Are You a Relocation Addict?

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The Myth of Moving Away

Growing up, I was pretty much the exact opposite of Dorothy. I couldn't wait to get away from home. When it came time to go to college, I went out of state. And I'm sure I'm not the first suburban kid who believed an ideal cosmopolitan lifestyle waited for me in the biggest city in which I could survive.

I spent all of my twenties and most of my thirties struggling to thrive in an urban sprawl of millions -- with less money, fewer friends, little love to speak of, and hardly any access to nature that wasn't an island in asphalt... No soul.

All I had was my work (which is still certainly one of my priorities) and when work was the only thing I had to care about, my decisions revolved around the work. When I finally moved back home, it wasn't to shift my spirit, it was to give my fledgling entrepreneurial business the best possible chance at survival.

I gave up everything I had ever moved for, to move that one remaining thing.

It was a devastating resolution for my ego; it felt like the defeat of a lifetime.

Everything I moved away in order to find I ended up having because I returned.

With financial breathing space, my business, my practice, my career as an author took off. And I was able to slowly (re)acquire all the balancing elements of a good life -- trees, rivers, mountains; pets; family; a circle of friends... Ultimately, the love of a lifetime.

Relocation Addiction

There is such a thing as relocation addiction. Retreading the setup phase, establishing a base of operations, and putting down new roots... it all feels productive and creative -- it is. It gets you all cocked and ready... to begin the real tasks that will define you and give you a sense of purpose.

Starting over -- it's brave. It's pioneering. Adventurous. American.

It's also the most intractable form of procrastination, isn't it?

If you've ever cleaned your house from top to bottom before you could sit down to write a term paper, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Busy-ness tricks the mind into believing we're being "productive." It's all a lot of time and energy getting to back to zero.

There you are. Square one. Again.

Really? I must be in the wrong place. Maybe I should move...

The life you seek is not a place. The life you seek is about you -- what you make of it -- wherever you may be.

Movement as an Asset

There is such a thing as being a Scanner personality type, which might define your pay-off point in any given venture.

If you're honest with yourself, you can design the life you want, including one filled with movement. If you like to travel, or constantly reinvent your surroundings, there are constructive ways to have that at the center of your existence. There are careers and lifestyles that require it.

But it has to be an asset, not some form of "anesthesia."

If you feel a strong pull toward a particular location, and you are in a position to pursue that intuition, by all means, go for it. Explore!

Discover! Find out what's waiting for you over that horizon. Go see where that shooting star might have landed.

A Practical Perspective: If there is a job offer, or a better market, or a field your career legitimately requires… Moving in these circumstances would be considered strategy, not whim.

If someone in your family has serious health issues, you may move back home to care for them.

And, obviously, if you're in a horrible domestic situation you know you need to get out of, do it sooner rather than later.

Relocation can be an effective component to recovery from alcohol- or drug-addiction.

Maybe you move for a relationship, such as your partner's needing to relocate for work or be close to their family.

(But, check yourself, now. Relocating for romantic potential is an iffy reason. Moving across country after meeting someone online, carrying on a long-distance relationship for a few months, and then buying a one-way plane ticket... Hmm. Odds are certainly against that particular gamble. Err on the side of caution.)

These types of relocation-based life changes should pretty much happen in one big leap -- either once in a lifetime; or maybe, for the free spirit types, a few times in a decade.

But more than that -- like, every year? Um... I question the motivation behind those decisions.

If you're moving as a form of procrastination, or to give yourself a sense that you're making something happen, that you're building something… be honest with yourself:

Are you unnecessarily rebooting and repeating a sequence of events where you end up back at the same dissatisfied place and considering yet another move?

You may be chasing the horizon -- a point in the distance that constantly recedes even as you move closer to it.

Is This a Pattern?

  • If moving has led to a series of places you don't want to be, maybe it's time to stop.
  • Is there a reason why you can't rest for awhile, reevaluate, take inventory?
  • Have you stopped long enough to consider that what you truly seek might already be present?

Maybe the power you need is not found at the end of some journey, Dorothy -- maybe you're already walking around in it!

Forks in the road are often a little shady. A lot of them appear to be poorly paved.

I would be wary of anything that looks like a highway to heaven, a straight-shot short-cut to everything you want, a self-contained resort with every aspect of life you could possibly need, all at your finger tips, just around the corner.

That sounds like Stepford. A mirage. I don't believe in that place.

That kind of place, or those kind of jobs, or that kind of relationship, are often the ones most likely to blow up in your face. Don't trust perfect-on-paper. Too-good-to-be-true needs exhaustive scrutiny.

Disappointments develop directly from your expectations.

The life you want to create is less about something you find and move to, and much more about whatever you make of it, wherever you may be.

You are here.

Slade's signature

Image credit h.koppdelaney via Creative Commons on Flickr