Leveling up. Upleveling. Rising up. Onward.
I just threw a lot of jargon at you.
As a change management consultant, I used to focus solely on big company changes. I’d take a close look at what a change in software meant to all the employees.
Will this affect how they do their job?
Will this make their life easier or harder?
How will people react? Will they hate their life?
Is this even possible?
Quick definition: Change management is like taking a stick and making sure a change happens. Stick beatings come in the form of communication, positioning, and high-fives.
Disclaimer: I don’t use actual sticks on clients.
My job was to figure out how to make change suck less for a specific group of people. They needed to learn a new skill pretty quickly, throw out their old ways, and start being productive—like yesterday.
Most change is good. I mean, why would we even bother trying to make a change in our personal or professional life if the change was going to make our lives worse?
You know you’re stuck, and you need a change, but aren’t sure what to do next. What do you do?
Your brain might be telling you that you suck at this point.
When I was ready to quit my job and dive into freelance writing full time, I wrestled with limiting thoughts all the time.
Staying at my job is easier
I know what I need to do every day
I know how much money I’m going to make every two weeks
No change required.
But then, I’d wonder if I was just too accepting. I wasn’t challenging myself. I knew I could do more. Do something different. Something that had more meaning. But doing nothing was easier. Back to Starbucks for my second almond milk latte of the day.
Sometimes you need to take the emotion out of it and just leap.
I was worried about it being too hard, and I’d fail.
I would just tell my brain to shut up. My gut would continue nagging me, and I couldn’t put it off any longer.
What if I could also play the part of the change management expert in my life change?
Let’s look at the example of me quitting my job to write full time:
Who would the change affect? Hubby, kids, and me.
Would they be negatively affected? We’d lose almost half of our total household income. Ouch.
What are the positives? I’m less of a stress bag and can do more work I enjoy. The kids could sleep for an extra hour and be able to relax at home at the end of their school day instead of trotting to after-school care.
What does the change mean for me? I’d have to get out there and find my own clients. If I don’t make enough money, I’ll have to eat cat food and never have a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte ever again. Oh, and we’d also probably file bankruptcy.
Here’s what I did to make the change happen and lessen the pain for the “stakeholders”—my family in this case:
I grew my business on the side for more than a year, so I could set up systems to make my business run well when I started doing it full time
I started new habits like blogging every single week and sending a helpful email to my email subscribers every Tuesday (sometimes on Wednesday)
I did as much work on the side as I could and socked my extra income in savings. I’d use this to invest back in my business. Like a new website, a new logo, business cards, and subscriptions (this one is my fave)
I self-published a book
I started telling everyone I knew, planting seeds for future freelance writing and editing work, and also to keep me honest. I was getting really sick of talking about doing it. The more I talked about it, the more seriously I took the change and had to make it happen. I didn’t want to be a schlep that was all talk and no action.
I prepared the kids by working from home more. They’d get used to the new behavior of seeing me at home, but not being fully “available” all the time to cut up another apple, or make another cheese-free grilled cheese sandwich.
I put a date on our family calendar so we could mentally prepare.
Do you know what life would have been like if I didn’t do any of this upfront, make my life suck less work? I would have sat down at my desk on day one and been totally overwhelmed—what do I do first?
Sometimes a big decision isn’t really that big. Sometimes if you do leap, a net will appear. Sometimes if you pour a glass of wine, some salty caramel chocolate appears. It’s magical.
And sometimes, when you have a nagging feeling and get sick to death of talking about doing the thing, taking the leap, making the change, you just gotta grab some lady balls (preferably your own) and do it.
You’re a doer. Be a doer. Lady balls optional.