As many of you know, life has been anything but normal or predictable for me and my wife, Ginger, over the last several months. At the end of 2017, I knew that massive changes were going to impact my department at work. I would have to face an important career decision: I had to choose whether or not to leave Salt Lake City and move to Chicago with the company. We didn’t know exactly when this would happen, but the plans were for the new Commercial team to be in place and the office fully functional by the end of July 2018. How would I respond? Adapting to change in one fashion or another would be required.
Like most changes, this wasn’t the only change happening in our lives. Often, you don’t get to have 95% of your life remain static while change impacts the other 5%. It’s more like 95% of your life is changing while 5% stays static. That’s not only challenging to deal with, it can be extremely disruptive impacting your physical, mental and emotional health.
So during this time, we had to put down a family pet, a 14 yr old cat named Mo) and no matter how much you like pets (even if you don’t like them at all!), it’s an emotional dynamic that isn’t an everyday occurrence which is sad and stressful. Even if you aren’t sad, there is the strong potential that your spouse, children or others are torn up.
We also had moments to celebrate. Ginger’s Dad had a surprise birthday party in Colorado which was a blast. If you have ever planned a surprise anything, you know how stupid difficult it can be to coordinate – especially from another state. Thank God for Ginger’s brother and sister-in-law. Between the three of them, they pulled it off and it was awesome!
Our youngest son, Isaiah, got married to his wonderful fiance, Marissa, on July 14th in Pacifica, CA. Forget the surprise – everyone knows and it just got more stupid difficult. You thought planning a surprise out of state was hard, my complete empathy for any couple planning their marriage out of state. Wow!
In the midst of all THIS, we bought a home in AZ (more on that in a second), became landlords (renting our current home in SLC), and moved ourselves before and after Isaiah’s wedding.
So my point is that when things change, sometimes the change is dramatic and the impacts far-reaching. A lot of planning might be required and you are worried that you will forget something and have a serious problem. Don’t worry, you will forget something. The key is forgetting something that isn’t going to cause a major impact.
You could be taking steps right now that you truly don’t have any idea how all of this is going to turn out. I get it. You have limited information and you have to make the best decision you can without all of the detail you would like to have.
It can cause you to feel stress, fear, anger, elation, relief, profound sadness, grief, excitement, anticipation, etc…Sometimes, you get to feel all of those emotions at once and maybe wonder if you are losing it! You aren’t alone! When you are adapting to change, I found a few things that will help you navigate the disruption. In no particular order, here they are:
Get Everything Off Your Plate That Doesn’t Require YOU!
Everything is going to feel like a big rush and you will find yourself saying “I don’t have time to…” And guess what? That’s 100% true. There are going to be things that you don’t have time to do PERSONALLY. Some of those things don’t need to be done at all but others really do need to be done, so what do you do? Get help. Some of it might be from co-workers, friends or family (asking someone to pick up your dry cleaning, taking a child to dance class, calling a customer to answer a simple question).
But wait, there’s more! Maybe you have a yard that takes an hour or two to maintain each weekend. You pride yourself on keeping it tip-top and looking fantastic. Give it up. Hire it done. Yes, it will cost you something, but remember, you are working to create space for new and more important tasks. If laundry and ironing take you two hours every week, then you might have to pay someone to do it for you for a month so you get that time back during this critical planning period.
Maybe your challenge is bookkeeping. You have to make sure the books get done, but do you have to be the one to do it? Maybe you need a service like bench.co to handle your bookkeeping. Or maybe you book your own business travel and it takes WAY too much time to plan your itinerary, find flights, reserve hotels, coordinate transportation, etc…so engage a virtual assistant.
You’re going to have to get creative and FIND people who can make this transition stage of life much easier than it has been. And for goodness sake, when people offer help, accept it. Why? It’s our second tip:
Create Margins And Time To Think
You are going to have to have some time set aside that allows you to process the change that’s coming. Think of it like a two-week vacation. You need space to plan, to be purposeful about where you are going to be, when you are going to be there, what and who you want to have there with you. Give yourself space to consider the implications of the decisions you are facing.
If you are like me, you plan to accomplish too much on any given day. I did some concrete work with some friends recently and I was telling them how frequently I have overestimated what I can accomplish and underestimated how long it would take me to complete it. Knowing this, I MUST be more conservative and expect that it will take longer than I think and I won’t get everything done that I planned. I pay a price for not leaving enough margin. Remember, margins preserve sanity!
Start From The End And Plan Backward
For instance, if you are going to rent your current home and move to a new home, you will have to start by knowing when you can get into your new home. Once you know that, you can determine when you want to physically move your things into the new home. If you know when you are moving in, you can determine when to schedule cleaning the home you are moving out of and the availability date for renters to occupy your old home. Once you know that availability date, you can determine when you need to start advertising the home as available and taking rental applications.
Things are happening in parallel, right?! It’s not like only one thing is happening at a time. You might be advertising the availability of your old home and taking rental applications at the same time you are scheduling any maintenance/repairs/updates that have to be completed to your new home so they are completed and don’t prevent you from moving in on your planned date.
The point is that if you don’t make a list and start backing into the activities required to get the major things done in time, you will create a situation where it’s impossible to transition successfully.
Tackle and adapt to change by getting things off your plate, giving yourself margin with space to plan and think, and work backward from the outcome so you don’t miss the things that can derail your plans.
Here is the big takeaway: the principles that work for big projects work for little ones too. For example, you can’t manage a list of 25 to-do items. I’m not saying your list isn’t 25 items long, I’m saying your brain can’t manage all that. So what do you do?
Pick the top three to five (depending on whether you listen to Michael Hyatt or Warren Buffet. Regardless, it’s less than 25 no matter how you slice it. Once you get the three to five most important ones knocked off, then rebuild the list. Do not stray from the top five – you don’t have the luxury to donate any brain power to the others.
Change is exciting – manage it with intention and you will always be positioned to benefit no matter how challenging.
Great Quotes From This Episode:
“Margins preserve sanity.” – Mark Slemons
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