How I prepared for big changes in my life

I’ve been on my own personal rollercoaster this month. I’ve just finished moving countries during a pandemic, where I returned to my flat in London that I haven’t been in for over a year. Since I’ve travelled from abroad, I had to quarantine in a shared house with housemates. In the midst of that, I had to finish my job and return my laptop (one final day back in the office!). Unfortunately due to the circumstances, the best way to do this was in the space of two weeks, making everything have an added time pressure.

I had to finalise moving out, organise my things to send them through boxes, and finally return to Brussels on the train with a bunch of luggage. This was essentially five full days of waking up, packing and selling furniture with pauses to eat. With a lot of it in quarantine, I couldn’t really move outside the room that I was trying to move out of either. (Oh, and my bed broke, meaning I had to build a new one before moving out too!)

In total, I’ve taken 6 PCR tests (all negative!), completed two separate quarantines, moved out of a flat and signed my contract for my new job after having finished my final day in the last one.

So I wanted to write a little bit about how I prepared for this pretty grueling few weeks. Ahead of time, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to my month of July due to these reasons. I’ve made life-changing decisions in an intense time pressure, all the while worrying that one positive COVID test would through all my moving-out plans out of the window. Such decisions aren’t easy at the best of times, but they are even more complicated during a worldwide pandemic.

I’ll start by saying I am a planner at heart, which meant I am quite used to meticulously planning an itinerary of dates. I enjoy having the dates checked, and tend to be a fairly organised person. So for me, at least making sure the dates worked was something I was personally more comfortable with. That said, I also spent a pretty substantial amount of time worrying over the details and often getting overwhelmed by the challenge I was about to face (which is the downside of being a planner!).

I was fortunate that lockdown ended in Belgium in June, meaning I could restart my yoga practice which really helped me here. Rebuilding some strength was certainly helpful for carrying boxes, though that was only a part of it! I found my moments of pause and reflection allow me to process a lot of emotional baggage that I knew was to come.

Moving flats is always tiring and stressful, and there were also a lot of changes I had to come to terms with – saying goodbye to my place of work for the past 4 years, and moving away from my country of birth. On top of that, it would be a stilted and unsatisfying goodbye as due to COVID I only saw a few people before leaving.

Unexpectedly, the quiet time for reflection I had during yoga made me feel these emotions quite intensely a good month in advance. But unlike the usual bouts of worrying which tended to help rather than hinder, it allowed me to emotionally process some of the difficulties I anticipated. It was a strange experience being sad ahead of time it actually left me feeling quite despondent, despite nothing yet having passed. And yet, if I didn’t take that time beforehand, the emotions would have been much more difficult to handle when I was in London, making the experience even more stressful.

Outside of yoga, I had some time to properly reflect as to whether moving countries was the right thing for me. Working with my own coach, as well as taking time to reflect on my own values, I had time to really accept that what I was doing was right for me. Although I still have small waves of doubts, this has given me a clarity of purpose over the last few weeks to keep soldiering on without having that feeling that this is all a terrible mistake.

Coming out of the other side of this, I still feel pretty exhausted, and there are still some hurdles to come. Still, I feel I’ve broadly achieved something here by managing so many life changes in an intense amount of time. I’m not going to pretend that I did everything perfectly, or that the last month hasn’t taken an emotional toll either.

But I think that there are some valuable things that you might be able to take by reading this, particularly in dealing with the emotional side for big changes. My observation is that whilst we often plan the physical side, the mental side can be something we might neglect. Even if you might not do yoga, you may find an alternative which gives you space to properly emotionally process what is going on around you. Taking time to reflect on what you really want and being clear on how your decisions are leading to that are also really important.

So I hope sharing this experience is helpful for you, do let me know in the comments!

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