Manage Sudden Change — Ideas for Responding to the Unexpected

Curiosity helps reframe challenges.

How to manage sudden change is a challenge that’s much on people’s minds these days as the world struggles to manage Covid-19.

I recently had a very timely question from a reader.

It wasn’t specifically about the coronavirus. But it was spot on about how to manage sudden change when it visits your life.

So read on for my response, and please feel invited to join the discussion.

How do I manage sudden change?

Here’s the recent question about dealing with sudden change. It came from Melissa in New Haven:

Dear Paula,

I could use some help for a sudden change that my family is dealing with. My partner’s company is relocating to St. Louis and he’s been asked to move to help set things up.

He is our main breadwinner and there’s no question about his refusing to do this. But I have never dealt with a move like this and we have two children in school, and they hate the idea.

My head is spinning and I can’t seem to get any traction in terms of what I need to do. I’ve lost my appetite and I can’t think or sleep, AND everyone is counting on me to figure this out. Can you please give me some ideas for making this work for us?

Thanks so much.


Here’s my response…

Hi Melissa,

You certainly have a lot on your plate. It’s vital that you take care of yourself, for starters. In order to manage sudden change, you need access to your fullest capacities. This is true no matter what the actual change is. So, this is your main job — to be as present as you can be to what is happening.

So, here are some ideas to help you with that, as you navigate this challenging time:

  • The first thing I would suggest is to stop and find a comfortable place to sit, perhaps in a favorite room. Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Make sure you are breathing deeply and from your belly.
  • Next, create an affirmation that you can take with you at all times. For example, “I’ll get through this one minute at a time,” or “Step by step will get me there.” Use this as a mantra and a guide.  Also, don’t be shy about changing it as things evolve.  You can adapt your tools to your needs at each stage.
  • Be creative about options, and flexible. Family members may be unsettled for a while. So it may help to relax your expectations a bit until new routines can be established.
  • Concretize everything in writing, including an ongoing list to record ideas and tasks as they come to you. That frees up your mind for dealing with immediate challenges or tasks. Focus on one thing at a time. Validate even the smallest successes.  This is key.
  • Delegate tasks and ask for help. Engage your children in age-appropriate activities. That helps them develop understanding and ownership of the move.

I hope you find this helpful.

Best of luck to you. I’ll be thinking about you as your move unfolds.


How do you manage sudden change?

What kinds of sudden changes have you had in your life? 

How did you cope? 

What one thing will help you right now?

For more help…

Change is a fact of life, but do you sometimes feel like it’s coming at you too fast? Or does it pop up unexpectedly and throw all your plans awry? Well, I’d like to share a time tool that helps. no matter what kind of change you’re dealing with.

It’s titled How to Partner with Change and Aging, and to discover more about it right now, just click here:

Let’s explore time together…

Speak Your Mind