This week I spoke to a friend who lost all her possessions in the California fires. A colleague, Brent Osborne, decided to pack up and move to Atlanta. (His employer in California is a supporter of remote work). A lifelong New Yorker, I moved into a new apartment and workspace in Arizona--a state where I know no one except my 91-year old mother (who is two hours away).

Ranging in age from our twenties to our sixties, we have one thing in common--starting from scratch. Sometimes it happens by choice. Sometimes by necessity.

Change agents at work lead companies to innovation and prosperity. But how do you become a change agent of your own life and career? Sure you can find little life hacks that lead to happiness. But making the major changes--wiping the hard drive clean as it were--is much more challenging and scary.

Boomers' lives today are being disrupted by the digital economy and changes in their jobs and companies. Artificial intelligence will change millions of people's lives. Millennials have grown up loving technology but it may ultimately displace them in their careers.

As the Navy Seals like to say, "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable."

If you decide that baby steps will not lead you to where you want to go long-term, be bold and reboot.

  1. Pinpoint the source of what's not working. Is it your job, industry, environment, or other factor? Make sure you're not simply running away from a situation, but moving methodically towards something better. Says Osborne, "I've reached a point in my life where I feel like where I am is simply no longer where I'm supposed to be. After all, we can't become what we need to be by remaining where we are."
  2. Be honest with yourself about what's keeping you from change. You can list lots of reasons why staying and clinging are better than jumping and letting go. Working with a coach or trusted devil's advocate can help you separate the real obstacles to change from the rationalization.
  3. Inspire yourself with stories of people who have reinvented themselves at all stages of their lives. Read about them and speak to people who have done it. Ask for help when you need it.
  4. Be ready to feel lost and confused some of the time. Says Veronica James, "It's only been a little over a week since our lives have been erased by fire. I'm just starting to ask myself, 'How do I start over without a single tangible link to my past?'" When you have a phone glitch or other technical fail, rebuilding your files and contact list takes time. You'll need to do the same thing with your life after you make a major move or suffer an unexpected loss. Your brain and body will also react to change. Fast Company advises people going through major changes to "take care of their bodies first." Sleep, for example, is essential in helping the brain to function well in times of sudden stress.
  5. Don't give up. Saying, "This was a horrible mistake" or "Why me?" (in the case of an unplanned reboot) is easy to do. But hang in there and be prepared to reboot/reinvent again if what you've chosen isn't working for you.

Change gets easier the more you make it.