This month marks 11 years since I packed up my Jeep with my cat, clothes and some belongings and drove to Colorado to start a new life. Many people thought I was taking a big risk, quitting my job and moving across the country to a place where I didn’t know anyone, but I knew that the bigger risk was staying where I was. I was in the position that Steve Jobs spoke of when he said: “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” Having answered that question with “no” too many times myself, I knew that it was time for something new.
I felt called to the mountains, and it didn’t take long to realize that I had made the right decision. 2,000 miles away from my family and friends and all that I had known for 27 years, I found “home.” The beauty of the majestic, purple mountains, abundant sunshine and infinite hiking trails drew me to my place in this world.
While I had visited before I moved to check out apartments and potential jobs, my experience in Human Resources taught me that the likelihood of being relocated by an employer was slim, so instead I saved enough reserves to be comfortable for six months and moved without a job.
Unburdened by work, I had time to familiarize myself with my new home. I settled into and furnished my apartment, and explored the neighborhood. In March, I was offered a contract position to start right away. I quickly made friends at my job and proved myself worthy of the role, so when the time came to conclude my contract, I was offered a regular, full time job.
While it may have seemed risky to move across the country without a job to a place where I didn’t know anyone, I viewed the move as a calculated (and necessary) risk. I did months of research and preparation ahead of time, and knew what I was getting into having visited Colorado twice. I was unhappy where I was: stifled and stuck in a rut, and knew I needed wide open spaces – a place to make a brand new start (to borrow from the Dixie Chicks). It was much riskier to stay where I was unhappy. In the words of Maya Angelou, “stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole woman.”
Looking back on my decision 11 years later, I know it was the right one. I miss having my family and old friends close by, but I am a stronger, happier version of myself in Colorado. The mountains called to me, and I answered with no regrets. Sometimes small changes can have a big impact, but other times, it takes a significant move to find your place in life. Seize the moment and take your life by the reigns. Only you have the power to change your life.