Recently we talked about how small change is ok. Sometimes you can’t save the world, but you can make your small part of the world a little bit better.
Today we’re going to talk about the flip side. Sometimes you want or need to make a big change. And that can be scary.
If you have a lot of high-interest debt, it might be the best idea to do the unthinkable and down-size to a smaller house. Or drop down to one car. At least until you get your finances in order again. That big change might eliminate years of horrible stress. The one-time cut in lifestyle might even be better for your kids than the repeated stresses of financial difficulty.
If your career is making you miserable, it might be time to find a new one. If you hate where you live, it might be time to leave. Even if you’re tenured. Even if you’ve never known or wanted anything other than academia.
Sometimes relationships just don’t work out and it’s more productive to be alone than to keep trying to stay together, especially if the relationship is in any way abusive, but even if you’ve just grown apart. Obviously this is a very personal decision and can be a scary step to take, but cutting ties might be better than staying just for the sake of staying. Think of the children! Studies show that kids are much happier when their parents have a polite divorce than when they have a craptacular marriage.
One of my students recently told me that except for having children, most decisions can eventually be reversed. That may not be completely true. Although you can often buy a new car to replace an old one, you may not be able to do the same for the house you shouldn’t have bought in the first place. An ex-significant-other may marry someone else or just no longer be interested (though who knows if you would have stayed together anyway). You generally can’t get back tenure at the place you left (though, oddly, one of my recently hired colleagues used to work in my department something like 2o years ago). But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find amazing housing. Or a partner you love who will love and cherish you. (Or the happiness of being on your own without a partner.) Or a job that brings you fulfillment and isn’t just golden (or brass) handcuffs.
Sometimes a big change will make a big difference. And sometimes it’s a mistake in retrospect, but mistakes can be learned from and overcome. Sometimes it’s better to take the chance and see what comes next than to live with the status quo.
Big changes can be ok too.