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7 Ways To Be More Adaptive In This Fast-Changing World

7 Ways To Be More Adaptive In This Fast-Changing World
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#ProTip – pull out the quarters, and pay Coinstar to convert the rest to paper, so you don’t look as poor as you actually are…

A few years back, Barrack Obama impressed everyone and won the presidency of the United States on a platform of change. Midway through his second term, his constituents are standing in the streets begging for a different kind of change, as they’ve lost their homes and gone broke while their government turns their back on rampant financial fraud in the banking industry.

Regardless of who’s in power, change is the only constant in our lives. As soon as you get used to something, it’ll be different. Whether you’re at work, home or anywhere in between, we live in a fast-changing world, and you need to be adaptive.

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1. Acknowledge There Is No Right Way

I grew up in a military family. Everything was strictly regimented and scheduled. There were a variety of chores and tasks with one, and only one, way to accomplish them.

When I grew up, I realized there is no one right way – my parents were simply training me to do things their way. The “right” way to do things changes as soon as someone figures out a better way, and if it’s not you, it’ll be someone else. Either try out new ways of doing things or follow those who do.

2. Join The Collective Consciousness

There’s value to thinking outside the box, but if you go too far out, you disconnect from the collective consciousness and look crazy to everyone else. The key to being different is understanding how to bridge the gap between you and everyone else. This is what separates a leader from a lone nut.

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3. Avoid Predictive Hubris

You know who’s annoying? That know-it-all friend we all have who’s been there and done anything you could possibly come up with. Every idea you have, they know exactly why it’ll fail, despite never having tried it themselves.

In order to adapt to change, you have to accept both how things are and how they could be. Instead of immediately shooting down every idea and infuriating everyone around you, suck up your pride and try out the new way. Nobody cares how you’ve always done things – change is inevitable, and you don’t want to be left behind.

4. Keep An Open Mind

It’s impossible to accept a change you refuse to recognize. Minorities exist. Homosexuals exist. Hundreds of religions exist. Women exist. Everyone ages and dies.

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All of these truths have existed since the dawn of man. None of us grew up in a world where everyone is the same. Accept people for their differences; otherwise, you’re an obstacle to change, and you’ll never get ahead in life.

5. Communicate With Your Circles

Sometimes the only way you even notice change is by talking to people, and that’s also how to adapt to it. When you talk to your friends and family about impending change, they’ll provide feedback and open your mind to new perceptions of the changes. They may guide you through how to adapt. At the very least, they’ll listen while you figure it out.

6. Blaze Your Own Trail

The easiest way to adapt to change is to be the catalyst affecting it. When I worked for the banks, the constant changes in my daily routines were caused by government regulations, lawsuits, etc., that changed our processes. When I left my career at the bank to dedicate my life to fighting them, I became the cause of all their regulations over the past three years.

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It doesn’t matter what ring of the ladder you’re on, you can shake the entire thing. Never allow anyone to tell you that you can’t do something the way you think it should be done. If you’re wrong, at least you’ll have learned something from the experience of trying.

7. Question Everything

Religion is a funny thing – you follow all sorts of traditions with no real understanding of why. In the Catholic church, we imbibed wine and bread to represent the blood and body of Christ. I never knew Jesus personally (an unfortunate side effect of my inability to time travel), but I know if I were a leader or martyr, the last thing I’d want is my followers eating my flesh, drinking my blood, and wearing crosses to celebrate my torturous death.

When you’re told to do something, ask why. If something changes, ask what inspired the change. You were given a brain for a reason; use it. Change is difficult to deal with, but if you work at it, you can adapt to anything. Just keep your head up, smile and push through. Soon enough, you’ll be the change everyone else has to adapt to.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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