Big life changes are scary. They can be awesome too. Sometimes they come in so quietly, we don’t know they have arrived until they are ripping the very fabric of that cozy little blanket we had ourselves wrapped in called The Norm. Sometimes we can choose to make the change; sometimes the change comes without an invitation or even a “Well, since you’re already here, come in and sit down.” So dealing with change you weren’t prepared for is a lot different than dealing for change you asked for. Nonetheless, it’s not easy and it doesn’t come without a price. Before I start handing out maxims, I want to take you back two years and 9 months. I decided to quit my job and move to Israel to volunteer as a teacher for five months.
The impetus behind the move was simple: my boss was Satan and she had a minion who made my life hell. Ipso facto: I quit and moved away. Some people might say I was running away from my problems, but I felt like I was running towards my future (love when life proves me right). But, quitting a job and moving to a foreign country isn’t something most people can do in a day, a week or even a month. To begin with, I had furniture to contend with, a lot in fact, and it’s nice. In the pre-25-year-old days, I could have just given away my passed-through-the-group-of-friends flower couches, hand-me-down silver t.v. stand, mattress and box spring (no frame), and packed all my clothes to be stored in my parent’s garage. But, I was 27. I had a bedroom set, a fully-reclining leather sofa with a matching leather recliner, t.v. stand and bookcases from Crate and Barrel, as well as matching end tables and lamps. I had a bar-height table with four chairs and the only appliance missing from my kitchen was a food-processor. I only have a mini-food processor. So I had to figure out what to do with my stuff. I also had to make car payments. If I wasn’t working for five months, how was I going to pay my bills, and have enough money to spend on a flight to Israel (and back for my friend’s wedding which I was not going to miss) and expenses while in Israel? I sat down and took a long hard look at my finances. The numbers didn’t add up, but that wasn’t going to stop me.
I started by making a list of my expenses and a list of my income, including projected income and savings for the rest of the year until my contract ended. I would need a loan. This wasn’t the only issue I had to solve. I had to find a storage center for my furniture and belongings, one that was safe, reliable and affordable. I had to pack. But, I was getting ahead of myself. It was March and I hadn’t even quit yet! First, I had to find the right time to tell my boss. I really wanted to drop it like a big “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” right on her face! Quitting is so awesome because when you hate your job it’s a way to say, “I hate my job so much, there’s literally nothing I want to do less than stay here.” As much as I wanted her to cry and try to stop me, she actually seemed happy and relieved which dampened my quitting story and still irritates me to this day. I chock it up to her deficiency of not being able to value employees. So, if I hadn’t even quit yet, or put a deposit down on this program I wanted to participate in, how was I going to know what to do and when to do it? I’d never moved to another country before (even temporarily) and I’d never even planned an international trip by myself! I wavered in my decision. I did not make it lightly. I discussed it with valued friends and family members. I went back and forth. Then one day, the minion came into the office and told me that I wouldn’t be allowed to go to the first day of the Activities Director Conference, the day for all new Directors (I was a new director) because Satan didn’t think I needed to. This was the last straw, as if I needed another one, and I decided that I would get the hell out of there (pun…intended?). I couldn’t work in a place where decisions made were counter-intuitive.
I had to break free.
So, now I knew where I was going (always step one), but I had no idea how to get there. I started by making lists. I made a list of things I needed to do. Then I took each item and broke it down into how I was going to do it. My list was extremely long. I knew it was the only way to make my dream work. I knew it would be hard, it would take a lot of time and I would be frustrated a lot. But, it couldn’t be any worse than what I was dealing with at my job (trust me; it was awful. I haven’t even told you the tip of the ice berg). So when faced with two challenging situations, it is usually easier to face the challenge that has an end result you want. In this case: it was living in another country for half a year.
And lists! Boy, did I have lists! Lists were a starting point! On top of the lists, I made a timeline. When did each item need to be completed by to leave at the end of August? I identified my problem areas (what would take longer to complete, what would be more difficult to achieve). Then I made a priority list. I used the information I had already compiled and gave myself a weekly to-do list. By Jove, I moved at the end of August. My furniture was moved into a lovely warehouse being stored at a reasonable rate for the next five months (which turned into 3 years and they were happy to keep my things). My car was taken care of. My insurance was adjusted. My cats had new temporary homes (which turned out to be permanent…ultimate sad face). My apartment was cleaned and emptied. I had my goodbye parties. I moved back to my hometown for a week to say goodbye to my family and friends there, to prepare and pack. I had never been away from home for longer than 2 weeks. This was a big deal and I had made it happen.
At the time, I didn’t know what I was doing. But, I was preparing myself for the period in my life I like to call “now”. I’m in a transition period preparing a life in the United States for my husband and I. So once again, I’m moving countries. This time, I have a whole new set of chores. I’m not coming alone. I’m bringing a husband, two cats, a dog, some furniture and we have no jobs, no home and no back yard for my little Bamba girl to run around in. It’s up to me to get my husband a green card. We have to find employment, housing, a synagogue, kosher markets, friends. Even typing it out feels overwhelming. But, the 2009 self is saying to me: Hey! You’ve done this before; you can do it again. Big change, like all good things, don’t come to those who wait. You can’t start the game without a line-up.The moral?
Don’t be unprepared!
Check out the Manual for Making a Big Change that I’ve created. I’ve already started implementing my next Big Change and I’m so excited about it. I know how hard it’s going to be to get everything done, but I’ve already done it before so I know I can do it. Even if you’ve never made The Big Change, you can do it. It is possible. Even if you don’t have enough money, that doesn’t have to stop you. There are so many other options out there: 1. Get a second job. 2. Cut your expenses. 3. Sell some of your stuff. 4. Ask to borrow money. You’ll get down on the way. That’s expected. But once you set the ball in motion, you’ll roll right into your Big Change and once you’re there, you can kick up your feet on your fully reclining sofa, have a tea in your teal coffee mug from Target, snuggle in your pajamas you haven’t seen in three years and watch Star Trek 3 on your TV. I mean, that’s what I plan on doing, but maybe your Big Change will look different. Whatever it is, Do It!
There are two ways of looking at this: 1. You’ve passed some difficult times before and you know you can meet the challenge even if you’re worried or afraid you won’t succeed. Draw on the strengthyou built from your past experiences and make it happen! 2. Your life has been relatively carefree up until this point and you’re looking for something new and exciting. DUDE! Best thing ever!(I hope you said that in the super California accent I wrote it in) Get on that train! What do you have to lose? Pride because you might fail? So what! You tried! That counts for so much more these days than doing what everyone else on the block is doing just because it’s easy and expected. Now, you really don’t have an excuse not to go for that Big Change. I need to go make a few lists now; I’m going to learn from my 2009 self. Let’s see, I need to make an appointment with the consulate, buy airline tickets, find travel carriages for my pets…..
Once you’ve made the big life change, you might be sitting in your new, but empty place thinking: What have I done? No worries…check this out: Podcast on How To Deal With a Big Life Change