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3 Ways to Prepare Yourself For a Major Life Change

05/17/2015 10:44 EDT | Updated 05/17/2016 05:59 EDT
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Confession time. After Googling "quotes on change" and hoping to find inspiration for a witty opening gambit, only to wade through pages drowning in more than 2,000 bland clichés, I decided to cut to the chase. Here are my two cents:

Change is hard.

Yep. It's that simple. Change is a challenging process and it requires a gargantuan effort. But it is, of course, worth it when you're working towards something you are truly passionate about and which aligns with where you want to be in the long run.

There are a number of times in my life when I've experienced significant changes. One life event that stands out is emigrating from England to Canada in the middle of the recession. And let me tell you that was no day at the beach. A more recent change is my decision to leave a career in public relations to set up my own business and create my coaching practice.

Combining my own experience with the work I've done with my clients, I've observed themes that support change. Simply put, some things work better than others.

Here are three things that make managing a major life change just a little bit easier.

1. Practical planning and preparation

It might sound snooze-worthy, but it's absolutely essential you thoroughly prepare before making a change in your life. If you're the type of person who wants to dive right in and get started without a second thought (I feel you -- I used to be the same!), please proceed with caution.

While it's great that you're highly motivated, make sure you take a step back and formulate a plan. As simple as it sounds, writing down a goal with action steps will help you enormously. If you're aiming to make the change in six months, work backwards and write down all of the items you need to check off to ensure it all happens and goes as smoothly as possible.

Let's break it down and assume your goal needs a specific sum of money to make it happen. Let's say you need to secure a $1,000 buffer for a year overseas six months down the road. In this example, your action step might be to put away $150 per month and then save toonies in a jar for six months to secure that extra $100. To summarize, planning and preparation serves two purposes -- it ensures you're prepared but it's also a marker point to check against to make sure you're on track.

2. Think of what could go wrong

Okay, I think by now you all know how I feel about Debbie Downer-ism, and I assure you this isn't about being negative and saying "It won't work because..." Nope. It's about applying critical thinking and foreseeing the bumps in the road and deciding ahead of time how you will handle them. It's another way of ensuring you're fully prepared and entering into the change with your eyes wide open and solutions in your back pocket. For example, if you predict resistance to the change you're making, you might decide to have a pre-prepared answer when somebody questions why you're doing it. That way, you redirect any negative questions while simultaneously turning it into an opportunity to practice your elevator pitch.

3. Find a team or a support group

There's a reason why it's recommended we workout with a friend when we're trying to get healthy. They also say you should reach out and call a friend if you're going through a tough time. And there's certainly a rationale for the umpteen online support groups, blogs and social media niches on all topics imaginable. It's because you need your people. This is even more important when you're making a huge life change. Times will get tough. Situations will challenge you. There will be moments when you totally meltdown and wonder what the eff you got yourself into. That's when you call on your team of like-minded people. As a recovering introvert who used to have a stubborn "I can do it and I can do it all by myself" attitude, this one has been a game changer for me. Turn to others to lift you up.

What tips do you have for managing milestones in your life?

Feel welcome to share in the comments below!

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