Seven things I have learned about Change.
1. Don’t assume.
Nothing is ever what it seems. When you are embarking on a new journey, you are filled with
anticipation and excitement or the opposite, trepidation, and fear. Either way, do not assume, try to
be present in the very moment. What do you smell, taste, touch and see in front of you? Change is
scary and I have found that staying in the moment, keeps me grounded and allow me to just take in
my surroundings and to listen to what is happening around me. Sometimes we experience the exact
opposite of what we expected, and that is also ok. It is just another form of our realities that we
created. The perfect example is my assumption I made about my neighbour. The first time I met her,
I thought of her as rude and inconsiderate and I disliked her immediately. For the first 8 months of
us living next to each other, we detested each other, based on our inbred biases and misconceptions
of each other. It turned out that we shared so many similar interests. Not only did we have similar
interests, but we were a match made in heaven. I was a struggling author, and she was a publisher
looking for authors. When we eventually buried the hatchet and called for a peace treaty, we
connected as if we were old friends and now share many laughs over a cup of tea and planning our
2. Do your research – planning is the key.
When I was younger, I would just wing it. If I were asked to speak, I would just get the topic, ask who
the audience is, and then I know I have one end goal of what I want to speak about – and I would
just wing it. It would go fine, no problems, but it would not be exceptional – but back then I did not
care about being exceptional as I was in my comfort zone. I knew everyone, everyone knew me, I
could just wing it and get away with it. But and it is a big but, when you go through change, a new
career, new country, a new life, whatever your big change is – you have to prepare! It is new, it is
unchartered territory, and you could probably just wing it and survive, but you are not embarking on
a new journey, just to survive, are you? You are choosing new, because you know there is more than
what you currently have, and you want to have it. Then you have to do your planning and research
thoroughly to obtain it. I compared moving to a new country, to riding a bike. You know how to ride
the bike; it is just the terrain you need to study. Some roads have pothole and is more difficult to
ride, but if you go slow and steady, you will get there – and some are highways, which might take you
there quicker, but at the risk of being hit by a car.
3. Find a guide/coach/community.
Having a mentor was essential for me during every single ‘new’ that I experienced. Whether it was a
new business, new job, new country or new life – I always made sure I had someone who is
experienced in this field to mentor and guide me through the potholes. You need support to see you
through your new journey and I have found it invaluable to have had an excellent mentor during
each phase. When I moved from South Africa to Netherlands, I went there prior to the move to
scout and see if this is for us. One of the first things I did, was to walk around the town a few times,
talk to the locals and just observe how they interacted with each other, the way they dressed, how
loud they laugh and what they find funny. I then looked for someone in event, as I know that person
will be the best person in the know and invite her out for a cup of coffee, which she gracefully
accepted. She gave me great insight into the mentality of the people and what could work and what
would not work, but most of all – we connected. To this day, she is one of my closest friends I have.
Yes, even at 40, you can find a soul connection with someone you don’t know and build a lasting
friendship from this. So go on social media and reach out to groups that have similar experiences or
challenges as you do. I will let you in on a little secret – people like to help others. It makes us feel
good to help others and we enjoy sharing our knowledge with those who are brave enough to ask –
so just ask!
4. Chaos is created to wash away what isn’t and bring you what is.
You have to know what you don’t want in order for you to know what you do want. We often
bemoan our fate and say, why me? What have I done to deserve this? But it is the opposite. You
should exclaim – thank you! Thank you for showing me what I don’t want, now I can move on and go
after what I do want. It is a blessing to go through the divine storm. When nothing seems to work for
you and your entire world collapse around you, you know it is simply time to unclench your tight
little fists around what you thought you wanted and to let go. Surrender to the unknown and know
that it is safe for you to explore unchartered waters. Our forefathers have done it before us,
exploring new countries, with a simplistic wooden boat, a handmade compass, and a boatful of
enthusiasm. When it is time for new, set your intentions and goals of what you do want, and your
compass will automatically find your true north for you.
5. What’s the worst that can happen?
Learn to relax and enjoy the moment. Ask yourself this question; What is the worst that can happen
to me if this goes wrong?
When it comes to major changes in life, you will be met with resistance and contradictory advise
from others. The worse are normally our friends and family. “Why would you want to go and do
that? You don’t know the first thing about it. But there are so many designers already, why would
they choose you? No offence, but you don’t have the nicest figure, do you really think, he will go out
with you? Isn’t John more experienced for the managing position, why would they choose you? And
so, it goes on. The number one rule when you are about to embark on a new journey – tell nobody.
Your confidence is at an all level low and you are doubting if you can actually make it. So go to the
first few steps and do those by yourself, then once you have all the research, the mentor and inside
knowledge, just go for it and give it a try. What is the worst that can happen? Probably, that you
didn’t get the promotion, or the guy or start the business this time. But the experience you have
build up from trying, sets you above those that didn’t even bother putting themselves out there.
These lessons, no one can take away from you and as long as you learn a lesson from this and grow,
you are 80 % better off than those that didn’t try at all. Then what if you do try and you succeed!
The bigger the risk, the sweeter the rewards.
6. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Learn to laugh at your mistakes and mishaps. The world truly is here to be enjoyed. Our purpose is to
explore and try new things, to learn, to grow and to evolve. I can promise you one thing though – if
you can learn to laugh at yourself, and to see the humour in everything, then you will become
unstoppable. We tend to take life so seriously; we are so scared that we are going to say the wrong
thing or that we are going to look stupid for trying – so we stay exactly where we are – stunted in
our comfort zone. The minute you relax and learnt to laugh it off as an experience, then you have
already won, because you learned something from the experience and moved on to try the next
thing. I remember when I just started out in my business, I had zero experience in publishing and
tried and failed so many times, I could not keep up. We were struggling financially as every spare
cent we had – we invested back into our businesses. My husband and I both had our own businesses
and with a 1-year-old to boot. We moved between 7 different houses in a space of 3 years. It was
crazy, but we did what we had to do to keep our businesses going and to still make time for the
family. The only reason we managed to do this, was our ability to laugh at ourselves and our
situation. We chose to see the funny side in everything, instead of the dread and hardships we
experienced. We played games, we watched funny movies, we teased each other about our failures,
and we had fun all along the way. I remember when I was in my second year of business, I was
nominated as the Top 40 Under 40 by the Business Chamber. We were living in someone else’s
backyard, and I had to borrow money from my dad, just to put in petrol in my car. But I pitched up at
the party and accepted my award, as if it was my divine right (which it was) and I went back to meet
my friends at a braai and they could not stop teasing me about this accolade – if only the business
community could see you now – they would laugh and I would laugh with them and I would say – if
only you could see me with my business community now – you wouldn’t laugh so hard and then I
laughed even louder. Just relax, enjoy this gift called life and have fun in the process. In South Africa
we have a saying – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
7. Break those rules that kept you small and learn to love yourself.
I was 5-years old when my mother committed suicide. My little word was turned upside down and
inside out and life as I knew it changed. The repercussions of her actions left me deeply scarred and I
was ill-equipped to deal with life in a normal manner. I became conflicted, shamed and needed to
feel important. I was too young to understand what happened and the influences in my life, was
conflicting – on the one hand, I was deeply loved and cared for but on the other hand, I was shunned, abused and told to stop feeling sorry for myself. So, I did what most of us women do, we
internalise our pain and confusion and absorb it into our hearts and minds and we tell ourselves a
story to try and make sense of the chaos and confusion.
And so, I started to tell myself a little lie.
This lie became the essence of who I was for many years and left behind a trail of destruction and
leading to even more conflict.
Until the day, when my carefully crafted walls came crumbling down and all the many masks came
off and I was as naked and vulnerable as a new-born babe.
And for the first time, I had to learn to love and accept myself for who I really was. Mistakes and all.
I had to force myself to look in the mirror, to truly see myself and to embrace my darkness with my
And from that moment on, I became unstoppable. Because once you are able to truly see yourself
with your mask off and to love yourself regardless of all the flaws you have, you will become
May you have the courage to debunk all the lies you have been telling yourself for so long and to
break those damn rules that kept you small and insignificant and become the magnificent being you
are meant to be.