6 habits of people who are highly adept at dealing with change

Change can be both good and bad, and it often happens beyond our control.

You might be actively working towards changing something for the better

You might wake up tomorrow and be hit with a big, unexpected life change.

So how do you prepare for the unexpected?

If change isn’t something you naturally embrace, there’s a lot you can learn from how people who are highly adept at dealing with change behave.

These change-adept people often engage in the following habits:

1) They reflect on how change makes them feel

Faced with uncomfortable change, many people will engage in an unconscious fight or flight type response. 

They might respond to an unexpected change with anger and hostility. 

For example, reacting to a partner telling you that they want to end a relationship by screaming and yelling and setting the house on fire, and begging them to stay.

Or, they might respond by withdrawing. 

Losing a job or being told that someone doesn’t want to go ahead with a proposal might cause someone to feel lackluster and unmotivated. They might be tempted to hide themselves away and avoid the shame of every being told “no” again.

Basically, they will drag their heels in and try with all their might to allow the change from happening, or stick their head in the sand and pretend it’s not going ahead.

People who are highly adept at dealing with change are still human. 

They experience the same wave of fight or flight response. 

They’re just skilled at being aware of their emotions and recognize when an immediate emotional response will hinder their ability to harness change to their advantage.

2) They manage their emotional response

Emotions do not have an on and off button. 

However, you can work on controlling them. 

Or rather, you can work on how much your emotions control you.

To adapt to change means to reflect on your emotional response and feel the fear, then implement methods to avoid letting it consume you.

People who are highly adept at dealing with change use habits and techniques to regulate their emotions.

They have a skill set of coping strategies under their sleeves. 

Individual for every person, it might include some of the following habits:

  • Journaling your emotions to better define them
  • Practicing mindfulness to reflect on what emotions you are feeling and what has triggered them
  • Engaging in positive self-talk, for example replacing “I’m terrified of moving to a new city, I’ll feel so alone” with “I’m excited about exploring a new city and meeting new people”
  • Self-care habits such as exercise, hobbies, or socializing that help relieve stress and anxiety

3) They push themselves beyond their comfort zone

The best things in life happen outside of the comfort zone.

Unfortunately, humans are creatures of habit.

You can wake up at the same time every day, eat the same breakfast, go to work, focus on the same projects, go home and sleep, then rinse and repeat. 

You might find comfort in the stability and monotony of such a rigid and structured routine. 

But living the same day, every day, never pushing yourself to try new experiences, meet new people, or consider new ideas, means that there is no room for growth.

People who are highly adept at dealing with change shake things up, constantly. 

That doesn’t mean that they absolutely have to have a different breakfast every day else they’ll expire, but they do push themselves outside of their comfort zone. 

In the words of Brené Brown, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”.

Embracing uncertainty and opening yourself up to change takes a great deal of courage and vulnerability. 

Change-adept individuals know this, and don’t run from change when it comes knocking at the door.

4) They incorporate outside perspectives and feedback

the psychology of self esteem 6 habits of people who are highly adept at dealing with change

My way or the highway

Not in the vocabulary of people who deal well with change. 

They don’t insist that they know best, nor do they put their hands over their ears when advised to do things differently.

Whilst people who are adept at dealing with change have an open mind and consider all options, they know that outside input is critical to broadening their horizons even further. 

They’re aware that their own thinking will be limited by certain biases and restrictions. 

The missing piece of the puzzle needed to ensure success might well be provided by someone on the outside, looking in. 

Only through asking for feedback and welcoming constructive criticism can every possibility be explored. 

Change-adept individuals know that an open mind gets you places, but a multitude of open minds will slingshot you to the moon. 

5) They think ahead

Expect the unexpected is a pretty good mantra for those who are adept at dealing with change.

Of course, you can never plan and prepare for absolutely every outcome, but it doesn’t hurt considering all the options you can think of. 

Part of this is being present and open-minded.

Reading the news. 

Gauging public opinion. 

Considering outside factors.

Big changes can sneak up on you out of nowhere. 

But sometimes, they’re not so difficult to imagine.

Without straying too far into overthinking and overanalyzing to the extent where it consumes your every thought, planning and thinking ahead is an incredibly useful tool for managing change.

Individuals who are highly adept at dealing with change know this, so they consider all pathways that their choices might lead them to. 

They’re masters at mental chess.

This might not mean building a bunker and preparing for a zombie apocalypse, but they certainly are keeping a set of ‘what-ifs’ in mind.

6) They don’t panic when something doesn’t work out

Whilst people who are adept at dealing with change set goals and think ahead, they don’t panic and throw in the towel when something doesn’t go according to plan.

They accept that failure and rejection are part of life.

In the face of a setback that pushes them off their intended course, these individuals will divert their thought process to see this change not as a negative, but as a new pathway.

This applies to changes big and small: 

Someone who doesn’t bake, who wants to bake, whose first homemade chocolate cake comes out tasting like ash could respond by saying this is too difficult. I’m never baking again, I’m going off to Costco to get a premade chocolate cake.

They could also take a deep breath and give it another go, asking a baking enthusiast friend for advice and trying a new recipe.

Someone who gets told that the start-up vision they’ve spent all their life dreaming about just doesn’t have a place in the world could bin off the idea and settle for a 9-5 in an area where they have no interest.

They could also sit down, seek outside input on their vision, and try a new approach.

People who are highly adept at dealing with change don’t see one closed door as a sign that they should give up. 

Instead, it’s an indicator that they need to try something new.

Help! I’m still scared of change…

And that’s okay. 

Even the most change-adept individuals will still struggle when it comes to big, unexpected life changes, like losing a loved one. 

No one expects you to come prepared for every scenario and react in an emotionless, robotic manner when something does push you outside of your comfort zone. 

After all, our emotional response is part of what makes us human.

However, when it comes to dealing with practical changes that life poses, these habits can help you to find a more fluid approach to navigating challenges. 

It won’t be easy. 

Even those adept at dealing with change still struggle, but through incorporating these habits, they’re a little closer at being prepared for the unexpected. 

To prepare for change, the first change you need to make is within yourself.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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