How to Adapt to Change … Even If You Crave Predictability


Not everyone finds it easy to adapt to change. In fact, many prefer the status quo and really just wish people would stop shaking things up. If that sounds like you, here’s what you need to know.

When I started my career, I was firmly in the “just keep things the same at work” category. I preferred predictability. Over the years, though, I’ve had many curveballs thrown my way professionally and I’ve learned that my “mindset of yesteryears” just had to go. To be successful in today’s fast-paced world, I needed to learn to adapt to whatever happened in the workplace – and quickly.

You may think you’re an adaptable person, but give it more serious thought. What if you learned tomorrow you were being reassigned to another group in the company? Or what if that boss you admire decides to leave and is replaced by a difficult colleague? How painful would that be for you?

Here are some tips that can help you when challenged with change:

Ask questions

One Halloween, my boss called our editorial team into his office and told us our publication was sold to a publisher across the country. The news came out of nowhere and I drudged home assuming I lost my job. Had I asked some pressing questions right then and there, I could have saved myself a lot of angst and panic by learning the specifics. The next day, I was relieved to learn we were all offered jobs with a sister publication and simply needed to learn a new industry and move down the hall. The big lesson: Don’t hesitate to ask questions if the details aren’t clear when a new development is presented at work. Leaders are often moving quickly and focusing on the big picture, and can therefore sometimes overlook sharing key information or details that are pertinent (or even critical!) to you.

Accept the new reality

Part of being flexible is getting your mindset into acceptance mode. This means putting aside your personal feelings about the change at hand and focusing on how you’ll adapt going forward. Maybe you were a master with your company’s database system and now you have to start from scratch learning a new application. There’s no point wasting time wishing things could stay the same.

Start focusing on next steps. What type of training is on the agenda? When will the transition to the new system take place? What can you do now to prepare for this change? Looking ahead will ease the transition and keep you from getting tangled up in the past.

Be a calm supporter

Even if you’re not wild about the new developments, keep a positive attitude. Managers will notice who is adaptable and who is resistant. Aim to be the admin who points out the potential benefits of the change to others showing less flexibility. And if things don’t go as well as anticipated once change is implemented, look for the humor in the situation and help to keep the mood light at the office.

Think creatively

You may also find you’re the agent of change after you realize a tried-and-true approach at work is no longer the best way to go. Even those who crave predictability can find themselves being the ones advocating new ideas when they recognize a better way of doing things. Always be on the lookout for ways your company can improve – and help guide others down the new path.

How do you manage when faced with change?

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