Depending 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.