The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. – Charles DuBois
This quote holds a pretty deep meaning for me. I came across it late last summer when I started to get antsy with life in Mobile. It made me think long and hard on both what I had achieved and what I wanted out of life. This single quote opened up the realization that my future, for good or for ill, was in my hands and my hands alone. My happiness was MY responsibility, not anyone elses, and if I wasn’t happy then it was my own damn fault. Throughout the next year that theme was repackaged and re-presented to me over and over in a variety of ways until I finally accepted it.
While I realized I wanted something to change, I had no idea what or where. Being the logical person I am I went through a period of self examination trying to determine what exactly I was dissatisfied with. My friends and family? No,they were fine. My job? Nope, I pretty much liked everyone I worked with. My work? Well, it had its up and downs. High stress for sure. My city? Uh..it’s a paved over swamp. With climate and wildlife to match. Bingo.
About this same time my boss Jeff sent around a little career guide book to his managers; if you haven’t read The Adventures of Johnny Bunko I highly recommend it. It’s written in a pseudo-English manga style in an effort to “connect” to all us Gen X/Y’ers out there but if you can get past the medium it’s got 6 lessons to take away:
- There is no plan.
- Think strengths, not weaknesses
- It’s not about you.
- Persistence trumps talent.
- Make excellent mistakes.
- Leave an imprint.
The idea was these would apply to your career, but honestly it works for your life too. #1 hit me hard; here I was struggling and trying to plan my life and happiness and it just wasn’t working. Once I quit planning and just …”did”, everything else seemed to fall into place. I realized life doesn’t come with a roadmap or a GPS. You can’t pick your destination and see a nice little print out of the choices that will get you there. You can only simply start driving. Every road you take (or not) gets you somewhere (or not), so if you don’t like where you are, choose better next time. The more times you do it the better sense of direction you get, the better you ask for directions, the quicker you find your goals. Like #5 says; make excellent mistakes right?
I doubt my boss intended for the book to have quite the impact on me it did. We had discussed the topic of job stress levels in the past and why I wasn’t happy, but to be honest I hadn’t figured it out for myself. Once I knew that it was my environment outside of work, I knew it had to change. I had come out to San Diego the past two summers for vacation and I loved it. It had all the amenities of a large city but somehow with the feel of a small town. No matter what your interests were there was something catering to them; beaches, mountains, hiking trails, Vegas… it seemed to have it all. When the chance came to apply for my current job I almost didn’t even think twice about it.
There was a good chance this would be a mistake; I was giving up a managerial position with a strong future with a stable company to become a peon again. If nothing else this would be a learning experience, an “excellent mistake” if you will, and that I (probably) wouldn’t regret it. Even if it turns out to be the wrong city, I’m proud of the fact that I made this mistake well. What really got me was the fact that hardly anyone tried to talk me out of it. My closest friends and family were encouraging and supportive, and that’s always helpful with these life-changing decisions.
So here I am. I’ve been not-so-figuratively camping out here for a little over a week now. I’m tentatively standing on my own nearly 2000 miles from everything I’ve known for the past 30 years. Tomorrow the rest of my stuff arrives, the last physical links to
a sense of “home”. I think the real process of unpacking and settling in begins tomorrow.