Adapting to Change: 5 Essential Life Skills

People who are adaptive are able to organize their thoughts in ways that generate appropriate and positive actions. Adaptive abilities are necessary as changes occur in individuals and their circumstances.

Adaptive behaviors are age-dependent skills that allow us to engage successfully in activities of daily living through our lives. We can also think of adaptive behaviors as skills that allow us to be flexible when change occurs in our personal lives or careers.

If we are adaptive, we will react to unexpected events or unconstructive actions in creative or constructive ways. An adaptive individual is able to refocus the mind in new directions and make choices based on his or her desired outcomes. He or she is open to change, knowing it is the set of the sail that matters – not the direction of the wind.

Consider these five life skills for dealing constructively with changing circumstances in daily living.

1. Stop and think to avoid misinterpretations. Give yourself time to analyze situations thoroughly. View actions and circumstances from different angles and perspectives to gain an accurate understanding of what has happened. If people are involved, communicate your concerns and ask questions to get information that might not be apparent. This will allow you to make informed choices.

2. Think long-term. Ask yourself "What if?" questions. Think about the consequences of dealing with a situation in various ways. Ask, "What will I lose?" and "What will I gain?" "How could this choice affect my family, friends, self, and future well being?"

3. Prepare for change with continuous learning. Change is a constant in everyone's life. The skills needed to meet various needs will change through all stages of life. We will continue to need updated knowledge in such areas as self-care, relationships, parenting, and financial.

4. Look beneath the surface. Welcome challenges. Every challenging situation brings the chance to grow wiser and more skillful. Somewhere, someone has successfully dealt with the same situation. Even circumstances that seem most devastating carry within them the seed of a new blessing. Those who search for these blessings will eventually find them.

5. Become clear on your values: the principles that guide your actions. Then look at your needs: those things that must be met in ways that remain true to your values. Ask yourself this question: "Is my reaction an attempt to meet a personal need in a healthy manner, or is it a creative solution to some other problem?" Then ask, "Is my choice of action in keeping with my core values?"

Thinking conscientiously about these skills has helped many of my clients to make positive choices in situations requiring adaptive change and problem solving. They can also help you. May every new challenge leave you wiser, more skillful, more adaptive, and more loving, today and also in the future.

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