In January of 2015, my wife and I were living in the DC area. Like we do at the first of every year we sat down to discuss our goals for the future. One thing became blatantly clear to us, we did not want to remain in the DC area.
I hadn’t been at my job for even two years but I loved the company and the potential it had for my career and my family. They didn’t allow remote employees at the time which left us in a difficult spot. But being in the DC area wasn’t conducive to our long or short-term goals. So we evaluated the circumstances and devised a plan A and a plan B that would allow us to move. Plan A was to persuade my company to allow me to work remotely and Plan B was to start looking for a new job. We negotiated a middle ground between the two plans with a temporary remote agreement that would expire several months after we moved. Less than two months after making the decision we moved to North Carolina. This is our formula. We evaluate, we decide, we plan, and we act.
We’ve used this logic to make lots of decisions in our marriage. Ultimately it’s how we decided to get married almost a decade ago and how we make career and family decisions. It’s how we got to the DC area in the first place, it’s how we left it, and it’s likely how we will leave North Carolina… or stay. Whichever.
I understand change is hard but the risk NOT changing is worse.
Without being intentional we tend to complain instead of making decisions that could offer an escape from unfavorable conditions. We become victims with no hope of accomplishing our goals. We’ll complain about our jobs, relationships, finances, or health like it’s a prison sentence. For most of us, we are where we are because we have chosen it.
Research from the University of Chicago done every few years suggests that only 33% of participants studied describe themselves as “very happy”, while 47% describe their lives as routine or dull. 37% say they are moderately satisfied with their work while 12% are outright dissatisfied. I don’t know what these numbers would look like if the research were to be conducted with actual inmates, but maybe this does describe a prison sentence. To be fair, there are a lot of variables involved with research like this so take it with a grain of salt.
But ask yourself, do you see these numbers in the lives of the people around you? Do you see them in your life?
How do you escape?
I could outline all the details of the formula and talk about how we identify our goals and determine what’s important and so on and so forth, but I won’t. Because what will be most valuable is what we DON’T DO.
Don’t undermine the commitment– When I approached my job requesting remote status, I didn’t lead with my request. I led with my commitment. I told them I was leaving DC and I’d like their support in some specific ways. Either way, we were leaving and they knew that.
Don’t view anything as permanent– Leases, mortgages, jobs etc. I don’t look at these things as immovable objects that anchor me to any one circumstance. And I don’t view them as being in short supply elsewhere. Instead, they are merely the consequence of a certain set of choices made at a particular time. With the right amount of effort, they can be changed.
Don’t let fear influence the level of commitment– I was once told that “you never do, or DON’T do anything out of fear”. This has proven true time and time again and even though stress and fear are a part of most big decisions, I do my best to minimize its influence in these critical moments. When I determine what’s important it’s not a matter of “If” I can, but a matter of “how” I can. Not every decision we’ve made has worked out perfectly according to plan. But when we use this formula, we’re satisfied with the outcomes because we didn’t yield the decision to someone or something else. Don’t be confused, this isn’t about picking a new state to live in. It’s about taking control and ownership of the hardest parts of your life in an intentional way. You’ve got to be bigger than the obstacles. Evaluate. Decide and Plan. Act. Greer Method Complete Coaching provides one on one coaching for executives and business owners. Through expert coaches, habit locking technology, and proven processes we help leaders create, manage, and sustain personal and professional performance. Jared J. Greer is the founder of Greer Method Complete Coaching. He is an executive coach, 6-time Ironman finisher, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, husband, and father of four.