Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg married his college sweetheart, Priscilla Chan, over the weekend. The couple has been together for ages, so the nuptials were a surprise only in their timing: they happened one day after Facebook’s initial public offering (perhaps you heard about that …), and less than a week after Chan graduated from medical school, which was on the same day as Zuckerberg’s 28th birthday.
Let’s just say it was a busy week for everyone’s favorite hoodie wearing billionaire.
Guests at the wedding, by the way, thought they were showing up for a surprise graduation party for Chan.
So here’s the question: when it comes to big life events, is it better to take the Zuckerberg Approach (plan them all at once), or ease into changes slowly, letting yourself adjust to one shift before tackling another? Pros vs. Cons to follow.
PROS – Bring On the Changes
When Cliff and I finished the Peace Corps in 2006, we took a few weeks to travel the globe. Then we resettled in Chicago, and within six weeks time we bought a car, found an apartment, filled the apartment with stuff (mostly via Craigslist – as you may recall from this revealing post), Cliff had major surgery, and we both started new jobs. All this while readjusting to the breadth and pace of Chicago after living for two years on a 10 mile wide tropical island.
Yeah. It was a bit challenging. But we made it.
When it comes to big life changes, I say rip the bandage off. If you feel certain about who you’re making changes the changes with (i.e., your spouse), then you’re going to survive whatever comes at you. So quit your job on the day your baby is born. Move the family three states over right before your first child starts kindergarten. Paint the kitchen the same week you buy a car. You’ll manage.
If the status quo is going to be completely upset by one change, why not get all the changes done at once, then establish the new status quo. Right?
CONS – Ease Into Change
When Sam (our oldest) was born, many of my colleagues and a few of my friends wondered if I should consider quitting my job. “Aren’t you going to miss being home with him, when you go back after maternity leave?” they asked. And sure, sometimes I wondered that too. But I also knew I really liked working. Making the decision to stay home would still be an option at the end of maternity leave. Going back to work wouldn’t be, if I quit before Sam was even born.
As it turns out, I’m exceedingly glad I didn’t quit. By nine weeks into maternity leave with Sam, I was begging the phone to ring with a call from a colleague. I was checking my email account multiple times a day, just in case there was something work-related I could reply to. I was mapping out new projects mentally, desperate for a little work to do.
If I’d jumped into two big changes at once (having a child and quitting my job), I’d have rushed into a choice that wouldn’t have served our family well. When it comes to big life changes, I say ease into them.
So What Does This Mean?
It means that you, like Zuckerberg and Chan, know best about what’s going to work for you, at any given crossroads. Your priorities, your values, your life circumstances, your personalities … all those things are giving you clues about whether this is a “rip off the band-aid” time for mass change, or if it will be better to make a slow transition to one new thing before moving to the next.
Plus, if you just made a few hundred billion off the company you built in your dorm room, I suppose you can do whatever the heck you want.