A few months ago, my husband was offered a challenging new position and relocation to Denver, CO after a merger with the organization he has worked with for over 17 years.
That said, I have spent a significant amount of time telling others how they should embrace change. But, I wasn’t feeling that way when faced with a move across the country. As a native Floridian, I had escaped snow and ice my entire life. Now, at 40, I was being challenged to accept a change that would move me away from my family and cause me to cut ties as an adjunct instructor at HCC. Life as an adjunct instructor had no doubt been a highlight of the last decade. And, having our family close by helped out tremendously with our kids and busy work schedules. My initial reaction to this change was not positive at all.
But, as I sit here with packers carefully wrapping up my life and a final flight leaving for CO on Monday, I can say I’ve learned a few things worth sharing:
1. Change is actually really hard. I had to consciously and continuously push through and keep telling myself that it’s better to try something and regret it then to look back and wish you had. It’s easy to do this with the small stuff, but the real challenge is to make it work with the big stuff too. I’m walking the walk now.
2. Empathy helps. My immediate reaction was all about how “I” felt and the sacrifices “I’d” have to make. But, I didn’t take into consideration the amazing opportunity that my husband had earned and the possibility of a better life for our kids where they can be outdoors and experience life in a whole new way.
3. Focusing on the positive makes all the difference. Whenever I started finding myself getting sad about not teaching or stressed about how I’m going to drive in the snow, I made myself think of something that was going to be amazing as a result of the change. For example, I will experience seasons! And, there are new places to eat, hike, picnic, camp, shop, etc. In fact, our backyard is essentially one big network of hiking trails surrounded by a herd of buffalo. Trading in alligators for buffalo doesn’t seem so bad! And, research does prove that being outside is good for overall health and quality of life. Denver hasn’t recently been voted the #1 place to live for nothing!
4. Buying a home is such an emotional process. As a true quality geek, I spent a few hours before the first home search putting together a grid analysis to help me analytically decide. I had all the factors lined up perfectly: schools, commute time, HOA fees, neighborhood, etc. I had a rating scale that allowed for weights of certain items. It was going to be great! That is, until I walked into the home that we ended up purchasing. At that point, the scores didn’t matter. The fact that there was carpet in the bathroom didn’t matter. It was the perfect house. And, I learned that emotions do have a place at the decision table in some situations. Touché.
5. Saying goodbye is hard. When it comes to friends, I’m a quality over quantity kind of gal. And, I never expected it would be so difficult to say farewell. Between work and family, there’s honestly little social time to start with. So, Facebook has become my connection to the world over the years. And, I’m hoping to stay in touch with loved ones here as I develop a new network in Denver. I’ve already reached out to the Denver ASQ section and am excited to see that they host so many community SR events. Also, moving to such a “cool” place opens my doors to Florida friends/family wanting to escape the excruciating heat!
6. As a planner, I like to have everything organized but I learned very quickly in this process that curveballs can happen on a daily basis. For example, when I flew to Denver to close on our new home, we discovered the previous owners weren’t moved out and had not completed the required repairs. Then, the first couple that purchased our home in Tampa bailed out after their parents in Beijing decided they didn’t like it and wouldn’t fund it. But, there’s a solution to every problem. Right? Rather than getting upset, we figured out what we needed to do to make it work. And, it all did. The curveballs actually made the results better than expected.
7. When I find myself getting anxious trying to juggle the move, work, kids, etc., I’ve started redirecting myself to a more mindful state. I even bought a fidget cube to help me refocus when necessary. That deep breathe that used to mean I was getting anxious about something now gives me an opportunity to take a moment to be aware of my surroundings and exist in that moment. Worrying about yesterday or tomorrow isn’t going to help me right now. Who knows how many more times I’ll have this experience? Staying focused and grateful for this moment is priceless.
8. Big change is an open door to slip in all kinds of other change you haven’t succeeded with yet. For example, our kids have been put on notice that we will live a more active lifestyle and put more consideration into our diets. That wouldn’t have worked so easily with our daily lives so set in our routine here. But, it will work if we slip this into the move and make it an immediate habit.
9. Projecting positivity really does affect the people around you. While there may have been inner turmoil at times, it was important to me that the kids were excited and all-in. From countdown calendars to travel guides/books to state-specific coloring pages, I tried my best to create anticipation of a great adventure. I think communicating with them and focusing on the benefits really made a difference. They seem genuinely excited.
10. The amount of work involved with a relocation like this, even with a relocation company assisting, seems insurmountable at first. I mean, it took less documentation for me to bring a child into the world! Hours and hours of time have gone into this process. And, it can seem overwhelming at times. So, I needed something to focus on. That something is a dog. As soon as the snow melts and springs creeps in, I want a puppy to join our crew and be a part of this next phase of our lives. After all, it turns out kids like pets better than their own siblings anyway. It’s time for this petless family to load up the Subarus with a furry friend. That’s what I’m targeting for the future. But, at the same time, I’m enjoying the journey as much as possible.