“Change before you have to.” –Jack Welch
Does the idea of losing your job, moving to a new city, or starting a new career scare you?
In general, people don’t like change, even though change is one of the only guarantees we can expect throughout our lives.
But change doesn’t have to be terrible or scary. Change can be exciting, invigorating, and totally awesome.
I’ve gone through a lot of change in my life. And what I’ve noticed is that people try to advise us on how to deal with change when it comes. They tell us to breathe and be calm, along with a bunch of other unhelpful ‘words of wisdom.’ How do you like it when your stress is through the roof, you’re in the middle of a huge life transition, and someone tells you to “just relax?!”
Why aren’t people telling us how to prepare for change before it happens? Why don’t we strengthen our ability to navigate change just like we strengthen our muscles in the gym or our brains in school?
This is the subject I want to dig into today.
Here are a few personal tips to start preparing for your next inevitable life change before it happens:
Improve Your Life Skills
What areas have you struggled with in the past when you’ve experienced changes in your life?
The key is to find out which skills you need to work on and start improving. Read a book, take a course, or talk to someone more experienced than you. Do what you have to do to build your skills, before change comes knocking on your door.
Create a “Rainy Day” Cash Reserve
Are you bad at saving money? You’re not alone. Luckily there are a ton of resources out there that can help show you how to better manage your money.
That said, having a rainy day fund is imperative (in my opinion) for when change happens. If you don’t see the change coming and you don’t have any money set aside “just in case,” then there will be an added financial stress in your life which will NOT make navigating a transition any easier.
Keep Your Support Network Happy
Who is it that you turn to in times of flux in your life? Perhaps an old friend who has always been there for you or your sister who lives in a different city?
The problem is we often go to these people only when we need to vent. If you only turn to people when you need them, one day they might have their own stuff to deal with instead of time to listen to your problems.
Show them you appreciate them by maintaining their friendship and they’ll be a lot more likely to be there for you when you need them.
Practice Dealing with Stress
When a change or transition enters our lives there’s no question our stress levels will increase. So why not learn to deal with stress when things are ‘calm’ so you have that ability in your back-pocket when the time comes?
Do you get enough sleep? Enough exercise? Do you eat right? There are a lot of things that can affect our stress levels but a lot of them are simple changes we can make to our lives now so that we’re better prepared for the stress of change when it comes.
Face Your (Everyday) Fears
You didn’t think I’d forget to tell you to face your fears, did you?!
Listen, am I more successful after sleeping in a homemade igloo or doing stand-up comedy for the first time? Not yet. But I guarantee the next time a big, unexpected transition arrives I will stop, look back at all the fears I faced, and realize that “If I could do that, I can do this.”
What can you do to face your fears without throwing your life and routine on its head? Start creating fear challenges for yourself and you’ll be much better prepared to face the real challenges when they come.
Instead of reacting to change I think it would do us a lot of good to prepare for change before it happens.
Not only do the preparation steps I’ve outlined above improve your chances for dealing with change, but they will also make your life better. Building new skills, maintaining close friendships, and dealing with stress are things that will help you all the time.
So stop fighting change. Accept it and accept the fact that it’s coming. Prepare for change and next time it happens you’ll attack it like a pro.
Do you have any thoughts or additions to my list on preparing for life changes and transitions? Please share your comments below!