Adaptability, Resilience and Resourcefulness: What I learned from my small kitchen…

by | Oct 27, 2020 | Coaching, Reflections

Anyone who has lived in or visited a New York City apartment knows the kitchen is usually the size of a tiny box. I remember moving into my cozy dwelling and appraising my new kitchen, thinking, “how the hell am I supposed to cook in here?”  The first few weeks navigating my new kitchen were a joke. I didn’t have enough space. Where was I supposed to put my cutting boards? Where was I going to do my food prep? Nothing fit anywhere. The toaster I had in my house dwarfed my tiny countertops. I felt out-of-place cooking in my new apartment.

Fast forward a few years. One morning, while standing in my kitchen pouring my coffee, I got the brilliant idea to move my toaster from one counter to the other; allowing more surface area for food prep. I was excited! More space! However, shortly after I implemented my stroke of genius, I realized I was not using my newly created space. I was still balancing my cutting board and various plates and bowls on the small ledge in front of my sink—a trick I had developed when I first moved in and was trying to figure out how to cook in my box. It also occurred to me that I had learned to use every spare inch of my space in ways I never would have imagined.

You may be wondering why in the world I’m telling you all of this. Stay with me.

I had an epiphany. What started out as weird, new, uncomfortable and sometimes frustrating, became familiar, comfortable and routine. I had adapted. It was almost second nature. I didn’t even have to think about it. I became quite skilled and agile at using that tiny (and precarious) space on my ledge. I found comfort in what was once new; and it now felt weird to stray from my “system” and use the new space I created, even though, arguably, it would make food prep easier (and safer).

I felt this way when I was laid off and starting a new business. Figuring out what I didn’t know.  Getting better at things I never did before. Assessing who to ask for help, and where I needed the help. I still feel this way as a business owner. It’s a whole new world, and I’ve learned even in our darkest hours, we are incredibly adaptable, resilient and resourceful creatures who eventually find our own solutions; whether the problems are in our kitchen, in our careers, or elsewhere in our lives. 

Maybe you are struggling with professional or personal changes that are creating discomfort or hardship for you. You might be longing for what was, or struggling to figure out how to adapt to your new circumstances. Many of my clients are in this situation, and it’s no surprise. These are tough times and there is plenty of uncertainty to go around.

Here is a framework I use to help my clients when they are struggling to adapt to something new; especially when the change is not by choice, and it looks to be more permanent than temporary:

  1. Think back.  Think about a time when you successfully faced something new. How did it feel at the beginning? How did it feel moving toward proficiency? What did you learn?
  2. Think about a time when you drove to a new place and had to use GPS or directions to get there. How did it feel at first? Was it uncomfortable? Maybe you even made a few wrong turns, or the GPS got you lost (been there, done that). After you drove there a few times, how was it different? Perhaps you found a landmark to guide you; or a short cut which shaved time off.
  3. Visualize yourself in the future. Picture yourself six months from now. What do you want that picture to look like? List out all of the possibilities. Nothing is off the table. Even if it seems silly, or crazy, write it down. How will you achieve your vision? What help do you need to get there?

I encourage you to look for the opportunities in front of you.  Do what you have to in order to adapt to your new situation or discover your new path. If I can help you, please message me here, or contact me at

Photo credit: Jen Theodore via

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Nancy Jacoby,

Nancy is a registered nurse, recovering hospital administrator and ICF certified coach and consultant. She leads individuals, teams and organizations in growth, development and process improvement to yield sustained change and desired outcomes. 

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Nancy Jacoby, RN, MBA, MHSA, FACHE, ACC  |  212.779.2049  |  Connect on LinkedIn

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