Home Control Center Embrace Change
The Control Center

Debbie Millman’s Note to Self: Embrace Change

There is something rather formidable and spectacular about how random life can be and the momentous speed at which things can change — whether you are ready for those changes or not.

Embracing change is scary – like going on an interview for your dream job and inviting a stranger to critique and probe your life’s work. You know that this can lead to broadened opportunity, but you can’t help but steep in the uncomfortability of this particular moment in time. When you prepare yourself for change, it’s really just an exercise to keep you distracted from anxiety about the uncertain – you’ll soon see that you can never be truly prepared.

Photo of Debbie Millman at her desk
When you’re focused on the road in front of you, it can be difficult to recognize how far you’ve come and the valuable lessons learned along the way. As the premium car rental brand for road warriors, National wants to help business travelers fuel their journey ahead. The ‘Note to Self’ articles feature stories of road warriors who’ve “made it,” as they share the advice they would give to their younger selves.

Do you remember the day after you knew your marriage was over? You were simultaneously shocked and heartbroken. You may not see it now, in this very painful moment, but, trust me: in the end, it will have been the right road to take. There might be times when you can’t imagine a way out of the sorrow and anguish, the sense of failure and doom. However, keep pushing forward. You’ll see that it was a necessary and life-defining change.

Soon after, as you continue on your path as a designer, you’ll come to the realization that even painful moments like this are part of the design of life. It might start with a questionable choice and a wrong turn, but then suddenly what is in front of you is perfect, and seems like it was meant to be. In retrospect, everything leading to this outcome will seem perfect and pre-designed.

When you’re in the midst of a transformation, it will be hard to accept this concept. Just know that love will come around again, and in the early thrill of it, all you will feel is that this is just too wondrous to be anything but “meant to be.” And then you will continue discovering new roads that take you on all sorts of winding, circuitous routes that you never could’ve imagined.

Ultimately, you’ll learn that it is all about patience and perspective. This might sound clichéd and easy, but believe me, it is real and this context will ground your reality in the years to come.

This is what you’ll find life is: a series of mistakes, chance encounters and curious experiences that shape us, scar us, tease us and give us hope, joy and tears. Everything we do, everything we touch and everything we design can move us, inform us and transform what is ahead. No matter how bleak a situation or the world might seem—it does offer opportunities and optimism

It will be hard, but try and embrace change. Pursue your passion with intent and a willingness to design both your work and the experiences and challenges you come across and try—if only in small steps—to believe in your own solutions.