Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Art Decker of New York self storage
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” This occurred to me during a recent move, but I was skeptical. I was moving from Chicago, where all my friends and family lived, where all my work contacts were located, to San Francisco. San Francisco is a beautiful city, but I did not know anyone and my cost of living was about to skyrocket.
All my thoughts were consumed with discouraging statistics: Groceries in San Francisco are 14 percent more than in Chicago, health care was going to cost me 8 percent more, and my housing was slated to increase roughly 108 percent. Not only was I going to have to adjust to a new city and find new friends, but I was confronting the reality of a significant downsize. I was not thrilled and even the lemonade in San Francisco seemed expensive!
Though I wasn’t in the mood for making lemonade out of my lemons, it seemed more refreshing than sipping lemon juice at a pity party. Here’s what I did to embrace my new adventure.
1. I wrote affirmations to uplift my spirits.
I told myself that this move was going to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I told myself it would be an adventure. I told myself that downsizing meant a simple, uncluttered life, and more time to focus on what really mattered in life. In a way, I was applying advice that is often given to parents of spirited children. Parents are constantly told to change their terminology. Their children are not stubborn, they are persistent. They are not hyper, they are full of energy. They are not finding ways to get into trouble -- they are creative, resourceful problem-solvers.
At the same time that I was going through the process of planning my move, a lawyer friend had to leave his office because he could no longer afford the rent. He moved to a different part of town and rented a plain vanilla office from a large corporation. He was heartbroken over leaving his unique office, in a small building in a wealthy part of town. Did he tell his clients that he had just become another victim of the recession? Nope. Instead he told them he was moving up in the world and needed a more central location where people could find him more easily. Being downtown was especially important, he told them, because he so many new clients were from that area. Not only had he come up with a great affirmation to keep his spirits up (“hey, I’m really moving up in the world”), but he had redefined his own terms and come up with something positive he could tell his clients -- and now he’s doing fine in the new location.
2. I focused on the benefits.
When I moved, I was focused on the high cost of the housing market. I wondered what kind of home we would be able to afford. When I investigated more closely, though, I found out the situation wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Though housing and grocery costs were higher than in Chicago, utility costs were less - 19 percent less. I also found one of the few cities in the country with a better public transportation than Chicago. San Francisco’s public transportation network, with its BART rail system, cable cars, and ferries, is world famous. I wouldn’t have to do as much driving. I hate sitting in traffic, so that did cheer me up.
Not only that, but I realized that I could commute by bicycle in San Francisco a lot of the time, as long as I didn’t mind going up and down hills. I bicycled in Chicago too, but in Chicago, several months of the year are not terribly pleasant for bicycling. It gets cold and snowy and the roads are icy. San Francisco has a mild, cool climate which is perfect for bicycling. I went back to my affirmation idea and told myself, “I’m going to end up in the best shape of my life because of this move!”
The benefits I focused on may not be the same ones that will matter to you. Think about how your move will affect your daily life and your routine. Will your commute to work be easier? Will you be closer to family? Will you be in an area that puts you far from local issues that used to drive you crazy -- either in terms of the weather in your former community, or in terms of office politics? Even if you can’t think of anything, and your new job requires you to get up an hour earlier, try to focus on how this will help you to develop personally. Think, “I’ve always wanted to be an early riser,” or “Now I’ll have plenty of time in the evenings to pursue my own interests.” If you will have many new job duties, think about it in terms of the added responsibility and how it shows off your potential.
3. I researched my industry so I could reposition myself for success.
When I researched the self-storage industry in San Francisco, I realized that my move might be just what my career needed. The self-storage industry is thriving in San Francisco (probably because so many people are having to downsize, like me). I realized that I was moving to an area where there were plenty of job opportunities, whether I wanted to move up within my own company or horizontally, to a different company, or even strike out on my own and become an entrepreneur.
It’s always useful to research how a move will affect your career and your future. If you have a choice about where you will move, find out which cities present the best opportunities in your industry, or within your company. Could moving provide an opportunity to work toward a promotion? If you own your own business, what are the best new markets? Try doing a Google search on “best cities” and your industry or market area. You’ll find many magazines periodically feature lists of the best cities in which to relocate. Try Money, Forbes, Kiplinger’s, Business Week, and even U.S. News & World Report. Find those lists, and think about how they relate to your own career. You may even find a list that caters to your situation. Forbes, for example, puts out an annual list of the best cities for working mothers. So do several major newspapers. Then make your own short list of the cities you’d like to go to, talk it over with your family, and make the best choice you can to reposition yourself for success.
I didn’t want to make lemonade out of my lemons in the beginning. I mostly wanted to hand those lemons to anyone I could blame for my move! But I like to keep a positive attitude, so I gave it a try -- and now I love San Francisco, I am in the best shape of my life, and I couldn’t imagine a better place to drink my lemonade!
Art Decker is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a New York self storage locator. Art leads a busy life and often travels between sites, like from Texas to the Virginia self storage site. As a result, Art has had the opportunity to witness many people amidst relocation and has paid attention to how and why some people have an easier time adjusting to a relocation than others do.
* Are you on Twitter? Then join over 3,400 people who get my stress relief tips, happiness ideas, and thought provoking quotes. @workhappynow
* One of my favorites posts in the past week was by Marc of Marc and Angel Hack Life. He writes about the 18 most influential pieces of writing in his life. Very well thought out.
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A little undiluted lemon juice is good for the system occasionally--it helps to realkalize an overly acidic system and cleanse the palate. 😉 How one responds to major lifestyle changes seems to depend in part on how truly voluntary those decisions were in the first place, but once the decision is made (or made for you)it definitely is more productive to focus on the positive rather than the negatives or bitter elements.
Glad to hear you've adjusted to San Francisco and now love it. I don't live there, but I frequently visit the South Bay area of San Francisco, and I love it there! (It's also a bit warmer and drier than the actual city of San Francisco-a bonus for someone from the Pacific northwet, er I mean west, coast. Best wishes to you for much happiness and success in your new "home" city.
You are wise to have approach change with positivity despite the nagging of resistance. Change is always good despite our perception that it's not. Like everything else in this world, we must accept change with open arms. 🙂
Good for you for having the guts to move cross country. So many people want to move, hate the weather they're in and do nothing about it! We relocated 3 years ago. Downsize doesn't even begin to describe what we did! However we gave away or sold all our stuff. We also park both cars in our garage!
> embrace my new adventure
Now those are the words of wisdom.
We can either take the bull by the horns or get run over. As one of my managers always told me, drive or be driven.
I like your analogy about cleansing the palate! I think there is always something refreshing about a new start.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment,
It's so true. Ultimately, each of us has control over our own destiny and what we choose to make out of it. The more we take charge, the more control we have over it.
Sometimes it's almost disconcerting to see how much of what we own is truly unneeded! That's another reason why changing things around can be good, because it forces some re-evaluation of priorities.
Wonderful advice on how to change perspective to focus on the positive. By seeking out opportunity and looking for positive value you were able to find many things to be grateful for. This is so important and I work toward it daily. There come so many things to be thankful for if one makes an effort to focus attention on them. Thanks!
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