Adapting to Change

Still discussing how to navigate the transitions in life:

First, you Activate Commitment.

Second, you Develop Resources.

Next you Adjust Expectations.

When we start out through a transition, we have expectations on how it will go.  Marriage and raising children isn’t as easy as we thought it would be.  The joy of owning your first new car passes but the car payment remains.  You thought it would be exciting to move out on your own, but in reality, you are more homesick than you expected.

Our expectations don’t always fall short either.  Sometimes your reality exceeds what you expected.  Giving up smoking may be easier than you thought.  A job you thought was beyond your capabilities can be easier than you expected.  A long separation from your family goes quicker than you thought it would. Grits taste better than you expected.

Usually, it’s best when what you expected is exceeded.  When that occurs, it speeds the transformation that comes from a change.  “That was easier or better or nicer than I thought it would be” creates a “change friendliness” that will usually work out for us in the end.

But, when expectations fall short or are dramatically derailed, the transition can be derailed.  In fact, many people get stuck in life because of their expectations not being met and a failure to adjust.

When I was in high school, I went to a basketball camp by myself.  I didn’t know a soul.

I was excited to go.  I had an uncle drop me off and, as he drove off, I got this sinking feeling of loneliness.  In a couple of hours, I was ready to call and ditch camp so I could get back in my comfort zone.

I didn’t expect the loneliness.  It came upon me with no warning.  I had to deal with the change mentally.

I wrote a couple of letters.  I reached out to meet a few guys who were from areas close to where I lived.  I talked myself into “blooming where I was planted.”

In the next six days, I learned more about basketball than I had learned in my whole career until then.  It was one of the most stimulating experiences of my life.  I would not have been the same without it. And, most important, I learned that loneliness could be overcome.  The next time I faced it, I was ready.

Whether you have a change forced on you or you choose to begin one on your own, it’s almost certain it will not go like you expected.  There will be things easier and things harder.  And things you never saw coming, both good and bad.

The successful ADAPTer isn’t surprised when those expectations aren’t met. She doesn’t become paralyzed when they hit. She thinks through and acts through them.  As they come, she thinks “I knew this would be so.  How does this change things for me?  How shall I proceed?”