When Adapting Becomes a Bad Thing

I’ve always prided myself on being adaptable. If I have plans to clean the house but a friend wants to get together, I’ll prioritize the friend. If I’m working on a project at work and someone needs help, I typically drop my project to help.

I think being adaptable is a good thing – the only constant is change, right? But just like anything, there is a balance. In the past, I’ve found myself adapting to changing circumstances to the detriment of my own success and priorities. I kept adapting to others’ needs and suddenly realized that my own to-do list kept getting put on the back burner.

That meant that I was up too late trying to get stuff done, or stuck at work late trying to finish a task. At work, I found that projects that are important to me (and the organization’s goals) were getting pushed to the side so that I could deal with another issue. As this happened more and more, I finally had the realization that I was being too adaptable. Too adaptable!? I’ve always seen being adaptable as my greatest strength – but I soon found that it became my biggest weakness when I lost balance. Anything out of balance can be negative. If I jump anytime I feel an obligation to jump, how do my feet stay planted long enough to take action on my priorities?

This past year brought a focus on organization and prioritization. I let go of the “people pleaser syndrome” (well, some – I’m still working on that one). But what I found that I was able to make decisions with my priorities in focus. My head was clearer and I was calmer.

Now, I’m not implying that I plan to stop adapting to changing circumstances or priorities, but this realization was an important one. What it came down to was starting to check in with myself and assess the balance between adapting versus staying on course based on the priority.  This priority assessment and the space between the need and my taking action is just a check in away.


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