Newsletter 578 – Moving

moving cartoonDepending on the survey you consult, moving is one of the most stressful experiences in life. Moving can involve major change, disruption, sad separations and uncertainty. Sometimes there is enthusiasm about the prospects of something new, but even then relocation can bring major anxiety and grief, especially when the move is unwanted, resisted, or long distance. These stresses apply to a variety of changes. Moving offices, businesses, churches or libraries are examples. Even moving from one job or career to another can be fraught with uncertainty and fear.

Usually this weekly post draws on some recent publication, but this time I’m commenting on something more personal. My wife and I are in the midst of a move that involves downsizing, getting rid of “stuff” that’s been accumulating for years, and moving from a house to an apartment. But moving has relevance beyond changing residences. At times everybody moves. Leaders often move their companies, both physically but also in terms of an organization’s direction, purposes, and missions. This can include urging people to move when change is needed but resisted. Sometimes the stress of staying where we are can ultimately be greater than the stress of going forward.

Here are conclusions that apply to most transitions and to the people we lead, counsel, mentor or coach:

Recognize that moving often takes more time, involves more stress, and costs more than you previously anticipated.

  • Expect vacillating emotions, depending in part, on your circumstances and personal coping competencies. Expect uncertainty, fear, sadness, excitement (sometimes), and a sense of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the process.
  • Know that probably you’ll experience separation anxiety, doubts and questions about the wisdom of what you are doing. Add buyer’s remorse if you make a financial commitment to something new.
  • Accept help. Draw in your support network even if it is small. Don’t be reluctant to ask for assistance, even if you’re among those of us who like to be independent and do it all ourselves.
  • Keep God in the process. Last week I hit a low point. Then I read the words of Jesus preparing to move from his earthly ministry. His words (John 14:1, 27) can apply beyond the transitions that the disciples were facing: “Trust in me…. I leave you with a gift of peace…so don’t be troubled or afraid.”

How have you helped yourself or others through a move? Please comment.


  1. One of the first clients I ever coached was around a move and while I was able to help her I learnt so much for myself as well. Her move was not by choice at all so added another dimension altogether. Its a very tough time so yes I agree get all the support you can whatever form it takes. The greatest thing we can do for ourselves is ask for help human and especially divine


    1. Carol, your comment says it all, especially the part about getting help. Thank you. And thanks for the reminder that coaches and other people-helpers can have a significant role in helping others through major transitions. Often I forget that moving can be a huge transition, especially for those who do not want to move or who don’t do it very often.


  2. Agree! Don’t be shy about asking for help. Recently our family moved half-way around the world. The number of people who helped us was incredible and a true showing of the Body of Christ. The Body is supposed to work together. I hope I’ve also learned to be ready to help others in any circumstance as well. It’s such a blessing.


    1. This is a great comment Jenny. I am amazed at people who are coming out of the woodwork with offers of help in our move. And unlike you, we are only moving two miles. But we have been through a couple of those international moves but we’ve only been gone for a year or so, knowing we would return home. Probably every move has unique factors that add their own pressures.


  3. Don’t forget “exhaustion” in the list of things you will experience during a move. If I were to make a list of the five most exhausted times I have ever experienced in my life … at least three of the five would be connected to moving. Physical and mental exhaustion is part-and-parcel with moving, in my book.


    1. Ken. You are a good coach and once again you are right on target. This should have been obvious but your post led to an “ah-ha” experience. Of course the fatigue factor is huge. Why did I miss it in what I wrote? And suddenly it dawned on us why we seem so tired all the time.


  4. We did our “downsize move” this past year, after 30 years of home ownership. We had a “goodbye party” in our home with our neighbors and friends, once the house was empty! It was BYOC…bring your own chair. Memories were shared and it brought us closure. We now live in an apartment where I don’t miss shoveling snow, cleaning gutters, weeding gardens, scraping ice off the car, etc. It provides less stress and a beautiful view. Tip: take your time to find just the right place.


    1. Hey Rich. In many ways you and I are kindred spirits. I was encouraged by your note. We did not take a lot of time to pick the place because we knew where we wanted to go. But now we need to sell the current house and deal with all the issues of moving, including the legal and financial stuff. I hate it and get stressed out more than I should but like millions before us, we’ll get through it and be glad we did what we are doing at this time in life.


      1. The right real estate agent to hold your hand makes a difference. We hired someone who knew the neighborhood. He and his wife asked permission to redecorate a bit to stage it. They had a garage full of materials that made our place shine. We didn’t take it personally. And, the good news is that they didn’t want to charge for staging. The right, experienced agent really helps with the legal and financial. And, with the $500,000 capital gains exemption the tax return wasn’t a problem either. The move is brutal, the ridding of so many items, likewise. Some tears get shed…very stressful, but the freedom that comes afterwards is beautiful…really beautiful.

  5. Hi Gary–Love your blog. We just moved to west coast and can resonate to this post. Say hello to Julie. Miss you guys. Haydee and Joshua


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