20 Traits Adaptable People Use To Expertly Navigate Life

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Being highly adaptable means you’re able to adjust your approach or mindset based on new information, challenges, or circumstances.

You’re not the kind of person to sit around and mope when things don’t go your way!

Instead, you’re flexible with your approach to life and you’re willing to pivot and, well, adapt.

So, what are the key skills and characteristics required to be an adaptable person?

Let’s delve into the top 20 behaviors that make up the most adaptable people out there…

1. They are resilient.

Part of being an adaptable person hinges on the sustainability of your flexibility.

Put simply, you need to be able to keep being adaptable. And that takes resilience!

Being resilient means that you have the strength and desire to keep going, even in the face of adversity. When things don’t go to plan, you don’t just give up, you push through.

It might sound straightforward, but it takes courage and mental fortitude to continue trying even when the odds feel stacked against you.

2. They excel at creative thinking.

To be adaptable, you need to be able to think outside the box. That means having the ability to adjust your perspective and come up with new ways of looking at things.

As a result, you’ll be able to test different approaches and adapt them as needed, based on what’s working and what isn’t.

You go beyond logical thinking and can access a whole new way of looking at life, which means you’re able to pivot and adapt as needed.

3. They have solid problem-solving skills.

The main reason we need to be adaptable is that not everything goes to plan, right?

So it makes sense that adaptable people can come up with new ideas when the original plan doesn’t work out.

The ability to come up with alternative solutions is all part of being a problem-solver.

You can figure out new ways to move ahead, tackling any issues that come up with both logical and creative thinking.

4. They maintain a positive mindset.

To be a highly adaptable person, you need to have a positive mindset.

Rather than getting bogged down when things aren’t as they seem, you have the kind of mindset that allows you to hope for something better.

You’re not the type of person to give up quickly because you believe in your heart that your plan is going to work out well.

You can keep adapting and evolving because your mindset convinces you that it’s worth it—things could be better and will be better!

5. They are confident in themselves and their abilities.

When it comes to being a highly adaptable person, you need to be confident in your abilities.

It takes bold moves and healthy self-esteem to adapt in the face of adversity.

To go against the status quo or expected norms, you need a strong sense of self—you know your values and morals and aren’t scared to draw on experience to solve new issues.

You know what your skills are, and you’re not afraid to make big decisions because you have faith in yourself and your abilities no matter what the outcome.

This is what allows you to move through life and roll with the punches.

6. They are curious.

Being adaptable means taking new approaches to life’s challenges, which requires a level of curiosity.

You’re interested in how things could be done differently, and you’re always observing and learning from those around you.

You want to know how other people think and navigate life, and you’re inspired by others’ ways of doing things.

You’re excited by the thought of shaking things up, and you revel in seeing the results of your experimental approaches.

7. They are open to feedback.

Whether it’s in the workplace, friendships, or your relationship, to adapt, you need to be open to feedback.

This might include suggestions on how you can become better at your job, or it could be someone telling you how your actions made them feel.

Either way, to grow and evolve as a person, you need to be open to listening and adjusting.

This can feel daunting, and it can be quite scary at first, but it’s worth it if you want to improve your adaptability and flexibility.

8. They have strong research skills.

To adapt, it helps to know a bit about the issue you’re trying to overcome. That’s why having the ability to research and gather information is key to being an adaptable person.

You can look into the problem or circumstance that’s arisen and find out more details that could help you overcome or improve it.

That might be researching what other people have done in the past when faced with the same issue, or it could be drawing on existing resources to solve the problem and move forwards.

9. They know how to work well with others.

Being able to adapt isn’t necessarily a solo endeavor—it often involves working with others to find a new approach.

Teamwork makes the dream work, right?

Being collaborative isn’t just about sharing your thoughts with other people, it’s about creating an environment where others feel heard and want to actively contribute.

If you can collaborate with others, you’re one step closer to becoming a highly adaptable person.

You can come together to find alternative solutions to common issues and can encourage others to speak their minds and share their thoughts.

10. They are open-minded.

Being a highly adaptable person means that you’re open to new ways of doing things—with a real emphasis on the word ‘open.’

By being receptive to other people’s approaches or suggestions, you open yourself up to a whole new world of resources.

What better way to learn than by observing what goes on around you?

The more you can take into account other people’s opinions, the larger the pool of potential solutions you have to draw on next time you’re in a pickle!

11. They are forward-thinking.

If you’re adaptable, you’re able to switch approaches or mindsets based on what’s going on. To do this successfully, you need to be able to think ahead.

Being adaptable is not the same as being impulsive. If it was, people would only be ‘adaptable’ once before realizing the knock-on effects of making rash decisions.

We can all change our opinion, but how many of our snap choices simply work in the short-term and kind of ruin things longer term?

You need to be able to think about the impact of your decisions for them to be the result of adaptability!

12. They aren’t afraid when things don’t go to plan.

When things don’t go to plan, it can be pretty scary—and when you need to come up with a new, unfamiliar approach, it can be even scarier.

Part of being adaptable is not being afraid. If things go wrong, you’re not scared because you know you’ll find a solution.

When it comes to figuring out a new approach, you’re fearless because you have faith in it working out.

That’s not to say you don’t care about consequences, it just means you’re going to throw yourself in your plan and hope for the best!

13. They remain open to change.

Of course, if you’re adaptable, you’re open to change.

If you read ‘open to change’ and instantly cringed or tried to scroll past it, you’re the reason we included it!

So many of us are fearful of change, and we don’t realize it until we’re confronted with the truth that change is required for progress.

This is a skill you can work on. Start small and get comfortable with a bit of fluctuation in life. The more you do it, the more you’ll become an adaptable person!

14. They excel at active listening.

By being an active listener, you absorb more information and become more comfortable taking other people’s opinions and feelings on board.

And with this knowledge, you can take action to change a situation so that it is more inclusive of everyone involved.

15. They have high emotional intelligence.

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes makes you a nice person, sure, but it also sets you up to become a more flexible, adaptable individual.

By having more empathy and respect for those around you, you’re also passively adding their opinions and thoughts to your Rolodex of information!

The more different perspectives you can ‘collect,’ the more of an informed decision you can make for yourself when the time comes.

It also means that you’re better at creating a collaborative space for those around you to share their thoughts, too.

16. They know how to think critically.

Being able to think critically is key to being a highly adaptable individual.

You’re able to assess what’s going on, logically, and think about what makes the most sense.

Critical thinking covers everything from pattern-finding to observation—and all the associated skills will help you make more informed decisions.

You’re able to think about multiple possible outcomes, weigh up the pros and cons of each, and then adapt as necessary!

17. They know how and when to listen to their intuition.

Sometimes, all the logic in the world won’t help you make the ‘right’ decision. Part of being adaptable is going with what feels right and trusting your gut.

Rather than simply analyzing all the information you have available, consider the feelings that arise, too.

Think about how the different potential outcomes make you feel and how that sits with you. That’s just as valuable, if not more so, than analytics and data insights!

Learning to lean into your intuition can be quite scary, but it’s all about learning to trust yourself and knowing that you’re making a choice that feels best for you, whatever the outcome ends up being.

18. They have a growth mindset.

Why would you want to adapt? To move forwards and be better, right?

So, if we reverse that, it makes sense that, to become more adaptable, you need a growth mindset.

This is what will spur you on and encourage you to make decisions that lead to better, more effective outcomes.

You want to overcome challenges, improve your skills, and achieve more, and you know you have to be adaptable to get to those outcomes.

As a result, you’ll automatically start shifting toward a more flexible, open-minded approach to life.

19. They are extremely self-aware.

Any level of development or growth requires self-awareness, and adaptability is no different.

You need to know where you’re at in life to know how to improve and move in the direction you want to.

Being self-aware means you know what you’re good at, as well as the areas you could focus on and develop more.

You’re open to reflecting on your skillset and you’re not afraid to acknowledge the areas that need a bit more work!

20. They are competitive in a healthy way.

There are a few ways we could have worded this (determined, open to challenges, hardworking) but, let’s be honest, a bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.

Being competitive can feel like a burden sometimes as everything becomes an opportunity to be the best/ fastest/ nicest.

That said, having a competitive mindset can come in handy when you’re trying to become more adaptable.

Imagine each issue as a challenge rather than a blocker—it’s not something that’s stopping you from achieving your goal, it’s simply an obstacle you need to overcome.

And to overcome it, you need to be able to adapt, react, and move forwards confidently.

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About The Author

Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.