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    GUEST POST: Making Relocation the Catalyst for Life Changes and Self Growth

    September 12, 2010 2927 Views

    Making Relocation the Catalyst for Life Changes and Self Growth

    If you are being forced to relocate to another part of the country, or even another part of your state, you may not be feeling very happy about your move right now. You might even feel like the bumper sticker that says, "Why does life keep teaching me lessons that I have no desire to learn?"

    I don't know why life teaches us lessons that we have no desire to learn. What I do know is that those times in life when we are faced with a hard lesson are the times when opportunity is always greatest. As Willa Cather said (somebody should make this into a bumper sticker too!), "Some things we learn best in calm, and some in storm."

    Put another way, when life gives us a chance to learn a lesson, we have the chance to open a present. We don't know what may lie inside the wrapping paper. Does the package contain something exciting and wonderful? Or something boring and mundane? Or does it, perhaps, contain a book we've read before? Been there, done that, didn't want to do it again.

    The thing about this present, though, is that what it contains has not yet been decided. You are sitting there, with a present in your lap, and as you unwrap it, you get to decide what that package contains. That's not the way opening presents normally works. But it is the way this present works. That's what is so magical about a life change like relocation. It truly will be what you make of it.

    So how do you change your outlook from self-pity to excitement and anticipation of good things to come? Try these strategies.

    1. Change your self talk. Scientists are beginning to study the effect that the thoughts you have in your brain have on the rest of your body. Have you ever heard of the placebo effect in medical studies? Sometimes, when doctors tell patients they are being given a strong medicine, the effect of each patient's faith in that strong medicine is so powerful that even the patients in the control group get better, or at least have significant improvement in their symptoms. (The control group in a medical study contains patients who aren't really being given medicine but who are instead being given, for example, sugar pills, or the equivalent depending on the treatment that is being studied -- so that doctors can see what the true effect of taking the medicine is compared to taking nothing.)

    Placebo studies show us the power of thoughts in the brain to change actual, physical realities. You may be thinking that your job outlook does not depend on your thoughts. But, when your thoughts are positive, you behave different than you do when you have negative thoughts. You may see opportunities that you wouldn't have noticed if you were walking around in a cloud of self pity. You may think more creatively about your options, finding opportunities to learn new things that will help you to advance in your career, or you may suddenly notice that you are moving to a city in which there are many businesses that fall into your industry, giving you the chance to move horizontally, to a similar job in a company with a different corporate culture, if that is what you are looking for.

    2. Set goals. Once you have started to think about what a positive change your relocation will be, try getting more specific. Visualize where you want to be and what you want to be doing, at set mileposts that are still down the road. Think of what you would like to be doing in a year, and what steps you will have to take to get to that point. Don't self-censor your dreams! You may think that your dream is unlikely to come true. That doesn't matter. In the words of Robert Browning, "A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what is heaven for?" Or, more prosaically, as Leo Burnett put it, "When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."

    Setting goals is a way of keeping your eye on the ball, so to speak. If your goal is to advance within your company, you will want to make sure to set yourself up to get the kind of experience that would be looked for by someone doing a job search for the position you are hoping to get. If you need additional education, you will need to find a way to make that happen. Start with your goal, work backward, and you will have a road map, or guide, telling you what steps to take at each stage of your journey.

    3. Get more information. If your upcoming move is getting you down, it may be because you do not have enough information about the place where you are going. Getting information is a good way to put your worries to rest when positive thinking is not enough to dispel them. If there is some burning question on your mind that has you bothered, find out the answer. What are the schools like in the area? Is public transportation reliable? How are you going to keep in touch with the friends and family you are leaving behind?

    One way to quickly change your own attitude about your move is to set aside your career for a moment and think about your personal interests. Do you have a particular church that you want to look for in your new neighborhood? Are there hobbies that you enjoy that you may find new chances to spend time, because of a neighborhood group or resources in a city that is different from the one where you used to live?

    4. Find things that you can look forward to about the move itself. Do you love to travel by train? See if you can find a way to arrange your move so that you can go by train. If you are traveling across the country, think of it as a vacation -- a road trip that you are taking for fun. Even if the move was imposed on you, nobody is stopping you from having fun with it. Be a tourist along the way. Stop at museums in strange cities, or go to see the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, or the Smoky Mountains. Take pictures. Collect postcards. Document your trip in a scrapbook. You may feel that this is the last thing you want to remember. But guess what? When you start to act as though it is an enjoyable even that you want to preserve for posterity, that's what it will become -- a special time to spend time with your family, get to know them better, and see a part of the country that you may never have seen before.

    Finally, my last and, in my opinion, most profound suggestion and challenge to those facing a tough move: make a list of all the things that you hate about this relocation. Then turn each negative into a positive. Suppose that you are moving from the Southwest to the Midwest. Yes, you hate long drives, but you'll get to stop in Chicago and visit the Field Museum. Yes, you dislike cold, icy winters, but you will love going to the lakefront in the summer. Yes, you got passed up for the promotion you wanted in your old department, but you are being given a chance to shine in front of a new group of people who don't know anything about you except that you were handpicked to come and be with them. Be your own spin doctor, and before you know it, you will find yourself believing the spin -- and really, truly making the best out of this move.

    art-deckerArt Decker is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a California self storage locator. Art leads a busy life and often travels from Texas to Washington D.C. 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.

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