1 Week Till Blast Off: How to Prepare for a Big Life Change
Photo courtesy of Jessica F.

1 Week Till Blast Off: How to Prepare for a Big Life Change

Written by Emilie

Topics: Portland

In one week I’ll be moving from Montreal, Quebec to Portland, Oregon.

Upon arrival, I’ll be joining several of you geniuses at #WDS. The summit will be followed up by a week of creative meetings and some good old fashion apartment hunting.

After that, my focus will be on writing and launching my book, finishing up the pilot script (we just got our first pitch meeting!) and developing some projects that have been marinating in my brain (and in a Word doc) for some time now.

The Last 5 Months

The last five months have been an incredible whirlwind. I arrived home from Europe, tired and homesick after my semester abroad. Law school was finally over and I was more than ready to close that chapter of my life. I had already moved on in my heart.

But more than anything, I was hungry; hungry for a life that I saw with increasing clarity. Multipotentiality was my calling and I was ready to do whatever it took to make it work.

Like many of you, I began this year by setting some lofty goals.

Then I worked and worked and worked. Sometimes I worked too hard. But I loved it. It felt urgent. It felt important. It still feels this way.

Before Making Your Break

Here are some tips I’ve collected on closing one chapter of your life and stepping into another. Some of these are specific to moving/traveling and others can be applied to personal transitions of all sorts.

1. Create a Time-Limited Window of Cushy Time

Whether this means staying at your day job while building up a side hustle or moving back in with your family while you put some cash aside to fund your next adventure, staying put for a little while isn’t such a bad idea.

The key is having a set end point. Tell yourself, as soon as I have X amount saved up or I have X number of clients in my side business, I’m outta here. Determine this end point in advance and stick to it.

Know that when you reach your end point, you’ll start doubting yourself. Your body hates change. It will do everything it can to convince you that security, even if accompanied by mild discomfort and boredom is smarter than following your heart. I’ll tell you what: nothing is more important than following your heart. Nothing.

2. Spend Quality Time with Your Peep

One of the best things about moving back home has been reconnecting with my family and friends. I know the new adventures will be fun and all, but it’s moments like these that matter most. Cherish the awesome folk and give thanks to the universe for their presence in your life.

Similarly, don’t waste time hanging out with people who aren’t super important to you. Cut out the toxic friends and be insanely selective with your time.

3. Pack What You Love

My favourite renegade expat gave me this advice. You can’t replace your favourite sweater but you can always buy more socks.

This advice flies in the face of a lot of minimalist teachings. Most minimalists tend to say: pack only the essentials, only what you need.

Minimalism also stresses the idea of detaching yourself from sentimental items. I disagree with this whole notion. I don’t think you need to throw things away to prevent them from controlling your present. You just need to learn not to let them control your present.

I’ve tried to escape my past before. I did it when I ran off to Denmark. It didn’t work. My subconscious began flooding my head with memories, long forgotten, from childhood. I also became horribly homesick and needed my comfort items. Once I had my My So-Called Life DVD collection shipped over, I felt much better. :)

4. Leave Yourself a Few Days Before You Move

I’ve been working like crazy these last few months. It’s been a blast and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. However, the last 6 weeks have been a little… intense. I’ve been hustling like crazy to finish up two major websites, among other things.

Rebecca gave me some good advice here as well. She told me that you should always leave a few days between your work deadline and when you leave.

First of all, there’s a good chance that some loose ends will need to be tied up post-deadline anyway. And secondly, if you do miraculously end up with a few days of freedom, well then yatzee. That’s more time for #2.

The 1 Week Countdown

Alright, so I have 1 week to go. I’ll be finishing my major work in the next couple days and I’ve got dates set up with my close friends. Right now I’m in Vermont with my dad and brother, enjoying our time together. I’ve also already decided which items of affection are coming and which pairs of socks are staying.

I’m feeling pretty good about the way I’m leaving things in Montreal. I feel like these last few months were just what I needed to reconnect with my roots and start setting my plans in motion for the future. And these plans? They’re big. Keep an eye on Puttylike this summer, cause I’ll be taking things to a HNL!

Your Turn

How do you prepare for big life changes? Share your tips in the comments.


  1. Harrison says:

    Good luck with your move to Portland, OR. These are all wonderful tips, as I myself will be moving to Minneapolis to embark on a new journey.

  2. Janet says:

    Wow good luck in your move and glad to see you staying in p-town after WDS settles down! Jealous that I’m not going to be there.. :) Raised in Portland suburbs and really love the vibe there.. Miss it at times and love this awesome blog hub I see in Portland!! In honor of not being at WDS, I think I’d like to feature a post of all Portland-y bloggers I admire, including transplants. I’m happy that I now get to include you! :D

    • Emilie says:

      Aw that’s so sweet, I’d be honoured to be included. There are some fine bloggers living out there in Portlandia!

      Yeah I guess #WDS is a bit far from where you are now. But you know, I have this feeling that a lot of the workshops are going to end up online… So you’ll at least get to catch some of those.

      Thanks for the comment and encouragement, Janet. :)

  3. Rob says:

    Can’t wait to hear about this move. I’m so excited for you (and ridiculously jealous at the same time). Please do post pics of the apartment you find, and I’m looking forward to hearing of your stories of mingling with the Portland Bloggers :)

  4. Morgan says:

    I am sooo jealous of your move to Portland! I miss Oregon, and I know you know that you’ll love it. It’s such a great town with a lot of awesome people and places. :)

    Looking forward to hearing about your move and the new experience!

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Morgan. I’m looking forward to sharing my adventures with you as well. :)

      Hey, I’m liking your eBook Voice idea! Very nice.

  5. Cotton Candy says:

    Great tips Emilie! Good luck with the move & all your plans! I also would love to live in Portland. Maybe you can post a How to Move to Portland guide for us aspiring Portlanders. ^_^

    • Emilie says:

      Heh that’s not a bad idea! I’ll take notes and see what I can put together.

      Apparently Ev Bogue’s old blog started out as a “how to survive in Portland with very little money” guide, but he deleted it so… There might be room there for a new one.

      And thanks! :)

  6. Seth says:

    I’m happy to see you’re moving to Portland. It’s a wonderful city filled with wonderful people.

    Before I make a big change, especially for travel, I make my rounds and visit family and friends, especially those I’ve not seen in awhile.

    • Emilie says:

      Definitely. When I moved to Denmark, I even went around the city and said goodbye to various neighbourhoods, remembering the times in my life when I hung out there, etc. It was pretty nice.

      Don’t have quite such a big need to do it this time around, I guess because Denmark felt so far. Making the family/friends round is important though.

      Thanks for the comment Seth. You’re going to #WDS, yes?

  7. Transitions are HUGE no matter what size they are. So much energy goes into them. If we can master that one thing — transitions — we will improve our experience of projects, of relationships — of life — radically.

    Your post is so helpful on many levels. And I know you’re going to get the most out of your big move, because you are so aware.

    I think that’s what attention to transitions does: it helps us get more out of the experience.

    Great luck!

    • Emilie says:

      Thank you, Peter.

      Your right, transitions are often what we end up remembering most vividly about an experience. They’re also fantastic opportunities for reflection. I even love the experience of just being in transition, at the airport, etc. It’s a nice break from routine, and the future always feels so exciting and full of promise.

      Thanks for your thoughts. :)

  8. Annie says:

    Having just nearly committed to traveling to the far ends of Japan over a period of 4 months during 2012, I have to say this article was of huge use to me.

    I can only anticipate the anxiety that is going to set in once I realize “Shit. I’m actually doing this.”

    When it comes to traveling in general though, I find that a loss of motivation also comes right before a big trip. While there is a lot of packing to do, you will inevitably have moments where you’re just waiting for the trip to come.

    This is true for a lot of other things in life, too–you get so focused on the future that you have trouble living in the present.

    So I guess my advice would be to have something good to do in the precious moments before your trip. I’m partial to video games–I always buy them intending to open them on the plane ride, but I end up opening them the night before when the pre-travel lull sets in.

    Also, super excited that you’re taking part in this project. It gives me hope for a potential project that could be in my future, and for my dreams of Japan. Good luck!

    • Emilie says:

      That’s a great idea, Annie. I guess for me, I have so many interests that have literally been waiting in the wings, that I wouldn’t need to look very far for something fun to do. Honestly, I’ve got long lists, it’s a little ridiculous. :)

      I just bought a few new books though, so maybe I’ll dive in once I hit that “just waiting” point. I’m almost there.

      And that’s so exciting about Japan! I can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

  9. Abe says:

    I can’t wait to finally meet you in person, podcast partner for half a year! I tell you this all the time in emails and whatnot, but I’m really proud of you for walking the walk (flying the fly?).

    And thanks for explaining HNL! You’re about to take it to a…




    • Emilie says:

      Whoa… Just reading that felt weird. It’s like I forgot that we haven’t actually met in person!… Like how is that possible?

      I’m mega proud of you as well, Abe. Can’t wait to watch you blow up over the upcoming months.

      HNL buddy, HNL.

  10. Benny says:

    Good luck on your move!! Sounds very exciting. Will keep coming back to check up on your progress!

  11. Holli says:

    Super exciting, and cool that you get to share this evolution/growth with your puttytribe:)

    I am sure you’ll enjoy Portland, and land in a great place.

    This post is really useful. The only thing I’d add is a day or half day to just be by yourself before a big change. I think it depends on the type of person you are, but I have naturally found myself seeking some solitude time for every big change: getting married, child birth, moving to a new state, etc.

    Best wishes, and hope to see you in person at #WDS!

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Holli,

      That makes a lot of sense. I tend to spend a lot of time on my own/in my head anyway, so I don’t think I’ll need to schedule out some specific time. I might take a bit of a digital sabbatical though… Well actually that’s unlikely. Heh. But maybe half a day, yea. :)

      Looking forward to meeting you in Portland!

  12. Rami says:


    I want you to know that when you go, you’ll be taking a piece of me with you. Thanks for helping me follow my dreams!

    And I see only success in your pursuit of your own dreams. Keep on being awesome!

    • Emilie says:

      Rami! You’re such an inspiration to me as well. Lets keep dream-chasing, partner.

      Tuesday night writing sessions shall continue via Skype!


  13. Amazing story. We can’t wait to have you in PDX! But fortunately, it sounds like we won’t have to wait long.

  14. Mark Powers says:

    So excited to have you coming to Portland, Emilie- see you super soon!

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