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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

How to Prepare for Change

Miranda finally got the job she wanted. After 10 years of doing jobs that were beneath her skills, making the necessary connections, and settling for minimal pay, Miranda landed the job of her dreams. She knew that it was going to require a shift in her lifestyle due to the increase in travel. But she was ready for this challenge. Miranda wisely decided to take a couple of weeks off in between jobs to prepare for her new vocation.

After 15 years of marriage and two years of court proceedings, Isaac’s divorce was finalized.  He was ready for this change in his lifestyle and relieved that it was finally over. However, the holidays hit him harder than he expected, and he quickly found himself depressed. Isaac decided that it was time to take a couple of weeks off to mourn the end of his marriage and make plans for his new life.

Watching the stages of Alzheimer’s progress was torture for Reba. Her father was a bright, successful, and active man who was now confined to a wheelchair. He no longer recognized Reba, often mistaking her for his assistant of 30 years. The last time she visited him, he could not feed himself any longer and his words were muffled. Reba knew the end of his life was near and chose to plan for it.

There are other major life changes that occur with or without prior knowledge. It could be a child leaving for college, a move, permanent disability, or a significant shift in health. Knowing that a change is impending allows a person to choose the timing of their preparation. Not knowing means that preparations are made quickly or not at all.

The benefits of preparing for a change are a greater sense of peace, control, and awareness. All these factors increase wisdom and understanding that can be utilized in other situations. Here are seven steps in dealing momentous change:

  1. Acknowledge the change. The first step is to acknowledge that something is about to change. It is important to name that change and have some understanding if the change is permanent or temporary. For Reba, the shift in her father’s condition was permanent because he would not get any better and temporary because he would continue to decline.
  2. Generate a timeline. The next step is to formulate a timeline for the change. This might include a list of deadlines on a to-do list or it might be a plan of worst-case scenarios. Since Miranda was changing companies, she decided not to burn any bridges from her old job. Just in case this one did not work out, she wanted a chance to return.
  3. Timing is everything. Just because the change is coming does not mean that it is the right time to start on the plan. Be watchful of the early warning signs before beginning to implement the plan. Isaac experienced this with his grieving process over the divorce. He couldn’t start grieving until the holidays hit and the realization that holidays will be different going forward sank in.
  4. Just get started. It is not uncommon for a person to procrastinate when a change is on the horizon. Setting small daily goals helps to push through the procrastination. Miranda had a lot of items on her to-do list as she needed a wardrobe that was travel ready. Unfortunately, she hated shopping so instead of trying to do it all at once, she went to one store a day until she was done.
  5. Take a break. This is perhaps the most important part of any change. Taking time out to rest just before a major shift in life helps to mentally and physical readjust to the new circumstances. After a frustrating Thanksgiving, Isaac decided to take a couple of weeks off to grieve the loss of old dreams and instead create new dreams for his future. But he also took a complete break from everyone by going away for several days to his favorite beach for some rest and relaxation.
  6. Embrace the struggle. All change brings about a period of struggle and battle. The previous steps help a person to successfully navigate the difficult time period of adjustment and tweak any necessary short-comings. Reba struggled with the slow loss of her dad. She felt like she was grieving in bits and pieces. But instead of ignoring the frustration, she embraced it as a sign of how much her dad meant to her.
  7. Evaluate and reflect. At the end of the process, it is good to evaluate and reflect on what worked and what needed improving. This information is invaluable for the next change in life. Miranda, Isaac, and Reba took some time to write out the lessons they learned from their experience, so they would not forget the wisdom that was gained.

Not planning for a change can knock a person down. Instead of it being a time for sustainable growth. But without the most important step of taking a break, the change can easily exhaust and overwhelm.

How to Prepare for Change

 


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2018). How to Prepare for Change. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2018/12/how-to-prepare-for-change/