What to Do When Change is Hard

Take a leap of faith! Whether it is changing where you live and moving across country or changing careers and moving to New York City to become an artist. It’s that taking a leap of faith is what will help move past the most challenging parts of change. Experts suggest the following when change is most difficult:

  • First things first; Acknowledge the emotion
  • Allow yourself to grieve for what didn’t happen or what you wanted to happen
  • Acceptance of the fact that life is not always necessarily going to work out in the ways we want “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment,” – Anonymous
  • Change your viewpoint and put it in perspective (is this realistic? Are my expectations too ridged?) “Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ― Irving Berlin
  • Share with friends, family, neighbors, a spiritual advisor, etc. (the “touchstones” in our lives) Proverb: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  • Practice relaxation techniques to assist in regulating emotions. Try whatever works best for you. Many people find it beneficial to utilize multiple “tools” such as:



Deep breathing

Guided imagery/visualization


Progressive muscle relaxation

Rhythmic exercise, walking, dancing, etc.


Listening to music (one of my favorites!)

  • Smile – Fake it until you make it! Not in a “delusional” sense or in “denying” what is happening around you but rather because smiling helps to dispel some of the unpleasant feelings and emotions should we get lost in the proverbial “rabbit hole” of negativity. “Don’t wear a smile to disguise the sorrow. Throw away the costume and just face it all,” – Shanna Rodriguez
  • Practice kaleidoscopic thinking: Slight adjustments to the original “plan” may help to look at things in a new light or perspective and ease the pain of change. (Rosabeth Moss Kanter coined the term)
  • Practice thinking differently: “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” ― Muhammad Ali. What if the pebble was that negative voice saying, “Change is scary, don’t do it”. Pause and remove the pebble from your shoe, then keep walking. Or as Walt Disney’s famous character Dory put it, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”

So, do I run from change, stay stuck, miserable, and wonder why things are not improving? Or do I face the change, endure the pain, and grow? It’s getting better, but I was always the one fighting change, getting myself wrapped up in so much pain that I literally must surrender, fall to my knees, and ask for help in changing what needs to be changed.

One of my favorite quotes regarding change is: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” –John C. Maxwell.

The pain comes from how we feel about what has changed. Not talking about those good, positive feelings, oh no, those are the easy feelings to accept and deal with. On the contrary, it is always the negative feelings that are typically so tough to handle. Feelings such as fear, anger, worry, self-pity, selfishness, foolish decisions, panic, sorrow, grief, frustration, disappointment, hate, helpless, depression, sad, betrayed – shall I go on?

It is imperative to acknowledge our emotional response; however, we must not give in and let it control us. We do not have the power to make everything go the way we want or expect. I am not the master of ceremonies here! Instead, it is in how we choose to handle it.

In other words, we are the boss of how we feel or respond. Most importantly, we do not have to let those problematic emotions control us. We can just feel the feelings, work through them, then let them go and be open to the upcoming change.

Here’s another fav, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” (This quote has been attributed to the Dalai Lama, Haruki Murakami, and M. Kathleen Casey)

Where do I start if I want to change careers?

Ok, so let’s return to the idea of making a career change. This change potentially will affect more than the person making the change. Possibly a whole family with kids that have to go to new schools and grandparents that are left behind because the change moves you across the country and now you have no childcare. Sounds like a nightmare to me!

It’s been said that you’ll never work a day in your life if you do what you love. For me, right now, that statement is true. But we know that a change will come as soon as we get used to something. So how would I deal with a potential career change at this stage of my life? Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Assess satisfaction: If you’re not getting energized and excited, and you no longer look forward to work, determine if a career change is a solution
  • Analyze and determine interests, core values, and skills to align with possible career aspirations
  • Explore alternatives of working in a different industry or job function
  • See what opportunities are even out there, research potential job prospects, and create a list of desired positions
  • Develop a step-by-step course of action to effectively and efficiently navigate the desired career change
  • Rebrand! Evaluate how you present yourself to prospective employers. Update résumés, networking profiles, and other materials
  • Interview multiple professionals to gain valuable insight into a new industry or job role
  • Consider shadowing, apprenticeships, or even internships to gain an on-the-job understanding of the daily tasks
  • Pursue volunteer and freelance positions to gain priceless portfolio items to share with employers
  • Earn additional certifications or degrees to gain an edge in the industry
  • Increase competency by taking courses, reading books, and attending workshops to stay up to date on the latest trends in the industry
  • Start looking for available roles in your desired field, and go for it!

How does moving affect a teen?

Now let’s go back to the change being a “move.” And even more specifically, moving teenagers out of their current school district. What happens, then? We must work on our own change as well as help our children adjust to change in the most healthy manner possible.

Research shows that changing residences could cause various problems during the teen years, including lower grades, deviant behavior, problematic friendships, and weak school engagement. For a child, academic failure can be devastating to self-esteem. Low self-esteem is common among depressed children and teens. Changing schools may have lasting effects on children, with findings showing kids who moved frequently have fewer quality relationships as adults and higher dropout rates.

A study of 7th and 8th graders found that those who moved once between those grades had lower reading and math scores the following year, regardless of their previous academic achievement.

Another study showed that students who experienced multiple residential moves during their adolescent years were more likely to report higher rates of fighting, truancy, and destruction of property.

The good news is that there are things you can do to ease the transition for your teen. By being aware of their challenges and making a plan to address them, you can help your child thrive during this time of change.

What to do when change is hard

Change can be challenging, but it can also be gratifying. Yes, it is hard because it means leaving the familiar behind and embracing the unknown while also dealing with our feelings, emotions, and fears that come along with the change.

Remember, though, with any change comes growth and new possibilities. Change offers us the chance to discover our true passions and purpose. Change can lead to wonderful possibilities with the right attitude, determination, and support. However, as parents, we must be cognizant of how change affects our teens and do our best to help them adjust to new environments and adapt to change. Ultimately, we truly do comprehend that change can be a powerful tool to find a better version of ourselves if only WE get out of the way! Our most significant barrier to change lies between our ears –