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.