Adapt To Change and Secure Your FutureFebruary 26, 2021 March 21, 2021 /
Your Adaptability Quotient (AQ) will help you adapt to change and help you pursue Financial Independence (FI).
What is Adaptability Quotient? I’m sure that most of you have heard of IQ or Intelligence Quotient – designed to measure, well, your intelligence. There are many standardized tests out there to evaluate your math skills, analytical thinking, logic and memory, and ultimately provide your IQ score.
You may have also heard of the term EQ or Emotional Quotient which became popular in the 1990s. EQ assesses empathy, interpersonal skills, and how well you relate to others. Those with higher EQ can often communicate better, have lower levels of anxiety and stress, are good at conflict resolution, and may also be better at overcoming life’s challenges.
Welcome to the 2020s where we have a new Quotient to add to the mix… the Adaptability Quotient!
What is Adaptability Quotient?
Adaptability Quotient (AQ) is defined as how well you handle change, how open you are to new ideas, and how willing you are to challenge the status quo.
People with high AQ are typically excited to explore something new, have a curiosity for life, have creative ideas, and often ask ‘why?’ or ‘what if?’
Another positive AQ trait is the ability to sift through a lot of information, ignore the less important info, and focus on the most important things. This is a particularly beneficial skill in these days when there is information overload everywhere you look.
Why is our ability to adapt to change important?
You may have noticed that the world is changing FAST these days. Exponential growth in technology is a big factor contributing to the fast pace of change. This IBM study predicts that 120 million jobs will be automated or otherwise taken over by machines by 2023.
Technology is a big contributor to the faster rates of change but it’s not the only one. Just think back to what you were doing in the beginning of 2020, and how much the world has changed since then. The pandemic has certainly changed almost every aspect of our lives, from the way we work, socialize, date, travel, entertain ourselves, raise children, to how we consider and navigate health risks in our day to day lives. Having strong AQ has helped some to not only adapt to, but embrace the ‘new normal,’ and maybe even find ways to thrive under the new circumstances.
What happens when we fail to adapt to change?
The Harvard Business Review does a good job stating the importance of adaptability – “instead of being really good at doing some particular thing, companies must be really good at learning how to do new things.”
Many companies have lost their competitive advantage or even filed for bankruptcy due to their inability to adapt to a changing environment, including Blockbuster, Kodak®, and BlackBerry®.
While this article is referring to companies, I think the same concepts can be applied to individuals; we must adapt to the changing environment or we could lose our ‘competitive advantage’ in life.
All three Quotients (IQ, EQ, and AQ) are important, and complement each other. IQ can help you ace a test or understand a complex problem. EQ helps you to see another person’s point of view, work well on a team, and think about how to motivate others. While AQ helps you navigate a changing environment, explore new options, or imagine how potential disruptors could impact your life.
We are focusing on AQ in this article as the rapidly changing world has elevated the importance of this skill.
So, how does your ability to adapt to change help you on the path to Financial Independence?
Many people are seeking FI by working at a company and being conscious about their spending. Being adaptable at work can allow you to adjust to changes in your job. Or even better, foresee the changes, and proactively take steps to get ahead of or benefit from the impending change.
Challenging the status quo and seeking better ways to do things can help your business thrive in a changing environment.
If you have an open mind and strong work ethic, you can volunteer for projects that are outside your ‘standard job description’. What boss doesn’t love additional help (can you say brownie points?!), and you will probably learn something new and meet new people in the process which could help you in the future.
Those with high AQ are naturally curious and often look for opportunities to add new skills to their repertoire. This can help you obtain a new position, explore a potentially higher earning, in-demand industry, or enter into the world of side hustles to make extra money or entrepreneurship.
Being adaptable can also be beneficial by changing your living situation. You can take advantage of the current increased acceptance of working virtually by moving to a lower cost of living location.
How can I improve my AQ?
So, the good news is that even if you are naturally uncomfortable with change, you can improve your AQ!
One study tested for people’s ability to adapt to change. It divided the participants into two groups – one that was given the challenge with no instruction on the purpose of the experiment and the second group was presented with the same challenge but they were told that they would be measured on their adaptability. The second group fared much better than the first, demonstrating that just the DESIRE to be more adaptable helps improve your adaptability.
But like the saying goes “old habits die hard” especially when they have contributed to your past success. It will take time and effort to change the way you think, so be patient and kind with yourself.
3 ways to improve your Adaptability Quotient
- Don’t dwell on the past
- Make an effort to do something new every day
- Hold a life strategy session
1. Don’t dwell on the past
Your brain likes to look for meaning in the past or some explanation for why the change happened. Try to minimize focusing backwards or rehashing the past. Instead try to accept that things have changed, and look for what you could do now given the new situation. Instead of asking why do bad things happen to good people?, you could change it around and ask what can good people do when bad things happen?
2. Make an effort to do something new every day
Trying something new gets your brain and body out of their comfort zone and can stimulate new neural pathways. A few examples may be taking a different route while walking the dog or writing your To Do List with your non-dominant hand. You can also try a new YouTube workout video, change your watch or phone to military time, or make a new recipe. Or you can be a bit more adventurous and follow Max Hawkins’ example in letting his randomized algorithm choose where he will live next.
3. Hold a life strategy session
Do you have a friend, partner, trusted coworker or family member that you love to brainstorm with? Do you prefer to think in solitude?
Why not hold a Life Strategy Session?
Consider the following questions when holding a life strategy session:
- How can you enhance your skills?
- What challenges are your company/business facing and what can you do to help adapt?
- Are there potential threats that you can identify and is there anything you can do now to help prepare for them?
- What interests or passions do you have outside of your ‘day job’?
- Is there something that you’re really good at that you want to share with others?
- Do you see a problem or inconvenience that you can help alleviate?
- Is there an opportunity created by a market/large scale change (eg pandemic)?
Is there a way to develop a project or side hustle based on your thoughts regarding the above questions?
Side hustles may start out as a hobby or passion project. However, it may turn into supplemental income or even a sustainable business.
The need for the ability to adapt to change doesn’t change
AQ and fast-paced change may be the latest buzzwords, but the importance of adaptability is not a new concept.
I think Charles Darwin put it best in On The Origin of Species way back in 1859:
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
By Jessica Wang