You Can Make a Big Life Change: Here's How

by Thursday Bram on 28 February 2013 2 comments

The life you have today is not the life that you have to have tomorrow. That may sound like an oversimplification, but the truth is that we each make a choice everyday to continue to live the lives we already have; just getting out of bed each morning is a choice we make. We could always just decide to stay in bed all day.

There are plenty of reasons we don’t just stay in bed: financial obligations, personal obligations, social obligations. There are consequences that go along with the decision to change, but if you’re aware of the factors in play when you make a major change in your life, you’ll be able to deal with them. (See also: Feeling Stuck? 100 Ways to Change Your Life)

What Do You Want to Do?

There are plenty of cases of people finding themselves without a direction in life, but that’s very different than choosing to make a specific change. Your odds of actually being able to carry out a major change in your life and make it permanent are a lot better if you go in with a specific goal and plan. Consider:

  • What do you want to change?
  • Where do you want to wind up?

Be as precise as possible.

Write out a description of what you want your life to look like, perhaps going so far as to describe what you expect a typical day will be like after you make this change. If you aren’t entirely sure what your end goal is yet, you may need to do some research. You may also consider making temporary changes in your life, such as planning a sabbatical to allow yourself to experiment with alternatives.

What’s Your Current Situation?

Clearly, the change you want to make means modifying large parts of how you currently live. However, you may need to identify just what parts of your life are in play before you move forward.

Finances First

Start with the financial aspects of your life, because those are likely to be the easiest to calculate. Go through your finances and figure out what your assets and liabilities are, both overall and on a monthly basis. A lot of your monthly bills may change depending on just how you want to change your life, but you want to make sure that financial consequences won't derail you as you’re making that change.

What About Friends and Family?

Take a look at the other parts of your life. You likely have emotional obligations to friends and family that may very well be impacted by the change you want to make. These considerations are harder to calculate, but it’s even more important to make sure that you’re avoiding problems with your family as you make your change.

Write out your obligations, both formal and informal, and what you plan to do about them as you’re making a change.

What Do You Need to Transition?

At this point, you’ve got documents both showing where you are and where you want to end up. To get from one to the other, though, you need a plan. You may think you’ve got a pretty good plan in mind, but it’s worthwhile to actually write out what you’re thinking, so that you can show that you’re taking care of all your obligations on one side of the equation, as well as ensuring that you’re reaching all of your goals on the other side.

A Recipe for Change

Write out your plans like you might write out a recipe. What do you need to make the change you’re thinking about, and what are you planning to do with those resources?

You may need to go even further in depth to look at how you’re going to get your hands on the ingredients you need. But address everything you can think of. You may not be able to predict all of the pitfalls that go along with the transition you’re planning, but you can probably account for a lot of the big ones.

Your recipe will tell you how long you’ll need to take to make the transition you’re thinking about. You may not be able to make it as quickly as you’d like. You may need to build up your savings or put together other resources. But with some planning, you can ensure that making that crazy life change will go smoothly, allowing you to enjoy the end results.

Have you made a significant life change? What worked for you? What didn't?

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Guest's picture

Years ago I made the decision to exit the normal work force and work on my own. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done and it required a great deal of planning, but it was completely worth it.

Any time you want to make big changes in your life it always comes with some risk and that's something you need to be able to accept. The beauty of risk though is that it often comes tied in with potential reward. Is it worth risking something small in the short term that will lead to massive long terms gain and happiness in your life or career? In my opinion this is definitely a question worth asking and if you like the answer, take action!

Guest's picture

Great article! I'd definitely like to see a follow up!