10 Strategies for a Big Life Change

photo by Yves Lorson

A new city.

A new baby.

A new job.

Getting married.

Going to school.

(Or maybe you’re like Andrea, planning a few at the same time.)

What can you do to prepare for a major life change?

1. Write down your plan on paper.  Always keep a notebook with you for the to-do lists, phone numbers, and little things that you don’t want to forget.  Save your ideas on paper, so you don’t have to try to remember everything.

2.  Break big jobs into smaller tasks.  Big jobs are daunting, but smaller tasks seem easier.  

3.  Watch for signs of stress so that you can take a break when you need to.  When I feel stressed, I start drinking more soda and not getting enough sleep.  I have to remind myself to stop and go out for fresh air, take a needed nap, or drink more water.

4.  Decide what not to do.  Is there something that you will give up so that you can have more time?  It might a good time to unplug the tv.

5.  Just start.  Set the timer for 10 or 15 minutes, and do one thing on your list.  Getting started gives you the momentum to do more.

6.  Be willing to not do everything the “right” way.  You know how when you move, the first boxes you pack are always carefully and properly done, but by the end you just start throwing things on the truck?  That’s ok.  Sometimes the end result is more important than how you got there.

7.  Set mini-goals.  If you have 4 weeks to prepare, what do you want to accomplish each week?

8.  Define priorities.  Do you need to spend more money to save time?  Or is it more important to keep the budget low?  Decide how best to use your resources so you can make the right decisions.

9.  Ask for help.  Most people are willing to help, but they might not know how. Think of ways for other people to help you, and don’t be afraid to ask.

10. Take a moment.  Most big changes, no matter how hoped for, are still bittersweet.  Memorize a moment or take a photo, to commemorate what you’re leaving behind.

I know many of you are preparing for a big life change right now.  How is it going? 

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Hi Rachel – I just love the blog!!

    I’m going through a few big changes right now – I just relocated to a new and bigger city, I’m currently looking for a job, and also applying to grad school!

    The key to preparing me for (and also surviving) the transition is LOTS of to-do lists. I use gubb.net to keep to-do lists for all of these separate changes.

    Also, I’ll second the notebook idea – it’s a great way to track your progress as you move through the changes and helps keep you sane and all in one piece!

    The one area I do need help on is #9. I’m such a stubborn, independent gal and sometimes I need to admit defeat and ask for help.

    Thanks for the great tips!!

  2. you’re welcome, Marta, and good luck for all of those things.

    Asking for help isn’t defeat! It’s strategic. All of the world’s biggest leaders have countless aides helping them.

  3. well said.
    Thanks for these helpful tips.
    I loved this blog as all of the other blogs written by you.


  4. Well, I just graduated from college in May, so that was a big life change. A couple weeks ago I moved back home to live with my family while I look for a job. My previous job ended last week, so right now I’m kind of just hanging out at home.

    I’ve got a pretty big life to-do list (http://chelseys101.wordpress.com), so I’m going to use this free time to work on those things.

    I’m making sure to get a good amount of exercise each week.

    I’m drinking a lot of water and watching my fast food intake, because this is a difficult time, and at any moment I can start to feel depressed. And feeling bloated from soda does NOT help that.

    I’m also making sure to find time for friends, and most especially, time for the Lord. I’m working on memorizing Psalm 34, one of my favorite psalms, because it never fails to lift me up when I’m feeling down.

    I really, really like the simplicity of your blog. Have a great day. :)

    –Chelsey @ Grace, Grammar and Good Eats (http://chelsey.wordpress.com)

  5. I like #6. But when I read the first sentence my thoughts went in another direction. Like not worrying about doing everything “right” right-away. As in give yourself a margin of error when you’re in the midst of change. I’ve started a bizillion new jobs in my life and I’m always clueless and stumbling for the first three months. The same is true for any new task or change I undertake — even in the home. A three month “grace period” works for me.

  6. Thanks Pooja, and thanks Chelsey. I’m looking forward to seeing more of your life goals on your blog.

    That’s a good point Jill. I find I need about 6 months to start feeling confident in something new.

  7. Thanks to my job, my family typically relocates to a different country every few years. It’s a great deal of fun to really experience different ways of life, but it can be very stressful. These are great tips and we already use a lot of these (and probably should use the rest, too). The other big thing for me is to make sure that I am getting regular exercise. If I am not swimming, running or biking a few times a week I find that I am not only more lethargic and less productive, but I am also much more vulnerable to stress. It might not work for everyone, but it is huge for me.



  8. Thanks for the fabulous reminder! My family and I are moving at the beginning of September and I have felt super stressed and overwhelmed the last few weeks. Your thoughts have helped my put a few things in perspective.

    I think for me the big one is #6…I want to be super organized, but that sometimes takes time I don’t have, or time I would rather be spending saying goodbye to friends and family.

  9. All good strategies Rachel –
    I often feel like my whole life revolves around our big move, and to a certain extent it does, however I’ve learnt to take a break now and then. There are good bits though, like researching where you want to live, which involves holidays…see you in a week lol

  10. What great ideas. We’ve been facing down the possibility of a move in the next year, plus a (surprise!) baby nine months ago. Both have been unnerving, but having a plan in place to deal with these sorts of changes would be so helpful! Thanks for the insight :)

  11. This post was just what I needed!

    I recently moved to a big city from a small town and got a new job working with inner city kids just last week. I thought I could handle it all but I’ve noticed that I’ve been very impatient and snappy. Your post gave me the reassurance that change is stressful and the inspiration to take some time to think and set goals.

    Thank you!

  12. Hi Rachel…
    Thanks for the post! As I mentioned in my blog, we are in the process of getting ready for a real estate auction. Thankfully, we have found another house that we LOVE! :) I will use the ideas you have listed. I can sympathize with #3! I’m the exact same way, and I’m trying to be better. I’ll keep you informed of the progress in our journey!! :)


  13. acompletethought says:

    I have actually been working through this list and trying to do these things just this week. These are all confirmed really work strategies for me, and your blog post on them is so very timely. My big life change is a seasonal one of gearing back up to my Bible teaching schedule.

    Another one that I used today when I felt my stress level rising was to take a deep breath and ask the question, “Lord, what do you want me to notice of You in this very moment?” The answer came almost immediately in an unexpected but much welcomed cool breeze–in a most typically sweltering day. I thanked Him for the weather and went on with the have tos.

  14. Good stuff! I am definitely going to be looking back at this… when I have time ;)

  15. Wow, so many of you are moving! I know that’s not easy. Marci, I’m so glad to hear that happy news for you.

  16. hi
    i am from iran. i really love your note
    i am sure that ia work for every one.

  17. Great article. It’s short and to the point with a lot of valuable information on how to make big or small changes. These 10 steps could be used for anything you want to change in your life, from losing weight to getting a new job to building your self esteem. Thanks for simplifying the sometimes daunting process of change.