We are moving. To Iowa.
This is a huge decision for me and the girls – and one of the scariest decisions of my life. There is a chance I could fail and that scares me beyond belief. The journey so far has been full of tears, soul searching, anxiety, pain, guilt, but also excitement and a renewed confidence in myself.
I spent months thinking about what I would do if the opportunity to move presented itself. I had one opportunity for a position in Moline about eight months ago, and I sought people’s opinions about it because I wasn’t sure of myself. That was a mistake, but also an opportunity to grow. The opinions (that yes, I asked for) hurt. That hurt stayed with me for a long time.
I was used to making decisions as part of a couple – Steve and I were a team. In the past, I knew that I couldn’t go wrong, because I had Steve to back me up. When we made a decision, it was our decision, and there was no doubt in my mind that between us we would figure it out. Making such a big decision on my own paralyzed me.
There was a lot of soul-searching and many tears over the past few months – without them, I wouldn’t have established the confidence I needed to put my name in for a position that required relocation.
Here are seven learnings I had as I stepped out of my comfort zone and started to make that scary step forward.
1. Define Your Boundaries
There was a woman at work in a leadership position that shared her experience in setting boundaries with me. She gave me the book Lean In to read. Most importantly, she forced me to tell her what my boundaries were when Steve died.
Telling her what I needed from my job to be able to balance work and life was uncomfortable and scary. I always believed that you accepted a job knowing the commitment that came with it and if it didn’t align with your personal life then you looked for a different job.
Saying what I needed from my position was harder than it should have been. However, it became easier when I realized that by defining my boundaries others could understand what I needed in order to be successful in my work. Defining my boundaries enabled me to be successful!
Here is a list of some of my boundaries when I considered a new position:
- I was willing to accept a position in North Dakota or the Quad Cities (no other Deere location).
- The position had to have enough flexibility to allow me to work remotely (this removed me from a lot of jobs that aligned with my current career path).
- Travel requirements needed to be low.
- The position needed to fill a gap in my list of career experiences.
Needless to say, my boundaries eliminated a lot of potential jobs for me. If it wasn’t right, I wasn’t interested. The why behind each requirement was important to my overall happiness. I have a network of friends in North Dakota and the Quad Cities as well as a level of comfort in both of those locations. Working remotely enables me to be home with a sick kid, see them at sporting events and enables me to work while visiting family (preserving vacation) in the summer. Low travel requirements enable me to be at home with the girls most nights. I do enjoy travelling, so some travel is a bonus.
Knowing my boundaries helped me focus on my needs and the needs of my family first, which enables work-life balance second. Boundaries aren’t just for work – I have them in many areas of my life. Understanding your boundaries makes it easier to say yes or no to opportunities in your life.
2. Identify a Goal (Even if It Changes)
You need to have a goal, in order to have some sort of focus and motivation. I kept getting asked what I wanted to do at John Deere. My response was that I was willing to try almost anything because I love to learn (which is true).
I got called out on that statement recently. Another woman leader said to me, “I never want to hear you say that again. You need to know what you want or you will never get there.”
In that moment I voiced what I had been afraid to say – I wanted to be a factory manager. Why was I afraid to say that? Honestly, I don’t know if I am good enough to get there. I don’t know what it takes to get there – or, if what it takes conflicts with my boundaries. If that’s the case though, then I’ll just set a new goal!
I rarely voice my dreams, because I don’t want anyone else to know that I failed if I don’t get there. That is the voice of the old me – the one that tried to be perfect. I’ve changed, I’m a real person with successes and failures and I need to be vulnerable in order to truly live.
In that moment I realized that if I didn’t voice what I wanted, then I also wouldn’t have any help getting there. In my new world, you need all the help you can get! This career goal gives me direction. What I discover along the way may lead me to a different destination, but the journey is the best part!
3. Timing Isn’t Always Everything
There is never a perfect time for change. Never. My girls are young, the Welken family is here. They kids can’t fly alone, and they cannot drive. I appreciate the help I receive from my mother-in-law, Deloris,. They love being spoiled by their grandma.
Fast forward 5 or 10 years – they will have friends, a larger social life and likely be engaged in numerous activities. So, which time is better? It’s a toss up, but from talking to numerous people that have moved their children, it seems that the younger they are, the easier they adjust.
Finding the perfect time will paralyze you. If you are considering a big life change, understand that no time will ever be perfect. There is risk in every decision. Sometimes, you have to go with your heart.
4. You’re Not Trapped
Understand your options, because you do have options! I realized a few things in my journey:
- It’s not hard to find work in North Dakota.
- I could work in Fargo, and move there if being in my house was too difficult.
- I could stay in my current position for a long time, in my current house.
- I could move closer to my parents.
- I could do anything I put my mind to!
I could Bottom line – there are options. There are times that people will make you feel trapped – saying things like, “Jane Doe did this and she regretted it forever.” or “Joan Doe kept her place and raised her kids. She didn’t need to move.”
There are a million ways to make people feel trapped, and most are not intentional. Realize that there is no one like you. We each have our own story – and yours is different than everyone else’s. You need to make the decisions on how the next chapter will read.
Change is hard and scary, but you always have options. Sometimes options can make you feel selfish, scared or even humble. Sometimes you question your sanity. If this happens to then you are normal!
5. Weigh the Pros and Cons – Then Toss Your List!
I weighed the pros and cons of this decision so many times, that it isn’t funny. I was able to come up with a tie almost every time.
The benefit of the pros/cons is that you understand what you want, what is important, and what options you have. This is a great exercise, but just because you have eight pros and 10 cons does not mean you are considering a bad decision. If the pros make you feel like you are truly living life, and the cons can be worked through, then GO FOR IT!
6. The Most Powerful Question
What’s the worst that could happen?
This question was the game changer for me when I was considering a move. The worst that could happen to me (with this move specifically), is that I hated my life in Iowa and the girls didn’t adapt to their new home.
Is this likely? No. However, I love many things about Valley City, things that I cannot take with me to Iowa. One of those is the people here who loved Steve – who care enough to share their stories and support me when they can.
You cannot recreate that sense of belonging, support or the stories anywhere else. I’m also very sentimental – and I love my house here. I love my space – space that Steve created for us.
Moving to an area without family is a huge risk and it may be a mistake. What options did I have if the worst happened and we weren’t happy in Iowa? Could I come back to Valley City? Yes! Would coming back here make me feel like I failed? Absolutely not! If I come back, I will come back with the knowledge that this is where I belong.
How powerful is that? Could I imagine living here and not living surrounded by the home Steve made for me and our girls? No. I could not come home and live anywhere else!
So, what were my options? I realized that I could start saving, so I could afford to keep my house for a period of time. I didn’t have to sell anything. I could take baby steps. And that is exactly what I am doing. I can afford to keep my house in ND for a period of time and the level of comfort that gives me is amazing.
Taking a step forward may lead you to a new sense of knowledge about yourself and what you want out of life. I’m looking forward to the journey – with my security blanket firmly in place.
7. Be Prepared to Ride the Roller Coaster
This journey has brought excitement, fear, sadness, happiness, guilt and everything in between. I had never made a decision this big alone in my life. This decision impacted more than just me – it impacted my girls and our families.
I felt selfish. I felt torn. I also felt like I needed to do this for my soul. This move isn’t about a job, it’s about finding the new me. It is about finding my rhythm as a solo mom. It’s about living.
I wondered if I could even handle living on my own, without the crutch of family close by. I questioned my sanity, because I realized that I am happy in Valley City. I’m happy with my job. I love the people. There is nothing wrong here. All of that doesn’t mean I won’t be happy somewhere else though. I realized that I would always wonder, what if?
I needed to take a chance and bet on me. I knew I would regret not taking this step – not believing in myself enough to think that I could do this and thrive. I firmly believe that I can be happy anywhere in this world as long as my girls are happy. Happiness is a choice we make every single day.
Do I think Iowa is where I belong long-term? No! I have no clue where I belong at this point in my life. I envy those that do. What I do know is that Valley City will always hold a very special place in my heart. Valley City will always be home – home is a place of love, and there is no doubt that I have that here.
If you have made a similar life change, please add some advice in the comments for me and anyone else faced with change!
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