In this time of uncertainty, even the largest organizations are rethinking their operations to be more agile. The disruption of the pandemic has forced businesses to adapt; otherwise, they face the prospect of eventual failure.
We have all been affected by the chaos of the past few months. And yet not everyone seems to be taking the lessons of the business world to heart. By adopting the principle of flexibility, we can become more resilient. Even in a turbulent world, we can open ourselves to the possibility of enjoying the future.
Learning from the body
When you mention flexibility, people often think of it in the physical sense. And while being physically flexible has nothing to do with having flexibility in life, it does offer some useful insights and parallels to what we need to strive for.
Most of us who have issues with physical flexibility are prone to feeling body pains or suffering injuries, especially as we grow old. But we aren’t born this way. Kids learn to explore the world actively and move with their bodies in many natural ways.
Our bodies lose flexibility by settling into modern, sedentary lifestyles. We stand, walk, and sit down hunched in front of a screen for hours. We lose a variety of natural movements.
Those muscles we don’t use will gradually shorten and lose elasticity. It takes more effort to move our bodies in different ways when we need to; it limits what we can do. Ultimately, we experience fear and discomfort when attempting to move differently.
Just like our bodies lose flexibility, our lives have become predictable and boring. Innocuous bad habits, such as wasting hours as passive consumers of entertainment, become entrenched without our even realizing it.
Many people have become so inflexible that they are afraid to try out new experiences. Breaking out of the accepted patterns of thought and behavior takes too much effort. (It’s no wonder innovation and creativity are so highly in demand.)
Regaining your flexibility
Have you ever had to turn down the opportunity to travel, hang out with friends, tackle a side project, or take your career in a different direction? Were you held back by fear of the costs or consequences or the illusion that you had no other choice?
If you want to start reclaiming flexibility in your life, you need to understand the factors, events, and choices that have led you to compromise in the first place. Flexibility in life is about having options, time, resources, and fewer commitments. Can you think of moments when you chose to give these up? Was the exchange worth it? And are the terms still worthwhile in the present?
Your job is one area that should come under intense scrutiny. Sure, everybody needs to earn a living. But once you’re employed, do you take ownership of your further development? Are you actively seeking out opportunities to move forward? Or do you settle down and completely surrender to your employer?
You can’t rest on your college degree or other qualifications. Every year, dozens of graduates with the same level of attainment enter the labor pool. And while you might have more experience, they will be armed with the skills of tomorrow.
If you waste your time, effort, and money on frivolous leisure, you are unwittingly giving up career flexibility. Your employer gains the upper hand in their dealings with you. They can pile up your workload and stress with barely adequate compensation because you’ve failed to create options for yourself.
The same thing goes for finances. If you have some money left over after covering your monthly bills and basic expenses, how often do you set it aside? Spend unwisely in the short term, and you could end up regretting the opportunity to avail of excellent car loan rates or make significant long-term investments.
A path to freedom
Throughout our lives, there are countless ways in which we end up exchanging our flexibility for something else. You can’t avoid them all; drifting through life entirely free of commitments or responsibilities can be just as bad.
What you need is awareness and a critical appraisal of real value. Why feel pressured to socialize, or to buy something, when you know it won’t yield returns in the long run? Do what you need to survive; keep the remainder of your time and resources open to be invested for maximum benefit to yourself.
We can’t all be a part of the ultra-rich, the 1% of society. But you don’t have to be in that class to enjoy equality and the real-world freedom to pursue opportunities and interests. Maintain flexibility in your life, and you can find stable footing while being able to do what you love and aspire to upward mobility for yourself and your children.