How do we know when it’s time? Time to make a move. Time to launch a new project. Time to change jobs. Time to start a new business, birth a vision, initiate a relationship, have a child, go to college or take a sabbatical.

Many times in my life I’ve been faced with an almost overwhelming feeling of stagnation, and that somehow, some way, things needed to change—and change radically.

I felt that way when I was 20. I had a good paying job, but the job was very stressful and didn’t offer much of a future. So I decided to relocate and go to college, and that proved to be a good decision. It was sad leaving behind friendships and the city and area I had grown up in, but more strongly than the tug of familiarity was the need to disentangle myself with all I had known, and what resulted was a significant phase of personal growth and healing.

Just three years later I was married, still in college and playing guitar in a rock band, and six years after that, a feeling for the need to change came again. Another relocation to Los Angeles resulted and a shift in career direction. Twelve years later I was making good money again and doing interesting work, but again stressed out and feeling completely stagnant. It took two more years after the feeling came before I was able to affect the next and most radical change of my life; leaving behind a marriage of nineteen years, a job of eleven years, and moving from Los Angeles to Asheville North Carolina.

How do we know when it’s time? In my case it comes from paying attention to the signs and being present with how I’m feeling about them.

What came within a year and four months was that I met my present wife and partner Maria, and after just four months I asked her to marry me. Together with a loving and harmonious marriage I also inherited three teenagers in the package. Then another two years after that I left my corporate job and started Balanced Is.

Now eight years after leaving my life in California behind, almost seven years since asking Maria to marry me, and five years from the launch of Balanced Is, Maria and I both have been processing a very strong need for radical change in our lives. Within a two and half week span of time, the last two of our now young adult children left home and moved across the country. Our beloved feline of many years has just about reached the end of her life, our landlord wants to sell our home, and doors are closing in some areas of our lives while opening in others.

How do we know when it’s time? In my case it comes from paying attention to the signs and being present with how I’m feeling about them. If I see the signs and I feel stagnation and uneasiness with my life, coupled with the fear of change, most likely it’s time for change. If I’m feeling like I want change, and the feeling is more like a desire to run, than most likely the place I need to be is right where I am, facing the fear of what it is I want to run from.

In either case there is fear. Fear of change, or, fear of staying where we are and facing the music. If we can discern the difference then we’ll know when it’s time.

In my present life stage, the fear I feel is the normal and anticipated fear of radical change. What I know in my bones is that now is the time. What I’m afraid of is change. What I’m doing is being with the fear and initiating the change.

What change you might ask? Stay tuned for more on that in a subsequent blog. In the meantime, can you discern the gentle pull toward familiarity, from the nagging feeling that change is needed? And, can you discern the fear of change from the fear of staying right where you are? I’d love to hear your change stories in the comments.