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Changing Directions: 6 Tips to Help You Do What’s Right for You

Man at a Crossroads

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” ~Lao Tzu

One month before my girlfriend, Sara, gave birth to our first child, we decided to move back to my small hometown to be close to my family.

This was a great moment for my family, especially for my mom and dad, who had given up hope of me moving back a decade ago.

I sold my apartment and we signed a rental lease in my hometown. Everything was set and good to go. Sara and I were happy, and we had a plan to follow once the baby was born.

However, the joy lasted no longer than a long Norwegian summer month.

When our daughter, Luna, entered the world on the first of June, Sara and I had big doubts about our move.

Sara didn’t have a job in my hometown, and there aren’t many jobs available. She’d probably have to commute to a larger city, Stavanger. That would result in her spending three-plus hours commuting, losing time with our newborn daughter and me.

We were aware of this situation before. However, after Sara gave birth, she realized that she didn’t want to spend more time away from Luna and me than absolutely necessary.

Also, we couldn’t get a bank loan since Sara didn’t have a job and I’d just started my business. And the monthly cost of renting is a lot more expensive than owning an apartment.

Lastly, we did not have the same network of people in my hometown as we do in nearby Oslo (the capital of Norway).

Even though we both had a gut feeling that it was wrong, it was still a hard choice to make.

First of all, we had nowhere to live. I’d already sold my apartment and I didn’t want to cancel the deal, since it would cost me about $10,200 in expenses.

It was even more expensive to rent in nearby Oslo than in my hometown, which would make it an even worse deal.

And I didn’t actually want to rent, since I’d previously owned an apartment. I thought it would feel like taking several steps back.

I talked to the real estate agent who sold my apartment, and he said that the prices on property would continue to rise, regardless of the media saying that the prices would soon have to reach their peak. So buying an apartment would be the best move for us.

Since I’m normally a calculated guy who is good when it comes to planning and making strategic decisions, I was embarrassed that we were having a change of heart.

My mind was probably clouded by knowing that I was going to become a father for the first time.

I didn’t want to hurt my dear family’s feelings, but we had to follow our gut instinct.

After several evenings of the same discussion and a feeling of uneasiness that made it hard for us to sleep, relax, be happy, and enjoy our time with our newborn daughter, it was time to do what was right, regardless of how difficult it was.

I’ve been through a lot of challenges and changes in my life; however, this is by far most challenging choice I’ve had to make.

Why? Because it involved hurting the feelings of the people who I love the most—my dear family.

Still, we made the decision that we knew was right for us, and it was time for some massive action.

We cancelled the rental lease in my hometown, searched online for apartments (both for rent and for sale), and chose three for sale that we would take a closer look at the next day.

After seeing those apartments, I told my family that we weren’t moving, due to our lack of secure income, and explained our situation. They were, of course, sad but they understood the situation.

Fortunately, we won the bidding war and were able to buy the apartment we liked the best. When I told my family the good news, they were happy for us, despite their disappointment (which is one of the reasons why they mean so much to me).

We did all this in a period of three days. None of this would have happened if Sara and I didn’t have a strategy and take massive action.

Throughout this process, I learned six lessons about changing directions.

1. Accept the change.

Your life situation can change in a split second, and you have to adapt.

It’s not always easy to change your mind in life, but even if it’s hard, it’s worth the effort in the short-term to avoid feeling unhappy and regretful in the long-term.

Sara and I would have been unhappy if we moved, since every single fiber in our body told us that it was the wrong decision.

2. Don’t procrastinate.

Procrastinating on big decisions only makes it worse, and they will weigh you down and can make you become depressed.

3. Face the fear.

It’s natural to feel afraid of making a hard decision when you fear upsetting other people. However, the most important thing is that you are happy. The people who love you likely understand this and realize that you need to do what’s best for you.

4. Explain the situation.

You might fear that people will judge you for your decisions. I was afraid of this too, but they understood when I explained why we needed to make this choice. In addition, the explanation took a bit of the sting out of the bad news.

5. Follow your gut feeling.

Tune into your intuition. It will tell you what the right decision is.

You might feel physically sick when you think about the choice that isn’t actually right for you. You might find yourself asking people for advice and hoping they’ll give you a specific answer, which means that it’s likely the answer your intuition is telling you is right.

6. Decide to act—and then do it.

The same recipe for achieving your goals also applies to making a change.

  • You have to identify what you want to change in your life.
  • You have to find out the price of the change. What do you have to sacrifice?
  • You have to have a strong why. Why should you be willing to go outside your comfort zone and complete challenging activities in order to create change?
  • Then you have to decide. Are you willing to pay the price in order to successfully implement the change in your life?
  • If you decide that you will make the change, you have to commit to completing all the necessary tasks whether you feel like it or not.

Remember that you can’t make everyone happy. The most important thing is to think about your own needs. Only by taking care of your needs can you be there for other people.

Now you have the recipe for how to handle big changes.

Go out there, follow your gut, and face your fears!

At the end of the day you are the one who have to live with the consequences of your choices. You will thank yourself in the long run when the storm has settled.

Man at crossroad image via Shutterstock

Profile photo of Tor Refsland

About Tor Refsland

Tor Refsland decided to leave his six-figure job in order to follow his passion—to help online entrepreneurs SAVE TIME and INCREASE RESULTS. Want to become more productive? Download his free eBook and learn how to double your productivity in 7 days.

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  • What an amazing story Tor! What is really inspiring is that despite all the changes that you have had to go through, you have done a brilliant job of publishing work that is truly epic. Keep on writing buddy!

  • Hannah

    This is exactly what I needed to read right now. Thank you so much for taking the time to write up your story, and for your encouragement.

  • Hi Hannah, thanks a lot for commenting. I am so glad that my journey could be of help.

    My burning passion is to help other people, and comments like yours make all the hard work and effort so worth it 🙂

    You can do it too!

    Have an awesome weekend!

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Peter,

    thanks a lot for your comment. I really appreciate your kind words.

    The thing with life is that unexpected challenging events will always occur…

    and often at the worst time possible.

    That is why we need to keep our head calm, make and plan and follow through.

    It can be a REALLY painful when you are in the middle of the storm, but the storm will pass.

    When a storm approaches, you usually have two choices:
    – to seek shelter and wait it out
    – to move away from the storm

    I prefer the latter.

    Have an awesome day!

    Best,

    Tor

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  • Diane

    This is so true. I’ve had so many changes in the last 1.5 years: ending my 20 year marriage and learning to live on my own again, reconnecting with my childhood crush after 40 years, deciding to move to a different state to be with said crush, both of us experiencing unemployment at the same time, and now that he has a job we are moving to another state. Lots of upheaval, but it’s all good. Truly. What is life without a challenging journey and trusting your instincts to do what’s best for you. I have faith it will all work out in the end.

  • Hi Diane,

    thanks a lot for sharing your story. The great Tiny Buddha readers and me really appreciate it.

    If you are NOT happy with your life.

    There is only one person who can do something about it…

    YOU!

    It`s never too late to make a change.

    Great to hear that you have made changes and followed your heart.

    I am SURE that it will work out for you!

    Have an awesome day.

    Best,

    Tor

  • Sue Anne Dunlevie

    “Follow your gut” is what I use also, Tor. It has served me well.

    I enjoyed reading your story of change. Thanks for sharing it.
    Sue

  • Cathy Goodwin

    Your story isn’t unique. I’ve written a book on relocation and many people move, only to realize they’ve made a bad decision. Often you won’t know till you’ve made the jump.

    I’ve had to walk away from bad investments and wrong choices and you’re usually in a much stronger position afterward. Intuition is wisdom!

  • Love your story Tor. One cannot go wrong following that “gut” feeling aka our intuition. We cannot take action to make everyone around us happy. Our family and friends will be happy for us when we make our own decisions and are leading a fulfilling life. Although you had to move away, it was necessary and had to make the change. Fantastic for all of us to recognize within ourselves.
    -Donna

  • Great story, Tor! Thanks for sharing it with your readers.
    Speaking about change… I am in the middle of a two years plan for quitting my engineering job and becoming a full time writer. Moreover… I will also change the country which I live in. Therefore… I can easily relate with your words.

  • It is SOOO epic hearing more about your story, Tor! It’s so hard to make decisions sometimes, especially when the heart and head aren’t totally in alignment. I have a tendency to act with my head over my heart but either way sometimes the agony of committing to one is a lot worse than the ramifications of the actual choice itself.

    I love how you talked about ‘explaining the situation’ too! Sometimes telling people about a decision is one of the hardest parts, but most times people will understand situations and be much more empathetic if you simply explain what’s going on.

    I applaud you two for digging deep and doing what was best for your new family. NO ONE can fault you for that. Thanks again for sharing more of yourself, brotha – it was truly great to hear! <3

  • Hi, Tor,

    I enjoyed reading your story, awesome! Facing the fear is a getting over a huge hurdle. Once we face it and are willing to leave our comfort zone, it’s much easier. Following our instincts is a little scary sometimes, but well worth it in my opinion. I do this also. Yep, balking at taking action will get us no where, seemingly simple, but so glad you included this step!

    Awesome share, Tor, thank you!

    ~Carol

  • Hi Tor,
    Great post and congrats on our new daughter and on taking massive action! There’s a great recipe here for handling big changes and I really liked how you related it to a personal story.

  • Sherman Smith

    Hey Tor,

    Change is hard for the average person. Especially making those vital decisions that come upon us. But in the end in most cases we feel that a lot of weight was lifted off of us.

    This was a great story. Yes you may have to disappoint your loved ones, but the reason why they’re your lived ones is because they undwest and the situation. You have to make yourself happy first or else not only you’ll make yourself miserable but also the people around you.

    Thanks for sharing Tor! Have a great weekend!

  • Well done Tor 🙂

    Ryan

  • Thanks for sharing your story, Tor! Seems like you and Sara made the best decision you could in such a delicate time in your life. Your tips for making tough decisions are excellent and spot on. Good luck to you and yours for all future big decisions!

  • Hey Tor,

    Wow, those are some serious changes that you two were looking at making. I appreciate you sharing this with us because change is inevitable right!

    I may not be going through something as serious as this at the moment but in some ways it almost feels that way to me. With the changes I’m making on my blog due to the direction I’m going for my business I too didn’t want to let people down. When you have so many people supporting you and what you do and then you just change directions and it may no longer suit them, well they are bound to be disappointing people. If they care about you though they’ll support you and what you’re doing which to me is what real friends are for.

    I know you made the best decision for you and your new family and of course your family loves and supports you as well.

    Great tips Tor, thank you again for sharing those with us and great job on the guest post.

    ~Adrienne

  • Hi Tor,

    So great of you to share some your own personal story. I did something rather similar on Carol Amato’s blog recently — and I’m starting to understand how powerful it is to be authentic with our readers.

    I firmly believe that intelligent people should reserve the right — at any time — to change their opinion. It isn’t a matter of flip flopping or poor judgment, it’s just that as things change, we must be adaptable, too.

    Great article!

  • Tor,
    You are exactly right: the six steps you outlined are the best route to making a change, especially if it is one you really DON’T want to make. I could feel your pain in disappointing your family, who had so hoped you were moving home again. But you did the fiscally responsible thing in buying instead of renting. It was the decision that was right for you.

    None of us has a crystal ball. We haven’t been here before. It’s hard to know what the right path is for us, and sometimes we’re going to go down the wrong path. But when we figure that out, as you and Sara did, then we can make the necessary corrections.

    I wish your family much happiness with your new baby.

  • Hey Tor,

    Great tips you shared here.

    Isn’t it amazing how procrastination is a burden no matter what you try to do — even if it’s for the best?

    At the end of the day, you can weigh all of your options, but it’s still up to you to actually act on your decision regardless. Thanks for sharing your story here.

    – Andrew

  • Hi Andrew,

    thanks a lot for commenting.

    Yes, procrastination is indeed a burden. It can sometimes feel like you are having a nightmare and you are running while having the procrastination bogeyman right behind you, and…

    not matter how fast you try to run, it just gets closer and closer.

    The best way is to follow your gut and take the bull by the horns. You need to find the real root of why you are procrastinating, find out how to fix it and then deal with it ASAP.

    The longer you wait, the bigger the burden will become.

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Brent,

    thanks a lot for stopping by to comment. It means a lot.

    Yes, it was a bit uncomfortable to write this article, because it`s SO personally. It`s like throwing off your clothes and say: “hey, this is how I really look” (yeah, that was personality wise) 😉

    How good your are at handling the challenges life is throwing you way, will be an important part to decide WHERE you are going.

    And you better be prepared, because life is like a twisted version of Santa Clause; giving presents in form of challenges, and a lot more than once per year 😉

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hey Adrienne,

    thanks a lot for stopping by to comment. I really appreciate it.

    Thanks for sharing your story as well, Adrienne.

    Yeah, it`s all about being TRUE to yourself and your real passion. That is how you will become truly happy and will be able to help more people in an even better way.

    Doing a big change regarding your blog after you have built such a big and engaging community is very hard, I can only imagine.

    That being said, I know that your REAL friends and supporters will support and help you, no matter what.

    Good luck on the change, my friend. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you out.

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Andrea,

    thanks a lot for your kind words. I appreciate it BIG time 🙂

    Tor

  • Thanks a lot, Ryan 🙂

    Tor

  • Hi Sherman,

    thanks a lot for your comment and your support.

    I rally appreciate it.

    Have a great week!

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Bryan,

    thanks a lot for commenting and for your kind words. It means a lot 🙂

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Carol,

    thanks a lot for stopping by to comment. I really appreciate your kind words.

    The only way to really grow as human beings is to go outside our comfort zone and face our fears. It`s can be frightening as heck, but once you do it, you grow…

    and you will get a little bit tougher skin for the next time you have to go outside your comfort zone 🙂

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Andrea,

    thanks a lot for your kind words. I really appreciate it, sis.

    Yeah, if you explain the situation to people in a good and simple way, most of them will understand. Perhaps not right awau, but they will understand it after a while.

    Have a super day!

    Best,

    Tor

  • Thanks for your kind words, MC.

    I really appreciate it. I know EXACTLY what you are going through. I went through the same when I decided to leave my six-figure corporate job. What made it easier was that I had a plan and I followed it. That made the transition easier.

    If you need some sparring, shoot me an email 🙂

    Have a great day!

    Tor

  • Hi Donna,

    it`s so nice to see you here. Thanks a lot for your kind words.

    I truly appreciate your support.

    Have a super day!

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Cathy,

    thanks a lot for sharing from your experience.

    “Intuition is wisdom.” I LOVE that! 😉

    Have a great day.

    Best,

    Tor

  • Thanks a lot for stopping by to comment and for your kind words, Sue.

    I appreciate it a lot 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Have a great day!

    Best,

    Tor

  • Hi Dr. Rin,

    thanks a lot for your great comment and kind words.

    Yes, the worst thing is when you have to let down the people who you love the most. That being said, the only way to truly make other people happy, is to make sure that you are happy yourself. Then, and only then will you be able to truly make other people happy 🙂

    I really appreciate it.

    Thanks a lot for your good wishes. The same goes to you and your loved ones 🙂

    Best,

    Tor

  • Roxana Nasoi

    Loved the article, Tor. Especially since it’s filled with call to action advice. My personal favorite is #6. Once you make up your mind on an action, follow through with it.

    I know it’s hard, but I believe that if you really want to transform (I prefer transformation as opposed to change) your life (personal, business/both), you gotta map the shift. Remember how I talked about the 7year plan in one of your posts? I’m a big fan of 7year plans and most of the time, these include mapping changes and transformations that occur from point A to point B.

    Own each transformation, each change you make and everything will be alright, because you know it’s real, you’re taking responsibility. Hope you don’t mind me sharing this with my groups.