You little sponge, you

I left everything I knew and loved to make a risky personal investment. It’s easier than you think.

I loved everything about my life — my job, my friends, my family, my city — so why did I decide to sell my beloved house, all my stuff and leave a career and life I love for the unknown?

Everyone keeps telling me that this move…

“is going to be such an adventure”
“will be so great for you”
“is going to bring you and your fiancé closer”
“will be great for your career”

These may all be true, but none of those really fit into the reasoning. We made this decision so that I could get out of my own way and do something that I’ve always wanted to do. This (possibly preemptive) change is driven by a desire to challenge myself to be more. My fear of becoming someone who might one day become “stuck” has outpaced whatever it is that was driving me before.

It’s funny how once you get the ball rolling on this kind of change, it all falls into place quicker than you expect it to. As we were in the throes of making this decision, we had a list of dependencies:

  • Sell our house and get x rate of return
  • Find a short-term lease that would accommodate the needs of our dog (who, of course, always comes first)
  • Determine a plan for all our stuff — sell, bring or store
  • Ensure that the job market could support me if we decided to stay in our new city
  • Navigate the ins and outs of student loans
  • Figure out a solution for regular monthly income

We (painfully) overcame each hurdle, but it wasn’t until we looked around our sold, empty house when we realized that yes, we can do this and we will be ok. In the blink of an eye we had checked all the boxes and were able to make the move to Chicago so that I can attend a Master’s program at Northwestern University in the fall.

For now, instead of passionately working at a job which I found inspiring, rewarding and super cool, I am a sponge. I am absorbing all the knowledge I possibly can, resting my brain during this in-between time, and polishing myself up to get ready for the next challenge.

I have been a sponge before, but this time it is not out of the necessity of learning new job skills or an unfamiliar industry, but instead out of a choice to make a personal investment.

I never imagined that this kind of blanket change would be possible for me, but as everything fell into place, I realized that this is the right moment, possibly the only moment, for taking on financial and personal risk with enough confidence that this decision, at the very least, won’t screw everything up, but will instead open more opportunities.

What have I learned? Only you can get out of your own way, and it’s easier than you think.

Are you thinking about making a sweeping life change like mine? Have you already made one? I’d love to hear about the hurdles you faced (or face) and what you’ve learned in the comments below.