It’s been 4 years since we started to seriously think about selling up and going cruising. It’s been a year since we bought Hapai and 6 months since we got official live aboard status. While the set-sail date in May marks a major milestone in our journey, so much change has already happened in getting to this point.

We sold our long-time family home, we restructured businesses and we updated our wills. We embarked on a major learning curve and both of us have taken courses on a bunch of different things. There’s been a year or two of ‘firsts’, as we’ve been preparing the boat and preparing ourselves.

While the journey itself is hugely exciting, and I’m looking forward to whatever comes our way, even good change can be unsettling. Here’s what I’ve learned about keeping calm in times of change:

DON’T think too far ahead.

If you are working towards a big change, it can often feel completely overwhelming. So, it’s useful to remember that any big change is just a series of small changes happening over time. When we decided to take the plunge we made a list of all the things we needed to work through, set a few guiding dates, and then just focused on one task at a time. By only focusing on the next logical step, the process felt far more manageable.

DON’T worry about things that might not happen.

Throughout this journey there have been lots of variables and it was easy to get caught up in the what-ifs. I quickly learned that if I started to worry about things that might not happen, all the other stuff started spiraling out of control too. I know it’s easier said than done, but don’t start worrying about something until you need to. Just focus on getting through today and then worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

DON’T take on unnecessary change.

Working through a big change can be mentally and emotionally exhausting, so don’t add to the challenge by adding unnecessary extras. Now is not the time to start a new diet, buy a new house, or get a new job (unless that’s the big change, of course). Work through the changes you need to right now and save all the other life changes until you’re out the other side.

DO expect to adapt.

Throughout this process I’ve been reminded that there is very little we have control over. We could market our house, but we had no control over whether someone bought it. We could re-structure our business, but we had no control over whether our team bought into the changes. We could look for the perfect boat, but there was no guarantee we would find one in our budget.

Accepting that our plan may not roll out the way we hoped, was a huge part of staying calm throughout the process. When things didn’t go as expected, we simply took a deep breath and worked out another way through. If you waste energy getting caught up in how things should happen, you fail to see all the ways they could happen. Often Plan B (or in our case Plan G) is so much better anyway.

DO keep communicating.

We have had literally hundreds of things to do before sail date and Rob and I naturally took on different responsibilities. With so many balls in the air, sometimes either he or I would forget to keep the other up-to-date. I recognised early on that if I couldn’t see the whole picture I would get unnecessarily anxious about things, so it was important we kept communicating every step of the way. For us it helped to have regular ‘boat meetings’, just to make sure that nothing was forgotten.

DO talk to an outsider.

When you’re in the middle of change it can sometimes be hard to keep things in perspective. Talking to someone outside of your situation can often bring a different point of view and an outsider will often see solutions to issues that are causing you stress. Having a chance to download with someone who is not emotionally invested can be great therapy.

DO trust it will all work out.

In the movie ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’, Patel, the Hotel Manager says “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it is not yet the end.” That kind of thinking reminds us that life rarely happens in a straight line. What might seem like a disaster, can actually be a blessing in disguise. Something that seems like a detour, may actually be putting us on the right track. Make a conscious decision to trust that it will all work out in the end.

As a Christian, I took great comfort in the scripture from Romans 8: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” When things felt like they were going off track or taking too long to work through, I reminded myself that it was all part of the plan.

Change can be scary, but ultimately it gives us a chance to learn, develop, grow and discover. All the great things happen outside of your comfort zone.