How to Deal With Change

Change is an unavoidable part of life, and how people deal with change differs from person to person. Some welcome and embrace change, while others despise it. It can happen in many forms, and can be positive and exciting or flat out scary and negative.

Do you notice how most life changes have some financial connection to them? Changes in finances in any way can really bring on many negative emotions for people, which is why some may resist purchasing a home, going to college, switching jobs, leaving a bad relationship, going on vacation, following a career in art or music, moving, or having a baby, regardless of how much they want to accomplish their goals. Any financial obligation can be a stressor in and of itself, but when you add a big life change to the mix, it can be even harder to manage. Money plays a huge role in the way we live our lives, it’s hard to not imagine the what-ifs when plunging into any change.

How do you react to change? You may dislike change because you have great fear of the unknown or of failure, prefer everything to always be the same, or do not feel comfortable feeling out of control. You may love change because it means new opportunities and a chance to grow and learn. Or, you may have no idea you even have any feelings toward change until its sitting in your lap. If you recognize you’re not good with handling any alteration to your cozy life, you’ve already taken the first step to improving your ability to adjust to change.

I fall into the third category. I am typically open to changes in my life, whether it be with routines, or new people, or new surroundings. However, there are so many changes currently happening for me, I am beginning to realize I actually don’t cope well with change once it’s happened. I like the idea of change, but once it’s applied to my life, I find it hard to handle.

Let me back up.

In the matter of just a few months, I’ve gotten engaged, bought a townhouse with my fiancé, moved out of my parents’ house, and moved to a new state. All this while my parents are selling their home and building a new one, where they will move on with their lives without me residing in one of the bedrooms. I will be turning 26 sooner than I’d like, which means I will be thrown into a world where I have to pay for my own health insurance, and in six short months, I will be a married woman.

You can imagine all these changes happening at the same time are bringing up many overwhelming feelings, even if they are all positive changes that I dreamed about for a long time. While I am adjusting to new expenses, sharing financial obligations with another person, driving a longer commute and navigating my way around the grocery store and the kitchen, I am also adjusting to being away from my family, figuring out the in-law dynamics, planning a wedding, and accepting the fact that it’s no longer just me in my own little selfish bubble. As an already anxious person, my world sometimes feels like its spinning faster than I can keep up with, and now it feels like it’s traveling at lightning speed. I haven’t had time to breathe in between each change, not only because I never gave myself the chance, but even if I did, I think I’d be out of breath. My anxious feelings don’t come from being an “entitled”, “overly sensitive”, “can-never-be-happy”, “always-wanting-more” millennial. In fact, many people in our world fear change. There’s even a technical term for it called Metathesiophobia. And for people who really have a hard time adapting to change, it’s possible they suffer from Adjustment Disorder.

While I don’t know the secret to conquering fear of change or successfully dealing with change once it’s happened, I can offer some advice that I wish someone gave me when I decided to tackle six life-changing events all at the same time.

Don’t rush.

People say don’t rush, but they never actually tell you why. If you’re a doer like me, rushing is second nature and patience isn’t in your vocabulary. It didn’t feel right to have a ring on my finger and not be planning a wedding, and once that shiny thing settled around its new home, it felt like it was time to jump back into the search for our own home. Common sense will tell you not to rush, but when you’re full of excitement and you’re just looking forward to taking some big kid steps in your life, rushing feels like the only way to get things done. It’s important to remember that even though you just want to check these kinds of milestones off your bucket list, you also want to be able to enjoy them. And I mean fully enjoy them. If you rush into wedding planning, or home buying, purchasing a new truck or splurging on a big vacation, you could end up with those things, but also anxiety and emotions you didn’t prepare for, nor did you want. I know what you’re thinking, “Well, if that happens, I will deal with it when I get there”. It’s not as easy as you would think. Before moving forward, put some thought into what change means for you, the life you’re accustomed to and what it means for your future. Let it sink in before you engulf yourself in excitement and the YOLO mentality. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t go after the things you want in life or live your life in fear, but make sure you’re actually ready for what you’re getting yourself into. And how do you get ready?

Prepare for the changes to come.

If you already know you’re not good with change, and you know change is coming, do your best to prepare. Really get yourself ready mentally, emotionally and financially. Take some time to picture yourself in the new situation ahead. Think about everything that will be different.

Those who struggle with change typically feel out of control when change does happen. Preparing yourself is a small way to gain a little bit of control over your new life circumstances. If you’re changing jobs, imagine what your day-to-day routine will be like as much as you can and reorganize your budget to reflect any moving expenses or a new salary. If you’re expecting a new baby, make a list of all the things you know for sure will be different, including the many items you’ll have to pay for and the selfish tendencies you’ll have to sacrifice. Really put some effort into understanding all that will be different, so you’ll be ready to face it all when change interrupts the world you’ve known.

If you have control over the changes going on in your life, space them out as much as possible. This goes hand-in-hand with not rushing. A plan can really come in handy at this point. If you know a lot of changes are coming your way, plan to tackle them one at a time so you’re not overwhelmed with doing everything all at once. Figure out your priorities and decide exactly what you need to do to make each step a successful and seamless transition.

Of course, it’s not possible to predict the future, so some changes aren’t easy to plan for, and some can come at you unexpectedly, without a hint or a warning. If that’s the case…

Try and embrace the change as much as possible.

It can be hard to do this in any situation because your brain tends to focus on the negative aspects of whatever life position you are in on any given day. If you lose your job, you automatically go into panic mode and think about being a failure or losing money. Yes, you could have failed at something (or not), you may lose money, and you may be in a state of shock or panic, but now you have a new opportunity to seek other endeavors, and with a little reorganization and help from others, you can figure out exactly what your next move will be that might lead you to an even better job. If you’re recently married and you’re struggling with the immense change of being forever linked to another person, or even if you’re in a new relationship and you’re finding it hard to say goodbye to your single life, think about the amazing positives of being in this phase of life. They’re probably all the things you wished for when you didn’t have this person by your side.

If you train yourself to focus on the positive side of the change happening in your life, it’ll be easier to accept it, be in the moment and be at peace with it. Easier said than done, I know. But, I think we can agree that this adjustment in your thoughts can help.

I’ve found that dealing with change takes more mental work than it does physical or tangible work that can be seen or proven. If you’re in a position where you are recognizing the changes happening in your life are a little too much to deal with, believe it or not, you’re actually in a good spot. Self-awareness is key to self-improvement. You’ve just got to learn to not only cope with the changes, but also figure out what it is about the change that’s bugging you most. It might take some deep digging and putting some effort into self-reflection, but it will help you feel more comfortable and ready to take on other changes that are waiting for you.

Do you have positive or negative experiences with change? What are your tips for dealing with it? Let us know in the comments below!

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