Dealing with Drastic Life Change
My life has changed quite drastically in the past twelve months. My experiences don't make me an expert, but I hope sharing what I've learned will help you deal with big changes in your own life.
The Last 12 Months
Twelve months ago, I was engaged to a woman living across the country from me, working for HP as a Project Manager/Business Analyst and living alone in Houston, Texas.
By mid-January I had been married in Guam, honeymooned in Thailand and moved my new wife across the country to Houston.
In February I was laid off at HP, and in March I moved to Greenville, SC and started a new job at Varigence as an Engineering Product Manager.
The next five months were spent settling into work, life, home and marriage in Greenville.
In September, I co-founded Nicer Studio with four good friends, watched our ApplePlugs.com parody go wild and released two iMessage Sticker packs—Greenville: Illustrated Stickers and Small Talk: Hand-lettered Stickers.
At the end of September, I was laid off along with almost everyone I worked with and began the job hunt, again.
In November, my wife and I drove from Greenville to San Francisco (photos above). We learned as much as we could about the city in a week and moved into an apartment in Russian Hill last week.
Also last week, I started as a Software Project Manger at Ygrene Energy Fund, and I'm so excited to be working there.
1. Give Yourself Time to Process
After each of the dramatic changes of the past year, I saw more and more the importance of giving myself (and my wife) time to process those changes.
In practice, that meant being gracious to myself (and to Alyssa) and giving extra leeway for both of us to mess up.
I naturally tend to talk things through, but at times it helped to simply eat a good meal, drink lots of water, have a really big dessert, search for cute dog Vines (RIP Vine) and go to sleep.
As the shock wore off, I found talking through things with the people who love me, journaling, praying, reading the Bible, reading other books that inspire me, meditating, watching a beautiful movie, searching for cute cat Vines and sleeping all quite helpful. This was all part of the time needed to process the change.
2. Look for the Positive
Twice in the last year I've heard a manager say, "this had absolutely nothing to do with your performance", after informing me that I'd be part of broader layoffs.
Being laid off twice in a year is frustrating to say the least. Being told I had done nothing to cause it was even more disheartening.
After taking time to process, it was important for me to look (more like scour) for something positive. Even in the worst of circumstances, positive things can be found.
Looking back now, I can see so many positive results of both layoffs. One positive result of leaving HP was spending nearly a month at home with my new wife (while I looked for a job). We went on walks nearly every day, talked, prayed and had valuable time to spend together in our first months of marriage.
I'd suggest setting a daily or weekly time to write down anything positive and looking back at that list regularly. This is probably a good practice to follow whether you're experiencing dramatic change or not.
3. Take the Next Step
When big change happens, it can paralyze us. Remember you don't have to have a new direction for your life all figured out. Instead make a list of small achievable things to do today and do those things. It seems simple, but for me the process of adding and marking off tasks on my todo list gave me a sense of accomplishment. It helped me gain focus and direction again.
For me moving forward was rewriting my resume, updating LinkedIn, reaching out to business contacts and applying for 150 jobs in a week (both times). Directly followed by waiting and emails and interviews and negotiations and decisions and contracts and moving across the country (both times).
Your circumstances won't magically improve. Begin putting in the work. There is always a next step.
Header Photo from Unsplash.