I love action. Action films. Action heroes (and heroines). Action plans. Taking action. If it entails action, I’m in. I love doing stuff. It energizes me. It gives me the feeling of moving forward with my life.
But when it comes to activating big changes, things start to slow down. That makes sense because the risks are greater, the implications can be more profound, and often there are many more options to consider. On big changes, it is a good idea to reflect, analyze, compare, plan, discuss, and sleep on it for a while before deciding to take action.
We had a yearning. Four years ago, my husband Byron and I decided that we were ready to make a big move. It was time to relocate to a new area; time to begin a new adventure in our lives. My extended family relocated to the Atlanta, Georgia area five years ago. Since then nearly every phone call with my family has included a question about when we plan to move closer to them.
We started dreaming, and thinking, and playing with the idea. We pulled tear sheets out of magazines of house styles we might like to live in next time. We did web site searches on cities and communities in the USA (although we did also dream of moving to places outside of the US). We considered cost of living, weather, business community, economic development trends, taxation, arts and entertainment, the higher education scene, diversity of people, food and culture, social justice and racial tolerance, local politics, crime rates, clean water and air, proximity to good airports, and access to organic foods and farms. You know, the usual considerations.
We began driving. After we narrowed down the list to a few cities, we took short trips to check them out. We arranged to work with a local real estate agent to get a sense of the housing market. We talked to strangers. Visited local parks. Got a sense of the place and whether we would fit in. Some cities quickly fell off the list for one reason or the other. It started to feel like this was going to be a long process.
We got lucky. While making our way from Charlotte, NC after a house-hunting trip, we took a southern route on the way to visit my parents near Atlanta. There was just one more house we wanted to check out. We never did find the address, but we did make our way through Greenville, South Carolina. We stopped for a bite to eat, and walked around. We had never heard of Greenville, SC – didn’t know it existed. And then, we were instantly in love. The city was clean and beautiful. Tons of people were walking on the main street which was full of vibrant shops and restaurants and offices. The local water features, outdoor sculptures, and public parks were simply breathtaking. What was this place and why had we never heard of it? Suddenly Greenville, SC made it on the short list – a possible place for our big new adventure.
When we got home to Connecticut, I was all ready to put the “For Sale” sign on my front lawn. “Let’s sell this house and move to Greenville….now,” I suggested to my husband. After calming me down, he explained why such bold and immediate action was not a good idea. He said that things had to be done in a certain order. I was reminded of the yin-yang of our personalities. My approach has always been “go and get,” while his is usually “wait and see.” After 23 years of togetherness, I’ve learned a thing or two about patience and waiting for what you want. Still, I was energized by our new “decision” that Greenville SC was our relocation destination. One big decision made. The rest is just, well…details.
Once a decision has been made, I like to act on that decision. So you can imagine how frustrated I was when months and months went by without taking any action. We were there in our minds, but still here in our bodies. With each season that passed (winter, spring, summer, fall, and then winter again and so on), I started to wonder if this would ever happen.
Can a professional conference really change your life?
Then an unexpectedly motivating thing happened that kicked us into gear. I attended the 2016 Whatever It Takes Conference hosted by my business coach Mark LeBlanc and his business partner and my publisher, Henry DeVries of Indie Books International. I have attended this wonderful private conference for the past 3 years. Mark and Henry hold it in the upscale seaside town of La Jolla, California. It is an inspiring place to be, especially in the month of November when the summer tourism season has tapered off.
At the 2016 conference, one of the participants was the amazing professional speaker, leadership expert, and mountain climbing enthusiast, Manley Feinberg of VerticalLessons.com. Mark invited Manley to give a short speech packed with action, inspiration, fun, and motivation. The man is gifted. He’s the real deal. I’m honored to know him and to be his professional colleague.
On the final day of the conference, Manley challenged each of us at the end of the conference to “declare your current climb.” After thinking about the business goals I could set, I decided to be bold and declare my relocation to Greenville to be my “current climb” – the goal I wanted to accomplish in the next 9-12 months. Conference host Mark LeBlanc then directed each person to send him our “action plan” in the next 48 hours, outlining the steps to be taken, and milestones to be reached in pursuit of our current climb vista. (See the excerpt from my Action Plan written in Nov 2016. Explains WHY this goal is important to me: What’s Your Word for the Year? )
Q: What does this climb mean to me? “This current climb that I have declared represents the spirit of adventure and renewal. It will force me out of my comfort zone. It will enliven my relationships, enrich my creativity, and renew my zest for life. It will provide a host of exciting new opportunities to change my routine, broaden my perspective, grow my business, and add joy to my daily life.” – Kmc, Nov 18, 2016
I took a firm hold of this accountability challenge and developed a 3-month, 6-month, 9-month action plan in tandem with my husband. I emailed the plan to Mark within the 48 hour window. More importantly, I keep the written action plan visible in my office, and I added the milestones to my online calendar. If you want something badly enough, you have to hold your feet to the fire. Accountability is powerful!
Our Castle Moment
Still, we were not ready to put a “For Sale” sign on our front yard. But we were getting closer. We became internet home searching junkies. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, working with our agent on the telephone and via email and text. I saw so many houses and property options, I was starting to go a little crazy. It was zapping my energy. So we planned another trip to Greenville, to drive the neighborhoods and get a sense of where we’d be interested in living within the Greenville County area.
When we arrived at the office of our realtor, the amazing Jennifer Simms of Coldwell Banker Caine, there was an image of a very large home on the very large flat screen TV in her conference room. In fact, the home looked very much like a castle. My first thought was “Is she crazy? We said ‘downsize,’ not upsize to a castle.” Turns out the castle property was not intended for us, but for the client whom she met with before us. The castle was a ten-year old property that unfortunately had fallen into foreclosure. The bank was trying to sell it for $385K (original cost to build the house was approximately $1.0million). That’s a pretty good price for a castle, I thought.
After we left Jennifer’s office, my husband and I couldn’t stop talking about the castle. We joked about it, dreamed about it, and came up with different ideas of repurposing the castle. For example, it could be turned into a Bed & Breakfast, or a Business Conference Center, or maybe an Artist Community or School; or maybe even a drug rehab center for the rich and famous. The possibilities were endless.
Then we got curious. We wanted to see the inside of the castle, we wanted to walk the property. We wanted to know more about this “home.” I told my husband that living in a castle was not currently on my Bucket List, but I could add that item pretty easily. This was starting to become a serious consideration. Home Sweet Castle. It could possibly work, I thought.
Unfortunately, we were headed back to Connecticut the next morning and were not able to get an appointment with one of the bank-appointed agents who would show the property. That was a bummer…but we were able to walk around the grounds and garden. It was on a hill-top surrounded by ten acres, very close to our very favorite little town north of Greenville. We were enamored. We talked about the castle during the entire drive home – which took 14 hours!
On that long drive home, we made several phone calls. We connected with a mortgage broker and expedited the process of getting pre-qualified for a loan to put an offer on the castle. Yes- we were serious. It was crazy. It happened so fast. We started to really want that little castle.
Thankfully, we came to our senses after we saw the inspection report. This poor neglected castle property had taken a beating in the years of its owner’s financial hardship. Living in that castle was going to cost a lot more money. That would not work for us.
But we were now in motion to purchase a home in Greenville SC. We had lined up the resources and approvals, and were ready to make an offer on something…… when we found what we wanted. Within two weeks, my husband found an adorable two-year old craftsman style home for sale by owner, within walking distance to the town we adored. Because of our “castle moment” we were ready to act. And act we did.
It’s actually happening…
As I write this very long blog entry (I hope I’m not boring you with too much detail), there is a Sale Pending sign on the front yard of my home in Connecticut. If all goes well, our house will close on August 31 of this year and we will officially move to Greenville, SC. I’m busy decluttering, donating items to charity, giving things away on FreeCycle.org. In fact, we are calling this phase “The Great American Give-Away.” Because our new house is considerably smaller than our current house and property, we get to downsize our living style. We cannot take all of our “stuff.” And that feels so empowering.
I’m still working…
People ask me if I’m retiring. Heavens no, I tell them. I love my job way too much to stop working at it. I have reassured my Connecticut-based clients that I will continue to serve them. I’ll be coming back to Connecticut several times in the fourth quarter. Thankfully airports and technology enable small businesses to work with clients all over the US and world!
What’s the point of this story?
When you combine the imagination of Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it,” with the practical genius of Albert Einstein “Nothing happens until something moves,” you can make great things happen in your career, business, and life.
- If you think you might like a change in your life, start dreaming about it now. Create a vision board or dream book.
- When you determine what that dream looks like, set your goals. Declare it as your current climb.
- Create a plan of action for your current climb. Outline specific milestones along the way. Break down the big actions into little actions. Baby steps are still steps forward, however small and awkward they might feel at the time.. Find an accountability partner (family member, business coach, or friend).
I encourage you to take the leap forward that you’ve been dreaming about in your life.
Put your dreams into action. Put your decisions into motion. Begin today…