What You Need to Know When You’re Considering a Big, Scary Change

Man dreaming

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” ~Nelson Mandela

Ten months ago I found myself floating on my back in an outdoor pool somewhere in California. Overhead was a clear blue sky, leaves dancing in the breeze, and birds singing their morning song.

I felt more alive in that moment than I had in years. And so I made a promise to myself, right there and then, not to forget this feeling. I made a promise that I’d follow it. I made a promise that this feeling wouldn’t just be a three-month trip to a new country, but that I’d make it my entire life.

And that’s how I came to be selling the flat I’ve lived in in London, the UK’s capital, for the last eight years.

That’s how I came to be standing on the edge of something entirely new and uncertain and unknown.

That’s how I came to be on the verge of yet another adventure. By noticing something that made me feel alive and promising myself I’d do whatever it took to bring more of that feeling into my life, until that feeling was my life.

So here I am, sitting at my kitchen table, tapping out these words surrounded by the beginnings of packed up boxes, bags for the local charity shops, and the promise of a new life. The promise of a life made up of “that” feeling.

For me, “that” feeling is about nature, wide-open spaces and a large majority of my time spent outdoors.

And I’m excited, I am. There’s real excitement there. But layered up over that excitement?


Here’s why:

Travel’s so exciting, right? It’s adventure and freedom and play and sun and ocean. It’s the romantic idea of exploring new places, meeting new people, and tasting new cultures.

Except, I don’t want to travel. I have no desire to travel the world. No desire to move from place to place. No desire to live out of a suitcase or a backpack. No desire to jump on the Bali bandwagon.

I want a home. A community. A base. I want to be around friends. I want some continuity. And I want a partner to share my life with.

And I have all of that. Right here in London I have it all. (Except the partner, that is.)

But what I also have is an environment that’s suffocating me. I feel hemmed in, limited, detached from my true nature. And I know it’s time to leave.

But leave for what? For where? I’m packing up my life and I don’t even know!

I’m afraid I’ll never find another place that feels like home. Afraid I’ll become a lonely drifter, never quite finding the place I fit in.

I’m afraid I’ll never meet my life partner because I’m unable to settle anywhere.

I’m afraid I’ll wake up one morning and find myself old and alone. I can’t tell you how afraid I am of being alone.

But you know what I know, amongst all that fear?

That without this next step I cannot pass Go, cannot collect $200, and cannot create the most beautiful vision I hold for my life.

The reason I wanted to share this story with you is this:

The beauty of your life is that you get to create it in any way you want. You can create the sort of life that feels truly fulfilling and deeply aligned in every way, but life will always require you to let go of something before the next thing is in sight.

If you find yourself stepping out onto that cliff edge right now, or making a decision to take that step, not knowing what the outcome will be or where you’ll end up, these are things I hope will help:

Sometimes you have to close a door before another will open.

I remember back in 2012 when I left my job to “figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” there was some confusion amongst the people I knew at how I could leave a well-paid, respectable job behind without any real idea of what I wanted to do next.

I didn’t have an answer for them.

The only thing I knew at the time was, “this isn’t it.”

Stepping into that uncertainty paid off. I wound up starting my own business, which I’m grateful for each and every day. And I know, without a shred of doubt, I wouldn’t be here today, doing work I love on my own terms, if I hadn’t made that leap.

And as much as I’m afraid right now, I know this is the same.

Sometimes there are ways to build a bridge between the life you have now and the life you want in the future. But even when that’s possible, at some point, you’re always going to have to make a final leap. And it’s that leap and the final letting go of what was, that opens the way for what will be.

To be reborn, you first have to die. To rise from the ashes, you first have to burn.

Closing doors is scary, yes. But I comfort myself with the knowledge that there are few doors in life that can’t be re-opened in some way, shape, or form. And the likelihood is you’ll never actually want to do that when you see all the new ones that open to you.

Other people’s fear is just that, theirs. Don’t take it with you.

To many people, selling property in London is equivalent to murdering your own child. It’s just not something any sane person does. Alongside my own natural worries and fears about my decision, I’ve had to cope with other people’s fear too.

I’ve had to untangle myself from other people’s thoughts about my life. I’ve had to step aside from the fear other people hold on my behalf.

After nearly four years out in the world carving my own path, this is something I know to be true:

Other people’s fear has nothing to do with you. Do not take it with you. People see life through the lens of their own experience and sometimes they find it difficult to see that their experience might not be the same as yours.

Don’t let other people’s fear hold you back.

Have courage and trust.

Like most people, I’ve lived through some significant, and often tough, life events in my thirty-three years on the planet.

In each of those moments it’s felt like I might not come through. Like the world might end, even. Heartbreak, most recently.

But every time I’ve come through, and I’m beginning to realize I can always handle it. That no matter what life brings, I will, in fact, always be okay.

As you leave the comfort of what you know, whether that’s a relationship, a job, a place or something else, know that you have the strength inside you to cope with every situation life might conjure up.

What happens if you remain where you are?

At the end of the day, I ask myself, what happens if I stay?

My own answer to this question right now is stagnation. And since I believe my ultimate purpose is to grow, I don’t really have much of a choice.

When faced with the fear of stepping into an unknown future, ask yourself, what happens if I don’t? And is that something I’m willing to accept?

Your answer might just give you that final little nudge you need to step into the void and find out what life has in store for you next.

And if all that fails? Well, just remember Oprah, who said there are no wrong paths in life. And Oprah never gets it wrong, right?

About Leah Cox

Leah is a writer, entrepreneur and ever-curious student of life passionately encouraging others to follow their heart with fierce courage. She believes the world needs you to go all in with your dreams. Get a free copy of her ebook, The Conscious Creator’s Manifesto here.

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  • Mariaelena Saracino

    simply amazing.. it’s exactly what I am living right now.. thank you so much

  • Thanks for leaving a comment Mariaelena. So exciting that you’re in the middle of a big transition too?

  • Tom

    Perfect post for those of us that are at a time of uncertainty in our lives. I think the point that resonated with me is GROWTH. If you are not growing in any specific aspect of your life (career, health, relationship,etc), you grow stagnant and before you know it, you have huge regrets and whatifs.


  • Hi Tom,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m with you – for me that’s the ultimate purpose of our being – to grown, to know ourselves, to discover who we are. Sometimes I think growth can also look like rest and standing still from the outside whilst internally a huge amount is shifting and changing.

    Thanks again for leaving a comment and for reading the post.



  • Bec Asha Maitland

    Leah, I loved reading your article, every single word resonated with me! I have also instigated big transition in recent years, sometimes buying into doubt and fear voiced by people around me, though my thoughts and feelings are exactly as you described. I’m inspired by you and excited for what your blank canvas holds 🙂 x

  • T. Marie

    This article was exactly what I needed to read right now. Leah – thank you for the inspiration! I am also at a big transition point, feeling the same sense of stagnation in my current life, and wanting to see the world. I also crave the stability of a home base, community, and a partner, and the two desires seem to be pulling me in opposite directions. But who knows, perhaps I’ll find that stability through traveling the world, right? The thought of leaving my wonderful apartment and my current life is terrifying (as is the thought that I’ll never meet someone if I can’t settle down!), but your article has helped me realize I need to take the leap of faith and trust that other, more amazing doors I can’t even imagine right now will open for me in the future. Thank you for the nudge in the right direction 🙂

  • Andrea

    Amazing – I needed to read this right now. Thank you, and best of luck with your journey.

  • Glad it came at a good time for you, Andrea, and thanks so much for the well wishes.


  • Hi there,

    Really glad this was a good read for you right now. You just never know what you’re going to find. The mind is good at making up stories or fast-forwarding to how things might pan out – but you just never know. I only know that I’ve never regretted any of my major decisions – they’ve always opened up new possibilities that I hadn’t even imagined might come into my life. Good luck with your journey.



  • Thanks so much, Bec! Happy to hear this resonated with you. Congratulations, too, on your big transitions. I’m excited too – a blank canvas indeed.



  • CCee

    This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time. I can totally relate with the excitement mixed with fear part when the door was slammed shut. The fear has gone though (after taking stock of what’s real vs what’s imagined) and opportunities are opening up for me in my new chapter of life. Looks like the universe is confirming that I’m being supported in whichever path I am on.

  • Hi CCee,

    So, so happy to hear that opportunities are opening up for you and you’re feeling supported by the universe. It’s SO exciting what can happen with a willingness to step into the unknown. Wishing you so much goodness for what’s ahead.



  • Jess Ritchie

    This article has also came at a time in my life that I need major change but am afraid. I have been in a stagnant job and relationship for over 10 yrs!
    I know exactly WHERE I want to be, but for some reason the fear of the unknown keeps me from moving forward. I’m very depressed and miserable in my current situation….I just pray that the major changes I want to make will be enough to make me happy?

  • Abbey

    Wow, thank you so much for sharing! This is everything I needed to hear right now.

  • Thanks, Abbey! Really glad to hear it. Love, Leah

  • Hey Jess,

    “but for some reason the fear of the unknown keeps me from moving forward.”

    That is fear’s job. And it’s doing it perfectly.

    “I just pray that the major changes I want to make will be enough to make me happy?”

    My personal direct experience has been that change in the direction of what is true for me supports my happiness but happiness (lasting, true happiness) can NEVER come from anything external. It’s impossible because the external will ALWAYS change.

    You are OKAY, Jess. Life is very good at unfolding, whether we want it to or not.



  • Owen Atkinson

    Thanks for this, and congratulations on being so courageous. 🙂 I’m about to make what for other people is probably a small life change (moving out of home), but as I’m equally afraid of both doing it and not doing it, it’s been hard to make the decision. But this change might create opportunities I haven’t even thought of yet, and even if it all goes bad, it probably won’t be any worse than what I’ve already been through (heartbreak).

  • Andy Bowker

    I moved from the south coast of England to Yorkshire nearly 10 years ago, and after 7 years in Leeds I moved to Huddersfield which feels like home now. Moving location was one of the best things I have ever done. All the best, whatever you decide to do!

  • Liuba Riveros Adasme

    I found myself floating on a lake with a similar feeling recently. The surrendering to a life energy within like no other! And I think am ready to loose myself again 🙂

    Thank you for the post!

  • Kerrie Shebiel Stroud

    Thank you for these words! I just left the teaching profession after 18 years. I want to be a writer. I feel so many of the emotions you expressed in your piece. I am terrified of the what-ifs, but my soul was dying a little each day teaching. The fears of my husband and our financial situation has added to my own worries, leaving me feeling a bit stuck in the “what now?” I truly believe these limiting beliefs are stopping my move forward. Thank you for making me realize I am not alone in my need to be authentic in my life. And it is possible. Best of luck on your journey! Kerrie

  • Hi Kerrie,

    Wow! Congratulations on your leap – I am so, so happy for you. I get the worries, I REALLY, really do but I know for a fact nothing bad comes from pursuing an authentic life – even if externally it might sometimes feel that way. I’d love to hear more about your journey if you’d like – feel free to email me on anytime. And thanks so much for the good wishes. Love, Leah.

  • Hi Liuba,

    Ahhhh, surrendering to a life energy within like no other – what a beautiful way of putting it.

    Love, Leah

  • Ah, brilliant, Andy! It’s good to know the move up north was good for you. I’m from Lancashire so a huge fan or life up north 🙂

  • Thanks so much, Owen.

    And congratulations on your recent decision too – not an easy one to make I’m sure. That’s the beauty of life, you just never know where it’s going to take you. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through a rough time of heartbreak (one of the hardest things in life methinks). I hope the move goes really, really well for you.



  • Andy Bowker

    Booooo .. Lancashire .. lol just kidding 🙂

  • Bahahahaha! 🙂

  • Andy Bowker

    There are some nice places in Lancashire lol. I don’t blame you for leaving London, much as I like visiting the big smoke, and much as there would be lots to do and potentially many friends to make there, I think it would be too hectic a place for me to live. Not sure if you’ve got anywhere in mind but the south coast where I’m from is a good place to live. It is important to find somewhere you can call home, makes a difference 🙂

  • Turns out I’m loving being back in Lancashire and that whilst I had a plan for more ‘exciting’ places, life has a totally different plan in mind 🙂

  • Andy Bowker

    Cool. Some parts of Lancashire I like – Clitheroe and surrounding area is lovely, Lancaster is a nice city and of course Blackpool 🙂 Not so keen on the industrial towns though. My late brother’s ex girlfriend also moved up north and she works in Blackburn, not my favourite place ha

  • heidi

    It’s really assuring to read this article! Coming from my asian cultural background, financial security is always a priority and all changes should only be made with solid plans in advance… I have been playing safe for the last 4 years, maintaining day job and pursuing a music career at the same time… I do feel like that I cannot have a leap forward with music unless i choose to leave my day job but at the same time I am scared of the financial insecurity which may give me even less freedom for doing music…. Some say I should make sure that I earn enough via music before leaving my day job, but with a day job it’s also difficult to get myself to the level of musical proficiency! tough one…

  • Tracy

    Hi, what a great article! I too am wrestling with transition. I have been a teacher for 30 years and am eligible to retire in a year and a half at the age of 55. Of course it is a lot less money then it would be if I stayed another 5 years but I have a constant feeling that during summer break I am the real me and when I am at work I am the fake me. I can barely tolerate the fake me anymore. To afford my freedom I would have to move to a new place much different then what I am used to. I would also probably be going alone since I feel the end is near for my 30 year marriage. I hate that fear is holding me back, a fear of being an old, poor lonely lady. But my resolution for 2017 is to move forward and not look back. Thanks so much for the article, I am so happy there are others that go for it! And you have survived! haha

  • Emma Harvey

    Hi Leah! Just wanted to tell you that every single word you say here resonates with me 100%… couldn’t be more in tune with my thinking….

  • Olga King

    Love this piece. Thank you. 2 years ago I left a job of 20 years into a new field and never looked back. 9 years ago I left a marriage of 18 years and later found a partner I am happiest with for forever. “The beauty of your life is that you get to create it in any way you want. But in order to create the sort of life that feels truly fulfilling and deeply aligned in every way, life will always require you to let go of something before the next thing is in sight.”