Thursday, February 20, 2020

Try It On For Size

Once you’ve taken the time to examine your life and to determine what aspects you want to keep, what to alter, and what to totally eliminate to create a life that is more authentic, more what you want and can be most productive in, you might feeling discouraged or even apprehensive.

As you look at your blueprint, what you want may seem impractical or even impossible. Maybe you’re simply not sure the steps you need to take — and can take — are the right ones, and you don’t want to burn any bridges. 

That’s completely understandable. And there’s a solution to your dilemma, a way to find out if a proposed change is right for you. 

The majority of changes people contemplate can be tried on for size. Some may take a little ingenuity, but every proposed change people have ever shared with me has been doable on a smaller scale or on a trial basis.
If you dream of selling your 4-bedroom, 3-bath home and moving into a tiny house now that the kids have moved out, for example, you can easily try the tiny-house lifestyle without selling your current home and making such a drastic move. 

If, for example, you are absolutely sure you want to downsize but just aren’t sure a tiny house will be big enough, experiment a bit before you list your home. Determine a square footage you’re comfortable with as a starting place. Measure a space that size within your existing home and mark it off with electrical tape (on the floor). Put everything you plan to sell or give away in a bedroom, the basement, or the garage, and move everything you want to keep in the space you’ve marked off as your new living space. Live in that space for 30 days — or more — to see if it’s doable. If you find that the area you’ve marked off to live in is more than adequate, adjust the tape to make it smaller and try for another 30 days. 

If you find that at this point in your life you can’t live within the square footage of a tiny house, you at least know how small you can live in comfortably. List the large house and look for either a smaller home or an apartment that is as close as possible to the size you were most comfortable in as you experimented. Who knows? Maybe after living in a 2-bedroom apartment for a year, you will find that you’re ready to go even smaller. Experiment again and see if that’s the case.

You may not want to use electrical tape to create imaginary smaller rooms or move to a smaller space, only to move again into a tiny home at a later date. You can always rent a tiny house and live in it on your next vacation.

Do you dream of retiring in 2 years to travel around the country in an RV? You can try out that lifestyle by renting an RV on weekends and on vacation and taking mini-trips. If boats are more your style, rent a houseboat for a weekend or several weeks at a time. 

What if you dream of quitting your stressful corporate job and developing a home business? Unless you have a really large nest-egg to live on until the home business produces the income you need, it’s probably not feasible to leave your current job. But you can “try on” being a small business owner. Determine the type of home business you’d like to develop and get started, working the new job an hour or two every evening and on weekends. At the same time, put as much of your income as possible into paying off any debt you have and squirrel it away for a cushion when you do quit your day job. Sell off any unwanted items sitting around the house and put that money into that account as well. 

Or perhaps you simply want to change careers. Consider what you’d rather be doing and look for either a part-time job or a way to volunteer in that field. A former colleague was, after 15 years on the job, unhappy in her job as a high school secretary. She began volunteering several hours of week at her local public library; 7 months later, she applied for and was hired as an assistant librarian in the reference department. She’s currently taking online classes to earn her library science degree and hopes one day to be a head librarian. 

Another friend is planning to retire January 1, 2021. She has always dreamed of working with children in underdeveloped countries. She has completed the application and screening process of a well-respected volunteer organization that utilizes adults of all ages in its program, and she will be using her 3-week vacation this summer to volunteer as an English-language teacher to children overseas. She shared with me that if this experience goes well, she will apply for a short-term assignment that begins right after her retirement.

These are just a few possible changes and a few ways to try them on for size before making a commitment. 

Look at your blueprint for life redesign. For each change that is perhaps a bit bigger than you’re comfortable making all at once or that involves something totally new to you or that you’d like to try out first, make.a list of ways you can do that and then try out one of them and go from there.

Trying on something for size is a great way to see if a proposed life change is the right one for you.

I’d love to hear about how you’re going to try on a life change or about your experience doing so! Please share via a comment. And if you can’t think of a way to experiment with something on your life redesign blueprint, please share. Perhaps someone in the community has an idea or two that might work for you.


  1. Patti:
    These are really good ideas to “test the water” before making that leap into the unknown. I love how you’re willing to make major changes to your life whereas so many people WANT to make a change and feel “stuck” but are too afraid of the unknown to make the leap.
    In our particular situation, back in 1999 I was working in SoCal in corporate America getting increasingly frustrated and unhappy with “climbing the ladder”. I had dreamed about, read about and studied being an entrepreneur since college and felt that, turning 40, it was now or never. My mindset was that I don’t want to wake up at 60 and wonder “what if I had tried pursuing my dream?”. I always said that I would rather try and fail than not even try. At least with failure there is growth, and no regret because of not trying.
    Anyway with much prayer for guidance and faith to “jump”, and with a one year old and a pregnant wife, we quit a management job with Sony Corporation, said goodbye to salary, a matching 401k, great health plan, etc. and spent 6 months looking at small businesses to purchase. In the words of Frost, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.” It was the best decision we’ve every made.
    The second “leap of faith” was uprooting our now young family of six, and our business and all equipment, plus a key employee and his family, to move from SoCal to Tennessee in 2005. We knew now one in the area but with much prayer and faith, took the leap and have gone from 3 employees to as many as 30 employees depending on the season. This is certainly not to toot our own horns but to offer two other key components that I know you are very familiar with:
    1. Make sure you are talking constantly with God about your plans and seek His guidance in any life plan change.
    2. At some point, as Steve Harvey says, “ Ya got ta jump”. Planning is so important but at some point you’ve got to go for it.
    We have been blessed beyond belief after making the above two changes. It was terrifying at times but we jumped.
    Thanks for your excellent blog Patti and thanks for being someone who tested the waters and then jumped.
    - Stuart Bahn

  2. Stuart, I so agree with you that we should be constantly talking with God as we make plans and implement them. And I love the Steve Harvey quote. :) Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Your story is such a reminder of the importance of being true to your values and to yourself, stepping out in faith to make changes, etc.