Planning to make a big change? How to get the support of others when you need it most

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PlungeIn a recent article for realbusiness, I suggest seven ways to push yourself out of your comfort zone. That push often involves choosing an approach. Think of getting in a chilly swimming pool; some dive right in and get swimming while others tip-toe in, slowly acclimatising themselves to the temperature.

If we chose to take the plunge, the decision to make a big change isn’t the end of it. Our guest blogger, coach and change expert Liz Copeland of, reminds us that bringing those who are close to us along with it can be a challenge, especially if they are feeling hostile or unnerved. “We’ve possibly all experienced those moments when we announce a decision to adopt a major change, and then been disappointed by the reaction of those around us. What’s worse is that their negativity can then bounce back onto us and result in doubts and what ifs that veer us off course,” Liz explains.

Here are Liz’s suggestions for getting the support of loved ones when making a change:

You may have to do some work

It can take the wind out of your sails when people don’t take your intentions to change as enthusiastically as you might have hoped. But don’t forget that you are a few steps further on than them and be prepared that this is a process that you almost have to coach them through.

You may also have to do some work on yourself to ensure that you are comfortable speaking out and standing up for yourself. You have to feel that your opinions and needs are important and should be respected. If this isn’t the case, you may need to do some wider work around self esteem first.

Let them express their emotions

Expect a whole gamut of reactions: from fear (if you’re losing weight your partner may subconsciously fear that you’ll end up leaving them) to envy (if you’re finally starting your business your friends may envy your new found courage). Let them have their chance to vent, but don’t let their emotions push you off course.

It helps to have clarity

You will find it much easier if you are 100% clear about why you are doing this and how it fits in with your own values. This will give you a strong foundation from which to bat back opposition, or a strong conviction to put up a good argument for what you have decided to do.

You could make it a discussion

Rather than say that you are taking four months off to travel to Australia, start talking about how you’ve always wanted to travel to Australia and see how other people respond and what tangible suggestions they put forward. You may even find that your partner suggests you both take a year’s sabbatical….especially if they think it’s their idea!

Start at the Beginning

Rather than present them with a fait accompli, talk about how unhappy or dissatisfied you are feeling (but don’t imply that this is their fault) so that they understand your reasons behind it. Tell them that something is missing and see if they can help you come with some solutions. If you’re with someone who isn’t introspective you may find that they’re great on coming up with practical actions that you can take, and you may need to do with some introspective work with a coach instead.


Liz Copeland helps people through change, particularly the difficult or heart-rending or ‘I’ve never done this before’ type of change. She shows executives, partners and top people how to find their way through major or catastrophic change. You can find her at


1 Comment

One thought on “Planning to make a big change? How to get the support of others when you need it most”

  1. Very interesting subject , regards for posting.

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