Preparing Yourself for Change

Sometimes change hits us like a bullet train, and there’s nothing we can do to avoid it.  We don’t see it coming, and we can’t understand why it happened. All we can do is hold on for dear life as we plunge into a new unfamiliar world.

But not all change comes without foresight.  Oftentimes, change looms like Godzilla lumbering towards Tokyo.  Mothers have a 9-month leeway before having a baby, for example.  High school seniors know when they graduate and afterwards the first day of college.  People can predict even less obvious changes, such as knowing their company will go through a series of lay-offs months before the axe falls. Simply paying attention to the world around you gives you insight on what might happen next.

During times like these, it is tempting to ignore impending change. We want to savor stability a few more moments before our lives change.  Procrastination, however, can hurt your chances of having a smooth transition. You can recover more quickly and thrive in new circumstances if you give yourself time to prep for changes.  Below are a few things you can do early on to prepare yourself for a change you see coming.

Create a list of positive outcomes. Even the most flexible people can become overwhelmed by change.  Start your mental preparation by thinking about all the good things that will come of this change.  Make sure to refer back to this list often as you slide from your old life to the new.  This will remind you why change, even if it is frustrating, can lead to better things.

Make plans for negative consequences. Only you can decide which negative outcomes are easy to bear and which ones will make your life miserable.  For the latter, plan a few coping mechanisms to get you through. This might mean devoting more time to stress-reducing activities (such as exercise) or deciding to spend more personal time on yourself during the first few weeks of change.

Let your loved ones know how the change might affect you and them. We often forget changes not only affect us, but those around us.  Whenever possible, give your loved ones a heads up on how the change might affect you and your relationship with them. Some changes require more of your time, meaning you have less time for socialization.  Giving them a heads up helps them to understand why you might be more stressed during the change period.  Your loved ones may surprise you by helping you through the transition.

Identify your constants. Even a huge personal change, like moving to another country, doesn’t mean everything you ever knew will disappear.  You can still maintain relationships with loved ones, enjoy favorite hobbies, or even establish a familiar morning routine.  Identifying things that will remain the same, and keeping them the same, will help give your life a semblance of consistency amidst change.

And remember, once change hits, you should always…

Give yourself time to adjust. No matter how well prepared you may be, things will occur that you cannot expect.  Remember that you will need an adjustment period to get used to the change.  Try not to let new circumstances completely overwhelm you at first.  Taking things one day at a time, rather than looking forward into next month or next year, can make the change more bearable.

Ultimately, change can be good or bad.  It is always up to you to decide if a change is for the better or for the worse.  However, if you give yourself time to prepare for change, you might surprise yourself on how much you can accomplish.

Deborah Fike

Deborah Fike is a full-time mom and founder of Avalon Labs, which provides consultations and writing services for start-ups and online businesses. She believes in the power of self-reflection and positive change.

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18 Comments

  1. Hi Deborah.

    I enjoyed reading this post about planning for change to buoy us up with all of the whirring around us. Although staying present and mindful of the change is so important, I think you are spot on about the need to prepare.

    Recently, one of my closest friends switched jobs requiring her to move to another state. As much as she and her friends wanted her to take this wonderful opportunity when it actually happened last week, she was full of sadness. I think this is the part that we sometimes forget. When we step forward to a change, even one we desire, we must bid adieu to what is familiar and comfortable. Thus, some grieving may be in the mix of our emotions.

    Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback, Susie. It’s true that change can bring about a grieving process. I don’t think you can prepare yourself to get 100% past this process, but you can lighten your emotional load a little.

      Reply
  2. Hi Deborah,

    Change is the only constant in this world. There is really nothing that we can take for granted and nothing really remains the same. While there are many changes that can take us unawares, there are also changes that we can plan and prepare for. As you say, sometimes change looms like Godzilla lumbering into Tokyo. It is so obvious that we cannot miss it unless we choose to ignore it. I enjoyed reading the points you’ve shared on how to prepare for a change. While all the points are useful, one point stood out for me.

    Make plans for negative consequences.

    If we plan for the worst case scenario, we will be in a good position to mitigate the negative effects of change. Even so, it is a struggle since part of us hopes that the worst won’t happen so we might just overlook it in the process. This could have fatal consequences if that happens. Whatever it is, it is good to have a backup plan just in case something goes wrong. It serves as a good safety net.

    I would also like to add that the best laid plans do not often go as planned. In such a case, it is important to always focus on the solution and not the problem. When we are able to be like water which keeps on flowing over and around obstacles to make it to the ocean, we will be able to handle most changes that life has for us.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    Reply
    • Great point that even the best laid plans can go awry. Even if you plan, you can’t expect change to go exactly as you hope. Being like “water” as you say and focusing on unanticipated solutions can help ease with the transition.

      Reply
  3. Awesome article Deborah.
    Making a list of positive outcomes really makes change easier to accept.
    I am much for making plans, but I do want to add that it is important not to dwell. Make plans and then let them go until the negative situation arises, otherwise forget the plan all together.

    It was great that you added the part about telling the people around you, if they don’t know about the impending change they might be as shocked as you would have been if you hadn’t forseen it.

    Great article, thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • I agree that the point isn’t to worry yourself by dwelling, but to prepare. Definitely something to add to the list. Thanks, Daniel.

      Reply
  4. Hey Deborah,

    I too agree with Daniel regarding “Let your loved ones know how the change might affect you and them”. Things come as a shock to yourself sometimes so its without a doubt that the loved ones around you will also feel the shock. Letting them know is a great way to bring them in without causing worry.

    -ariana

    Reply
    • Ariana: It’s amazing how a little consideration can go a long way, not only for your loved ones, but for yourself, in times of change.

      Reply
  5. Hi Deborah
    in such a world with fast changing events and a fast pace of life we are all in need of the advice you gave
    Thank you for giving us such insights and keep up the good work

    Reply
  6. This is a good write up especially for the first stage of change.

    Reply
    • Good point that this is just for first stage. You’d need a different set of advice as you undergo change.

      Reply
  7. Those are really good points you made. Having those plans for the worst case scenario really helps build your confidence that you can get through the change.

    Reply
    • And hopefully, whatever happens won’t be worst case, so you’ll feel even doubly prepared! :)

      Reply
  8. Change has occurred so often (in my working life at least) that I have become used to it and even desire it to a certain extent. In fact, sometimes, it just not happen soon enough for me. Nice article. Thanks.

    Reply
    • I think there’s something to needing a bit of change, especially at work. Like you, I’m more happy when I have an opportunity to grow and try new things, rather than stay doing the exact same job for several years.

      Reply
  9. Great Post Deborah :) lot of intelligent stuffs which can just make our life welcome all kind of changes and also make us not bother others in our life because of the changes….
    I wish I had got such article to read a few years ago, I would never have bothered anyone in my life because I am going through some changes or shifts in my life….
    Article is short but gives a huge message, I love reading such articles. Keep up good work….
    Since “change is inevitable”, its better to have a proper plan for it and also keep the people in your life posted about it to avoid shockers….

    Roopa
    http://www.glint.im

    Reply
    • Glad you found the article useful, Roopa. I’m a natural planner, so I’ve found these things help me transition through change.

      Reply

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