How to prepare for big change

Nick and I are embarking on a major house renovation.

In an effort to be as prepared as possible, we took a week off for a “purge-cation,” i.e. five straight days of sorting, boxing up and throwing out. We hoped to head into the reno, which we know will create its own havoc, feeling as organized as possible.

It got me thinking about how much easier it is to experience change when we’ve planned for it—but how little we actually do that. Sure, some major life changes can’t be anticipated, and we can only react.

But many times, we can see change coming (hello, back-to-school season), or perhaps we’re intentionally creating the change ourselves (vying for a promotion, accepting a new job, etc.), and yet we still aren’t proactive about readying for it.

Let’s flip the script. The next time you’re making a career change, a big move or undergoing a major reno in any aspect of life, follow these steps to feel more prepared.

Step 1: Block off time.

This should be obvious, but sometimes we need to hear it: Planning takes time. It requires at least a few moments of uninterrupted thought. Look ahead, and block off an hour or two a week, or maybe even 15 minutes a day, so that during each period of blocked time, you can complete the next few steps.

Step 2: Enlist help.

Do you need help making sure this change is smooth? Who can you ask to take a look at your resume? Help you pack boxes? Pick up the kids from school? Write your dating profile? Start making calls. If you’re anxious about this step, think about how good it feels when you can help someone. Let others feel that way too.

Step 3: Create rewards for hitting milestones.

Identify benchmarks throughout the transition process, and build in rewards for reaching them to keep yourself motivated. Nick and I set aside time throughout our purge-cation to work out together and grab drinks at a new rooftop bar. It’s part of what we hoped would keep us determined to get things done.

Step 4: Be realistic.

Don’t set yourself up for failure, disappointment, and stress by creating unreasonable goals or imagining unrealistic outcomes. Meaningful transformation takes time. And change often requires patience. Be kind to yourself throughout the process, and make it more enjoyable by keeping your plans realistic.

Want to hear the best part about our purge-cation? Because we were so prepared and focused, it took us only a combined 16 hours to complete our house projects. Which left far more extra time than we had imagined for workouts, day dates and even an impromptu family adventure to Nemacolin. We’re heading into the reno feeling organized, refreshed, and ready.

Whatever change your anticipating, I hope it’s a welcome one—and that you carve out time to make it stellar. If it isn’t welcome, or if you’re looking for more tips on navigating a tough transition, you can download my free guide here.

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