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How to be Adaptable and Make the Most of Your Time

Times are changing now faster than ever. There is constantly new technology, new science, and new ways of thinking. As such it has become more important than ever to be adaptable and to make the most of your time. In this article I’ll give some suggestions that I have implemented to be adaptable and to make the most of your time.

Wait to React to Changes

When I hear of changes or news rather than reacting right away, I’ll try to wait a few hours or a day to process the changes. For a lot of changes while hearing news may seem abrupt, waiting some time allows your brain to adjust to the changes and more likely able to adapt to them.

Anticipate Changes by Having Back Up Plans Ready To Go

Whether at work or in our personal lives, circumstances can change and impact your future plans. It is smart to have back up plans ready to go in case your first option or subsequent options don’t go as planned. If you have already thought about back up plans then you’ll be less stressed when you find out about your original plans no longer being possible.

Anticipate Changes Like Changes Lights

Build in Extra Time for Future Plans

Whether you are planning on buying a house, working a big upcoming work deadline, or applying for a school, it is smart to build in extra time prior to the deadline. This allows for when the unexpected happens you have more time to process the change or put a contingency plan in place.

Acquire Additional Resources and / or Support to Assist with Unexpected Events

If you are always stretched to your limits going from work to personal events then when something unexpected happens you’ll be less likely to calmly address the situation. While I was at a prior company four or so years ago my partner and I did not yet hire childcare support to help with childcare pick ups.

As many parents know, pick up times for kids at daycare or school are typically pretty strict with high rates charged if you are late. At the time like many other working parents I had a high stress job with a lot of deliverables. I would often think about how I would accomplish everything I had to at work and then be able to leave on time to pick up my kids from daycare. I was always being stretched.

One day while I was walking downstairs at work I don’t think I was fully paying attention and managed to walk straight off the stairs rather than adjusting my step down the stairs. I ended up taking a pretty rough fall down the stairs bruising my neck, wrist, and shin.

My partner also had a big meeting the following day, but I had no other choice than to call and ask for help in picking up the kids that day because I wouldn’t be able to. I had to go to the hospital and get checked out. While it thankfully took me a few weeks to make a full recovery I learned a priceless lesson which is to not stretch yourself so far and to try to plan for additional assistance.

Today I am less likely to be rushing from place to place and if I am I have friends, family, or a hired support system ready to pick up my kids in case I get held back for various reasons. Our jobs and careers can have high levels of stress with big deliverables especially as we work our way up the career ladders. I’ve found to better support ourselves it is important to build a proper support system.

Continuously Learn and Keep Current Career Knowledge Up to Date

Especially when adapting to change it is important to continuously learn so you can master the new area. If you are also focused on keeping current career knowledge up to date then you’ll be more ready when changes come about rather than focusing on catching up.

Whether through reading books or taking on new areas at work or entirely new career areas I try to continuously learn. You should also strive to continuously learn and for any skills you have acquired try to keep them up to date. For example I am currently a certified professional accounting (CPA) and I have more recently tried to keep my skills up to date.

Try Something New

If you are willing to try something new you’ll likely be more ready when something unexpected comes up because you’ve already practiced adjusting to changes. As you’ve already tried something new you understand the skills required to adapt to change.

After about ten years of working in Corporate Finance I decided I wanted to try a different career and ended up switching careers to Marketing. Even though I only stayed in Marketing for three years the skills I learned were invaluable. I realized that I could learn an entirely new career and keep up with others.

Additionally I could learn how to sell a product and use different skill sets from my core financial skills including strong communications, project management, scientific, and presentation skills. Even if I do not directly use the knowledge learned while in Marketing in my current Corporate career I know that I could learn an entirely new area. This alone builds my confidence so I know that if forced to adapt to change I could learn new skills.

Practicing trying new things could be as simple as trying a new food like dragon fruit! My kids for some reason love dragon fruit. The color of the fruit is beautiful!

Try something new, it could be dragon fruit!

Plan Ahead and Expect the Unexpected

Whether you are planning for retirement, planning a career change, planning for your kids future schools, or something else, it’s always wise to plan ahead. Sometimes I find myself reacting and when that happens it seems to take more effort than if I plan ahead and go on autopilot. For example with the pandemic we were all reacting to the situation with schools closing, going on lock downs, or switching to remote work. As most of us did not anticipate a global pandemic it took a lot of mental and physical energy adjust to the new normal.

For those of us who had a large amount of savings & investments or a job that was able to shift to be remote while the pandemic was hard it was manageable. My heart goes out to all the healthcare workers, those with jobs that cannot be done from home, or were more directly impacted by the pandemic. Thankfully I both had a lot of savings & investments and a job that was able to shift to being remote so while the pandemic was incredibly challenging I am grateful that my situation could have been worse.

The pandemic thought me and hopefully all of us that it is wise to expect the unexpected. If we are prepared for unexpected events we’ll less likely be surprised when they occur and more likely to be able to adapt to them more quickly. Of course it’s hard to anticipate everything from occurring but always having extra savings including an emergency fund, having a strong support system, having a strong skill-set and keeping it current will allow you to be able to manage change and unexpected events.

One of the main reasons I studied economics and Accounting in college is because I knew that it was important to have a skill-set where I could find a job that was in demand. I knew it was wise to expect the unexpected and have a skill-set to persevere regardless of various events.

Additionally I’m always thinking a couple days ahead to make sure I am prepared for what is to come. Whether it is upcoming kids sporting events or work deadlines I try as much as possible to anticipate what is to come and plan ahead.

If Something is Working Stick with It

After you’ve tried the above ideas, there is always the option of sticking with something if it is working. If your morning routine or current job is working then sometimes it is better to stick with it rather than constantly make changes. Once you get into a routine you spend a lot less effort figuring out where to go and what to do, you just go into autopilot which makes even hard tasks easier.

So if something is working it’s okay to not change and to simply enjoy the moment. This can apply to schools, where you live, our savings and investing habits, or anything else really.

My partners job is in southern California and my job is in the Bay Area, to a lot of people this would sound like a challenging situation to navigate but for us it works. He’ll fly down south during the weekdays and I’ll watch the kids. Then he’ll come back on the weekends and be here for all the big events.

I’ve gotten into the habit of taking care of both kids and have a whole support system to help me which makes it more manageable. Since it’s working for us there is no point in changing it or moving as we are happy with the current situation. In fact, we just had our kids parent teacher conferences and thankfully they were amazing further indication that if something is working then it may be best to stick with it.

I think it’s human nature to always look for something else, I know I sure have that tendency to always look for something new or different, whether it is somewhere else to live or getting promoted, but it’s important to remember to stick with something that is working. This will save time and make things more efficient.

Summary

To be adaptable and make the most of your time try the following techniques:

  • Wait a little to react to changes
  • Anticipate changes by having back up plans ready to go
  • Build in Extra Time for Future Plans
  • Acquire additional resources and / or support to assist with unexpected events
  • Continuously learn and keep current career knowledge up to date
  • Try something new
  • Plan ahead and expect the unexpected
  • If something is working stick with it

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