Have you ever felt challenged when making a big or small change in your life? If so, did you encounter periods of doubt, stress, frustration, or overwhelm? Many experiences around change include discomfort at some point in the journey. After all, if we’re lucky, growth and insight happen along the change path. And usually, those don’t occur without some struggle.
In the latter part of last year, I embarked on a new project to combine and redesign my two websites into one. It wasn’t the first time I had done this type of project, so I knew it was accomplishable. In the end, while I am thrilled with how the new ohsoorganized.com site looks and feels, going through the change process had its challenges. Now that I’m on the other side of it and have had time to reflect, I thought it seemed like a good time to share what I learned about going through change. Maybe you are making a change in your life. If so, I hope that something here will resonate and be helpful to you.
1. Gather Your Team You can make changes on your own, but I learned that creating a support team enhanced my experience. When you seek something different, you can significantly benefit from the expertise and wisdom of others. For the website project, I worked with the talented web designer, Tanya Moushi, who specializes in creating Squarespace websites. She clarified the project phases, explained what was or wasn't viable, and led me through the design phase to the launch of the new site. A while back, I hired the marvelous Word Press web designer, Janet Barclay, to evaluate my websites. While Janet didn’t directly work on my redesign project since she only does Word Press sites, the evaluations Janet did were useful guides as I considered the changes I wanted for my new website. Just as essential to my team were family, friends, clients, and colleagues. They helped me notice the things I overlooked, provided sanity checks, and gave me moral support during times of doubt. 2. Expect Some Mess During a conversation with Tanya in the early design phase, I expressed some frustration with how that process was going. I wasn’t happy with the initial color and mood board. She gently said that the “Creative process is very messy.” I loved that reminder because while I knew it was accurate, I had forgotten it at that moment. This is similar to what my organizing clients experience. When we are organizing a space, it often looks worse before it improves. If they feel discouraged, I remind them that things get messier before they get better. And clearly, that goes for redesigning websites too. I remembered other design projects I’ve done, like designing my book, creating previous websites, or redesigning my logo. There was always trial and error. These are not one-and-done processes. What I appreciated about Tanya was that she hung in there and experimented with me until we got the colors, images, fonts, layouts, and functionality working as I wanted. And yes. It was messy. But from the experimentation and chaos, we created something beautiful and functional. 3. Adjust Expectations Projects won’t always go as planned. When I received the initial proposal for the website redesign, the timeline showed slightly less than a one-month turnaround from design to final launch. The schedule included three phases. There was technical (like transferring domain name and importing files,) design (such as gathering design inspiration and building a preview site,) and quality assurance (as in back end training and going live.) The phases took longer than anticipated. The elapsed time was over four months. Like most projects, unexpected things came up. So as the deadlines changed, Tanya and I discussed them, course-corrected, and readjusted the expectations. This was critical. In the end, the timing worked out great because I launched the site as the year and decade changed. So even though that hadn’t been the original plan, it ended up being a terrific outcome timing-wise. 4. Work Those Lists It helped me to have several lists for a redesign project of this magnitude. There were the updated password lists, things to discuss with Tanya lists, design comments and idea lists, site review lists, how to work the back end lists, and, ultimately, the final punch list. The lists kept me on track and also provided places to record thoughts and ideas in an organized way. It was Tanya’s idea to upload the punch list to Google docs so that we could discuss and cross off items as completed. It was a collaborative way of communicating, which worked out beautifully. I remember when that last item was crossed off. It indicated to me that things were completed and it was time to embrace the change fully. 5. Be Patient With Learning One of the issues that had prevented me from redesigning sooner was knowing that I needed time to invest in learning a new platform. I migrated my sites from Squarespace 5, which I knew how to navigate, to Squarespace 7, which has an entirely different back end. I had confidence that I could learn it, but I didn’t know how much time it would take me. Tanya did several walkthroughs with me and also created a few how-to videos for making edits and creating blog posts. Also, Squarespace has excellent tutorials and customer support. It was awkward at first but got more comfortable with each edit. The upside is that I love learning. Having to add a new set of skills to my toolbox has been one of the fun surprises of this process. 6. Acknowledge Loss While the website redesign was needed and desired, I was surprised by some feelings of loss that I experienced. The othersideoforganized.com site, which no longer exists, was created when I wrote my book ten years ago. I started blogging on that site and enjoyed many wonderful conversations with my readers. It was a familiar and happy place to visit and converse. The previous ohsoorganized.com site was redesigned in 2011 from the original site that launched in 2001. Even though with the website change, I was gaining many positives like being mobile-friendly, moving to the updated Squarespace 7 platform, and having a more modern design, I liked what I had. It worked. However, due to technical issues and an old platform, it was time to change. I knew that. Even so, part of me wanted to hold on to what was comfortable and familiar. During the process, even though I was pushing myself to be open to new possibilities, I also recognized that I was digging in and trying to hold on to what I had. Acknowledging and noticing these feelings of loss during growth and change was helpful. I could see, feel, and appreciate them. And then I let go so that I could embrace the new. 7. Appreciate the Blooms The big website change has happened, and I am thankful. After months of designing, technical maneuvering, and collaborating, the new ohsoorganized.com launched at the beginning of the year. Below you can view the welcome-to-the-new-site video. It took a combined effort to get the website to this stage. I’m so happy with the look, feel, and content. But more importantly, it is getting the results I hoped for. People are engaging, taking action, and feeling inspired. Within 24 hours of the launch, a new client hired me because of how the site made her feel- welcomed and understood. After watching one of my videos and reading a few of my posts, another new client was inspired to take action. She organized a corner of a room that had been bothering her for a long time. Feedback has been positive from colleagues, clients, family, friends, and strangers. The theothersideoforganized.com blog community quickly found their new home at ohsoorganized.com/blog. The group continues to thrive as they generously share and engage in our wonderful conversations about organizing, life balance, mindfulness, letting go, motivation, change, and more. I am grateful for what was, what is, and what will be.
What has helped you navigate change? What change is currently engaging your time? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and join the conversation!
Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®, CVPO™,is a compassionate, enthusiastic Professional Organizer and Coach, founder of Oh, So Organized!, Executive Mom Nest Advisor, author of The Other Side of Organized, and blogger on organizing and life balance. In addition to organizing virtually with clients worldwide, Linda presents workshops, writes, and mentors other Professional Organizers. Media features include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, HuffPost, Woman’s Day, Westchester Magazine, Everyday with Rachel Ray, and Entrepreneur.com.Linda lives with her husband between two rivers 30 miles north of New York City, in a small, colorful home with a purple front door. They are empty-nesters as their children are in the world living their adult lives.