AARP, writes for a local magazine, and serves as an Affiliate Faculty member for BSU. Since February 2017, she has been the founding director for Smart Strategies for Successful Living, a community-based website designed to promote quality aging. As an educator, her focus is to inspire others to live and age well.