When Heraclitus said, “The only thing that is constant is change,” he wasn’t kidding.
Greek philosophers are long gone, but this statement is still true. It seems no matter how hard we humans try to develop comfortable and predictable lives, the universe has a way of throwing a kink in our plans when we are least expecting it.
Life as a college student can be especially tumultuous. With attempting to balance school work, relationships and jobs, things don’t always go the way we hope. Learning to be adaptable in the face of new challenges is a skill not everyone learns easily. According to an article about the benefits of being adaptable on Business.com, those who adapt often end up having a lot of success, and happier lives. Adaptability is a vital trait when it comes to almost every facet of life, including leadership, relationships and careers.
Whether you like it or not, you will eventually have the opportunity to practice embracing change. When the unexpected happens to you, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Keep your expectations in check.
The sad truth is we have very little, if any, control over our lives. People will debate whether it’s better to have high expectations to achieve goals or low expectations and be pleasantly surprised when things go right, but in a 2015 podcast, Dan Millman said it’s best to have no expectations. The only thing we truly have control over is our efforts, not the outcome. Even when we try our absolute hardest, the timing could just not be right at no fault of our own.
Training yourself to stop worrying about meeting the expectations you set for yourself and other people gives you the freedom and energy to concentrate on your efforts instead. Don’t get me wrong — setting goals and having dreams are still important. Setting a goal and working toward it without expecting an explicit outcome is what Millman recommends. Learning to keep your expectations in check can make dealing with change a little easier and better prepare you for the next challenge.
Be OK with uncertainty.
Life changes can throw off your mojo, especially when that change is unemployment, a breakup or the death of a loved one. Even smaller changes can mess with your confidence. What once seemed like a stable part of your life is now gone, and it can trigger doubt and insecurity. Don’t forget everyone experiences a little anxiety during change. These feelings never go away; they are part of being human. Feeling nervous can often mean something great is about to happen, and you’ll have an opportunity for growth.
In order to accept and embrace uncertainty, an article by Zen Habits recommends reminding yourself that through any life change, ultimately you’ll end up OK.
Have new experiences.
Change creates the possibility for you to switch up your routine. Use this opportunity to see a different city, try something you’ve never done before, or meet interesting new people. Nothing leaves me more refreshed, inspired and optimistic than getting to know someone new with a different perspective on life other than my own.
Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Self pity will get you nowhere. When things aren’t going your way it is easy to play the victim and blame misfortune on your surroundings. Before you know it, you could be getting upset at every little thing that goes wrong during the day. This mindset only adds fruitless negativity to your life and is counterproductive to accepting change and moving forward.
Instead, try switching to a grateful mindset. If I’m having a rough day, I’ll try to remember how small my problems are compared to the much more serious challenges other people are facing. I’m stressed because I have too much school work? No, I’m lucky to have opportunities for education. A lot of it is simply changing your perception and training your brain to make that your default mode.
Change can be the best teacher.
Change is often totally out of our control, but that doesn’t mean we cannot take away lessons from our experience. The universe puts challenges into our lives so that we can learn and become better versions of ourselves. Any suffering, fear or discomfort that comes from change is a total waste if you don’t find value in the process. Profound wisdom comes from seeing change not as an inconvenience, but as a teacher.
Now you are a little better prepared for the next curveball life throws at you. Hopefully we can all become better students and happier people through learning to embrace change. Please tell me your thoughts in the comments section or on my Twitter account. I’d love to hear from you!