The only constant in life is change.
We change, places change, jobs change, technologies change, ideas change.
These days change is accelerating faster than perhaps any time before in history.
So how do you adapt instead of getting overwhelmed by the pace of change?
1) Accept change
First off, we can’t change change.
It’s going to happen no matter what we do.
For that reason, accepting change is always the first step and the foundation of learning to adapt to changes.
This means you accept the reality that things will always change.
You don’t have to like it or enjoy it, but you do have to confront it.
Change is coming. Let’s roll with it instead of fighting against it.
2) Preempt change
The best way to get out ahead of change is to voluntarily choose to make changes in your life.
Before happy or sad changes occur in your life, you can become much more adaptable by making change a regular part of your life.
This can start in very simple ways: bike to work instead of driving, learn new recipes, go on vacation to a completely different place from usual, date somebody you’d usually never look at twice.
A certain amount of change is going to happen to all of us, some more than others.
By choosing change in your life proactively you hone your ability to adapt and become able to greet change with much more stoicism and efficacy.
“Seemingly small things like changing your route to work, saying ‘yes’ to something you might normally say ‘no’ to automatically, or trying a different and unfamiliar food are relatively low-stake situations that can then help you to move towards higher-stake ones.”
3) Update your skills
Part of getting out ahead of change and empowering yourself involves updating your skills.
The more you learn and know, the more prepared you will be for changes that are out of your control.
Maybe you’ve been learning Spanish and your company goes through restructuring in major ways that brings onboard half of the workforce as Spanish-speaking individuals.
Guess who just ended up being way more prepared for that big change? Look in the mirror.
The more you update your skills in general and specific skills you think you may need in the future, the more you empower yourself to not only adapt but in some cases to profit from changes that are coming.
4) Hope for the best
Next up is to try your best to be optimistic.
The future is coming one way or another and changes are going to occur.
Even if you’re happily married, your husband may get ill, or your wife may fall into a deep depression.
Even if you love your job, the industry may have a big change next year or you may find that you want to try a totally different career.
Changes and new paths are coming one way or another, both by choice and by necessity.
It’s important to see the opportunity in this and hope for the best. Try to see the possibility and potential in change.
At the same time:
5) Prepare for the worst
Your mindset and heart should be optimistic.
But your plans and preparations should be those of a doomsday prepper.
You want to have an arrow in the quiver for the worst-case scenario.
If everything goes south in your personal life, your financial life, and your health and well-being, you want a fallback plan.
Don’t obsess or become obsessive about it, but do keep in mind that the worst sometimes does happen and change can bring unexpected sidekicks that kick your butt.
Keep your eyes on the stars.
But have a plan.
6) Leave your ego out of it
As much as possible when adapting to change, try to leave your ego out of it.
When we feel that the future “owes” us or “should” turn out a certain way, we weaken ourselves by creating high expectations.
You should never focus on what you deserve or “should” get from changes.
That’s because many things outside our control which are massively unfair can and do happen even to the very best people imaginable.
Focusing on what we deserve or the fairness of change leads directly into the victim role.
This then inflates our ego to where we enter a psychodrama in which we are the innocent and heroic victim battling a vicious and cruel universe which is clearly out to get us.
The result is that you become stuck in place or resentful of change that’s occurring instead of embracing it and looking at the potential outcome of even unexpected changes.
7) Reduce your dependence on outcome
A related part of removing your ego from expectations about the future is to reduce outcome dependence.
This is where you wait or dread something happening and become paralyzed by that.
This can be really deceiving, because sometimes we do get what we want.
Say you really like a new guy and are certain your life will fall into place if he ends up being just as into you.
Then he is, or seems to be, and you become a couple. Everything seems great. Then after six months he cheats on you and your whole life is ruined.
By depending on a certain outcome you place yourself at the mercy of changes or other people’s reactions that are out of your control.
But you also put your wellbeing into the hands of somebody else or a certain outcome, meaning that when it also changes you’re inevitably left high and dry or riding further highs until eventually falling off a cliff.
Change is going to happen and you will respond happily or with frustration, but never let it control everything about you.
“If you’re able to accept and even celebrate a wide variety of outcomes, you’re setting an important precedent—that anything is possible,” observes Alicia Raeburn.
8) Free your mind
The next of the key strategies for embracing change is to get in touch with your spiritual side.
When we go searching for answers to life, we find many people willing to offer answers.
Some of these leaders and teachers are genuine and help point us in a healthy, empowering direction.
Unfortunately, many other spiritual gurus and philosophies only want to prey on people’s insecurities and search for truth.
Far too many New Age courses and paths are offering people a system built on shame, “levels” and false ideas of “purity.”
We’re told that if we can only “raise” our vibrations we will be able to have only positive and pleasant changes in our life.
Then when it doesn’t happen? You get blamed for not being positive enough!
It’s a vicious cycle of disempowerment.
But there’s another way, a path that puts you in control of your own life and helps you find your own power.
You don’t depend on anyone else to “lead” you nor to “fix” you and check your “vibrations.”
You find out how to adapt to changes of all kinds without losing your center or getting lost along the way.
The free masterclass by the shaman Rudá Iandê shows you how to unlock your true potential and free your mind from spiritual traps that many people get stuck in by mistake.
Rudá isn’t trying to be your guru or “purify” you, he’s trying to help you hold a mirror to yourself and see who you really are so you can truly progress spiritually and in your outer life.
I’ve found Rudá’s free masterclass enormously helpful and highly recommend it to anyone looking to deal with and adapt to change.
Check out the free masterclass on how to free your mind here.
9) Have a fallback plan
When changes really start rolling they can knock out many of your dreams or completely redirect them.
New possibilities open up and old ideas become impossible.
For this reason, adapting to change is also very related to having one or various fallback plans.
You can’t anticipate everything that may or may not happen, but having some financial, personal, and logistical resources for when things go wrong or unexpectedly is always a good idea.
10) Get stronger from the downsides
When changes come that are hard to take or confuse you, there are three basic choices:
- Try to get someone else to bail you out or help you
- Deny the changes or get angry, victimized or defeated by them
- Weather the storm and get stronger from the struggle
I strongly recommend option three.
While being helped by others certainly has its place, becoming too dependent even on advice or a shoulder to cry on can create a victim cycle.
Instead, let the failures and setbacks make you stronger.
11) Find the silver lining when times get tough
When times get tough there is almost always a silver lining.
I won’t tell you to practice gratitude or give thanks even if you get in a car accident or lose an arm.
You’re going to be angry and upset!
But there is almost always some kind of upside you can find.
Sometimes this may even just be logistical or a very tiny advantage against a huge pile of disadvantages.
But you should still find that one silver lining and keep it in mind, because it will give you a big leg up.
12) Watch your optimism on the upsides
On the flip side of not letting the hard times destroy you, you also need to ensure that pleasurable and enjoyable changes don’t lull you into a comfortable stupor.
When times are very good and changes are lining up on your side, this is often the time when many of us lean back and relax.
We rest on our laurels, stretch out by the pool, get lazy in our relationships, or let our work life coast while still expecting a nice paycheck.
But even when everything is going very well, this is not the time to get very relaxed and complacent, because more changes are coming their way and too much complacency leaves you unready to take on new challenges and twists and turns in the road ahead.
13) Learn from others who’ve gone before
Many other people have gone through dramatic changes in life and can help boost your confidence and mentality in adapting to change.
Many people who were an immensely beneficial influence to me growing up were from older generations.
They’d lived through historical upheaval, war, and economic crises that they had to adapt to in many ways.
They also gave me advice about the reality of relationships and building a life you can be proud of while still never getting cocky.
14) Don’t let change change your core values
At the end of the day, no matter what happens and changes, your core values should remain the same.
There may be changes which tempt you to be dishonest, to harm others or even to become a cruel person.
Giving in to this temptation lowers you as a human being and essentially means that you have lost to your lower instincts.
Instead, stick by your principles even when times are tough or confusing!
15) Practice more mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of learning to observe your thoughts and emotions without judging or believing all of them.
Sit and follow your breath in and out.
Allow thoughts and feelings to come and go without judging and focus on your breath in for three seconds through your nose and out for six or seven seconds through your mouth.
Do this for ten minutes each morning and each evening and you’ll find a small center of quiet calm building within you that you can go to even in the midst of stress and chaotic changes.
16) Surf the wave
Throughout the changes that occur in your life, adapting is a process.
The more you become accustomed to change and accepting of change, the better you become at navigating it.
Certain changes and tragedies are always going to hit hard, but when we learn to admit our limited control we actually become more powerful rather than less powerful.
There is no point in having huge expectations about the future and then playing the victim when they don’t pan out.
As I wrote, you have to hope for the best but plan for the worst.
As Lachlan Brown writes in his new book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism:
“I chose action over agonizing, and solutions over victimhood and suffering.
“Unnecessary suffering is extremely time-consuming and bad for your health.
“Life is already difficult enough without piling expectations all around it and making what you do outcome-dependent.”
Roll with the punches
As I wrote here, change is going to come one way or another.
What you do about it is up to you.
I recommend to accept change, prepare for it and be realistic about the nature of change.
I also recommend to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That way you keep all your bases covered.
Change is all about growth and decay. Just as nature grows, die and is reborn, in our lives we go through many growth cycles, endings and rebirths.
As Rudá explains in his free masterclass, when we begin to get in touch with our true power the path ahead becomes much clearer and we become more enthusiastic and able to roll with the punches.
The future is coming and it will be full of changes.
The key is to make sure you’re not just a passive recipient of whatever happens to you, but an active co-participant in the dance of life.