How to Get Through a Big Change Without Having a Cow

I haven’t blogged for quite a while. That’s not because I ran out of things to say (My husband will confirm that I never run out of things to say) or because I just got lazy and spent the last month eating chocolate and watching reruns of The Golden Girls.

I haven’t blogged because our site was being redesigned. Once the blog content had been moved, I had to wait for the new site to go live before adding any new posts. A few technical hitches slowed us down, but we’re finally done and so here I am.

I love the new design – it feels like we just bought a really great new outfit – but getting here was a big leap for our business. We had to commit to making a lot of big changes and to investing both time and money in transforming ourselves. We also had to let go of the reigns a little bit and trust a new team of people to guide us on our new path (for perfectionist control freaks like me, this is not an easy thing to do!)

The process, like most big changes, was exciting, scary, frustrating, inspiring, scary, interesting, creative — did I say scary? — and most of all it was fun. Over the last few days as we prepared to go live, I thought about the things I had learned, both during this change and during other big leaps I have made in my life.

So here are the 5 things I know about how to make big changes without having a cow:

1. Change always takes longer than you expect

When I first emigrated from the UK to Canada, acclimatizing took much longer than I expected. The move from Canada to the US was even harder – trust me, worlds apart!

When we started Blue Sky Resumes 6 years ago, the website development and business planning took months longer than I thought. And the same happened with this redesign.

Imagining the change is easy, but you never imagine the rocky bits. You never picture that moment when someone says ‘uh-ho … we seem to have hit a snag.’ So your imagined time line is always shorter than the one that is really needed.

My husband has managed large-scale construction projects, so he is better at this than I am. He doesn’t know exactly what will go wrong with his plans, but he always knows something will! This means he doesn’t freak out as much as me when the inevitable happens.

2. Because it takes so long, keep your eye on the goal

When you start running into speed bumps, it’s easy to doubt what you’re doing and look for ways out. When we moved to Canada, and then to the US, my husband and I agreed to give the new place 2 years. It’s a good thing we did because, trust me, your first Toronto winter is enough to send you scurrying back to wherever you came from. As is the first apartment-hunting expedition in Manhattan (“you want how many bedrooms on your budget? Oh, how darling!”).

At that precise moment when fear takes hold and you are seized with a sudden urge to run for safety, that’s when you need to remind yourself of the goal. Why are you making this change in the first place? If that reason hasn’t disappeared, running for ’safety’ won’t solve any of your problems.

Just do what Manhattan drivers do – close your eyes, hit the accelerator, and pull out. Nine times out of ten, it’ll work out OK.

3. At some point, someone will get snippy

As you run into difficulties, tensions mount and relationships can get frayed. When that happens, it’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture. Your spouse is yelling at you because things are scary? Remember how much you love him or her and try to look past the anger. People on the project are beginning to get short with one another? Step back and look at how far you’ve come together.

It’s so easy to let temporary irritation turn into a full-fledged relationship problem, but it’s also possible to stop the escalation before that happens. Have an honest conversation where everyone can air their feelings. If that doesn’t work, punch a pillow.

4. Perfect is good enough

Our web designer and I decided that our dads must have been related. Mine was a perfectionist. Whenever I would try to rush something, he would say ‘Don’t be shoddy. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’ Matthew’s dad used to tell him ‘perfect is good enough.’

Our dads were right. If you’re going to make a huge change, you have to throw yourself into it wholeheartedly. It’s going to be painful, exhilarating, challenging and, did I mention, scary? So you might as well do the very best that you can.

5. If changing was easy, more people would do it

I love change. its a bit of a sickness actually. I have old school friends who never moved from the English village we were born in. I moved as soon as I could, and then again to leave England and then yet again to leave Canada. These days I find myself looking wistfully at real estate listings for old English farmhouses and wondering about moving again.

But most people resist change. That opens up a huge opportunity for those of us with the change bug – or even those who don’t like change but are willing to push through it anyway. Whether you’re a job seeker, a small business owner, or an employee looking to change things at your company, being willing to try something different gives you an advantage over other people.

Remember that when you’re punching that pillow!

I’m interested – what’s the scariest change you ever made? And what did you learn?

Photo courtesy of Bark

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