Around this same time two years ago, my girlfriend and I decided that we wanted to move to Spain. It was all very vague: we didn’t even know which city we wanted to go to. Six months later, we were living in Granada.
One year after that, we were back in the U.S. Today we’re living in a cabin in the middle of the woods about four hours outside of Seattle, and in two months we plan on heading to New Orleans, where we aim to settle for a while and give our legs a break from the road.
Conceptually, making all of these long-distance moves seems like a rather complex endeavor. When I talk with people about it, many say they would love to cover a lot of ground and spend time living in a lot of different places, but that the whole process is too complicated.
In all reality, picking up and moving is not as difficult as most people think. On the surface it might seem like there are a million little hurdles you have to jump over to get where you want to go, but that’s only because we do our best to over-complicate just about everything we do.
It’s a way of justifying our procrastination. We tell ourselves, “I would love to go live in X exotic location, but first I have to do all of these other things.” Then as we attempt to accomplish all of the little things, more and more emerge. Pretty soon we give up and tell ourselves the wistful “someday”.
But, as Creedence so accurately put it, someday never comes. There is only now, and if you don’t apprehend the moment, you’ll never get where you want to go.
When it comes to making really big moves, you need to simplify your thinking. All this takes is a slight shift in how you view the whole process.
Think “Big Picture”
There may seem like there are a million little things that have to happen before you can move, but really there are only a few key steps that you need to take in order to get the whole thing on the road. Once you’re moving, all of the little things tend to sort out themselves.
Ask yourself—what are the most important things that must happen in order for this to work?
When Ashlee and I went to Spain, that meant we needed an apartment rented, and really that was it. We’re both lucky enough to be freelance writers, so we can do our work from anywhere.
Once we’re in New Orleans, however, I want to nail down a full-time job so that I can take a break from the hectic life of freelancing. So that means there are only two key things that must happen—we need a place to live, and I need a job. Well, three things. We also need plane tickets.
The internet makes it incredibly easy to accomplish all of these details. Through a bit of networking, I already have a number of solid job leads, and finding an apartment is just a matter of looking through Craiglist.
So we have three major things that must happen for us to move to the Big Easy. We need plane tickets. We need an apartment. And I want a job. By focusing our efforts on these three points, the framework for the entire plan is laid out. From there, all of the little things fall into place as we go. The packing will happen, the things to be stored will be stored, and so forth.
For you, the key things might be different. If you own a house, for example, your plan might look more like “find someone to rent/buy the house, find a job, find a new house”. Constrict your efforts to these things, and forget about the details.
You might be wondering, “Yes, the big picture is all good and well, but what about boxing and shipping and storing all of my stuff?” Which brings us to our next point…
Learn to Live with Less
Simply put, the more you own, the more difficult it is to move. Get rid of as much as possible—it’s all weighing you down.
Once you arrive in your new home, there will be plenty of time to collect more stuff. That might mean living with an incomplete kitchen for a while, or with little to no furniture, but that’s the price you pay for freedom. Learn to be comfortable living without.
And I mean really cutting back. Not just kitchen utensils and decorations and books you’ll never read again. I mean all of the little keepsakes that you hold near and dear. It might seem like all of the little mementos that you’ve collected are priceless and must be held on to at any cost, but ask yourself—are the boxes of random memories from yesterday worth holding you back from making new memories tomorrow?
Think of it like this—all of the stuff you own is from your life in the past, and by getting rid of it, you free yourself to move toward your future.
And it’s easy to get new stuff. Learning to live with less also means learning to live without the newest and latest. If you’re willing to use second-hand furniture and living accessories, you will never have an empty home. Everywhere you go, people are trying to get rid of their stuff, usually so they can buy more.
There’s more than enough stuff out there for everyone. If you want to follow your heart and move to the city of your dreams, put the stuff you have down. There’s more to pick up when you get where you’re going.
Have a Job Waiting for You
Admittedly, this has been an easy one for me because all of my work is done via telecommunications. But I’m about to give that up for a real, in-office job, and I’m finding it easier than I had expected to find leads toward positions that suit me.
I would say that 90% of the people I know who have made big moves and failed had it happen because they thought that when they showed up in the new city they would just find a job, easy-peasy. As we all know, the job market hasn’t been all that great in recent years, so finding a job on the fly—especially when you depend on it for your big move to be successful—can be difficult.
Once again, the internet comes to the rescue.
Start applying for jobs well ahead of your move. Even if the companies you apply to are looking to fill a position immediately, at least get your resume to them and let them know who you are. That way when you get closer to your move, they’ll have you in mind if another position opens.
Network like crazy. For me, LinkedIn is invaluable. Join groups that pertain to your destination. I’m part of NOLA LinkedIn, for example, which is a group for business professionals and entrepreneurs. Announce that you’re on the job hunt, and start making connections.
And don’t just keep things strictly business—let your personality come out. It’s one thing for a company to take a chance on hiring you from afar based upon your resume, but it’s a whole other thing if you can let them know that you’re personable and interesting.
What’s more, if in your networking endeavors you are able to connect to people on both a professional and personal level, you might end up having new friends waiting for you. And that’s never a bad thing.
Ignore What Could Go Wrong
Many people never make their big move because they’re afraid of encountering problems.
Guess what—no matter where you go, whether you stay put or head out into the world, you’re going to run into problems. And they’re never going to be the things that you’re worried about. It’s always something totally random.
Don’t let your fears restrict you from following your dreams. Fear is an illusion. To be afraid of what might go wrong if you move to a new city is like being afraid of being in your bedroom with the lights out—you can’t see what’s in there with you, but something could be so you’re afraid of it.
If you need to be afraid of something, how about being afraid that you’ll never follow your heart and realize your dreams? That’s something that happens to people all over the world every single day.
So the path to making your big move is easier than you thought:
- Think about the big picture and only concern yourself with the key things that must be accomplished—forget the details.
- Learn to live with less—get rid of your burden.
- Start figuring out how you’ll earn a living ahead of time.
- Don’t worry—there’s nothing to fear but…
I know this prescription works because I’ve made a lot of big moves. In the past ten years I’ve lived in more than ten cities spanning three countries on two continents. Over that time I’ve refined my moving process a great deal. Trust me—it wasn’t this easy when I was first starting out.
But that was because I made things more complicated than they had to be. The old saying is right—less is more.
The less complicated you make things (and the less stuff you own), the more opportunity you have to live out your dreams.