I feel sure that there are a number of people out there who think I’m bat-shit crazy. I’ve moved 17 times in my adult life (six times to where I live now – I kept at it until it stuck). I’ve changed jobs 16 times in 26 years, often into a completely different career (for example, caterer to lawyer). I have four college degrees.
When I got engaged, I told my would-be husband that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to stick it out for the long haul because I didn’t seem to stick with anything for the long haul. I’m happy to say we’ve been married for 15 years…in no small part, perhaps, because he’s been willing to move six times (and sometimes the moves were even his idea!).
Now maybe I am bat-shit crazy, but here’s the thing: I don’t just tolerate change. I crave it. I thrive in chaos. I loathe the status quo.
So when someone tells me they really want to change ____ (job, career, relationship, location, etc., etc.), I am baffled when the next words out of their mouths are…”But I can’t.” Sure you can. You always can. The thing is, change takes sacrifice. It’s not so much that people “can’t.” It’s that they aren’t willing to make the sacrifice.
I can’t even tell you how much I’ve sacrificed to make all the changes I’ve made over the years. But I’ll try. Here are just some of the sacrifices I’ve made:
- Damaged or lost relationships with friends or colleagues. So many I’ve probably forgotten some people altogether.
- Money (sometimes significant amounts) on the sale of houses and condos in real estate transactions (we’ve bought and sold six dwellings in 15 years).
- Opportunities to be near and with family, sometimes during major life events and crises.
- Stuff–mountains of stuff. Stuff I’ve replaced and had to get rid of again. Stuff I bought, was gifted, was given. Stuff I loved and hated and outgrew.
- Space. I’ve lived in a 3500 sq. ft. house. I’ve lived in a 1296 sq. ft. condo. I’ve lived in several in between. It’s all the same to me. You know, except for the amount of stuff I can fit in it.
- Career trajectory, upward mobility. I could probably be a Chief Purser, law firm partner, Full Professor by now if I’d stuck with one of those things.
- A passel of kids (but we did manage to acquire one along the way. And by “acquire” I mean adopt, not snatch…just for the record).
Of all the things I’ve sacrificed over the years, do you know what I’ve grieved the most? (And I’d like to say it was relationships because that would make me sound all deep and stuff but…) A chicken basket. A white basket with a small ceramic chicken glued on it. It was given away in one of many “Brutal Purges” that resulted in hundreds of “off to the local charity” trips. I’ve grieved it because my mother-in-law talked a store clerk out of it when it wasn’t even for sale and gave it to us as part of a wedding gift. She cracked me up, my mother-in-law.
I’ve known people who have made the sacrifice, decided it wasn’t worth it, and went back to their old job/relationship/town/whatever. I applaud that. Some sacrifices aren’t worth it. I wouldn’t give up my husband and son for anything. I wouldn’t give up chocolate for anything. (As aforementioned, I’m neither deep nor sentimental as evidenced again by giving my husband, son, and chocolate the same priority level. But it’s chocolate, for heaven’s sake.)
But those who say they want to change, but can’t? I’m not buying it. It’s just a matter of whether value of change > sacrifice.