“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