I introduced you to Steve and Sheila and their relocation decision in Should We Stay or Should We Go – Pt.1. Today I’ll go through parts of the decision-making process they used to make the decision to leave California. Millenials in their early 30’s, Steve and Sheila grew up near Irvine, California and most of their family and close friends live nearby. But the couple has now decided to move out-of-state to pursue lifestyle, career, personal and financial goals that seemed out of reach if they stayed near home.
Steve and Sheila did a lot of research and headed out on a month-long road trip to visit cities in three states where they would consider moving. They knew that in addition to their research, they needed to experience each city before they would consider a life changing move.
Before they left, I suggested reflecting on what question they were really trying to answer with this move (their decision question). The first question we talked about was – “Should we stay and build our lives in Irvine or move to a more affordable city?”
For any of you who have followed the blog, you might recognize that this would be a challenging question to start working on because it leads to so many more questions. Why wouldn’t you stay in Irvine? What does affordable mean? Where would you consider moving?
When we talked, we worked to reframe their question into – “Which location is most likely to meet our goals?” This question allowed them to include Irvine as an option to be compared to the other cities they were traveling to. We also talked about the importance of revisiting this question as they worked through the decision-making process.
Steve and Sheila also needed to create their end goals by talking about what was really important to them. With clearly defined and ranked goals, they would be able to better evaluate how each city met their goals.
They talked a lot about their goals* (with some details removed to protect their privacy) and created the following ranked list:
- Meet career and financial goals (Extremely important – EI)
- Have easy access to year-round outdoor activities (Extremely important – EI)
- Live in an “ideal” town (Very important – VI)
- Many options for entertainment (Important – I)
- Many opportunities for personal growth (Somewhat important – SI)
Steve and Sheila had many “sub-goals” or “means” goals listed under each of these end goals. For example – under “ideal” town, they identified specific characteristics about the size of the community they were interested in, the diversity of the population they were looking for, and the “pace” of life they wanted. The size, diversity and pace were the means to the end goal of the ideal place to live.
During their travels, we talked about their goals and I complimented them on the focused work they had done. Preventing “analysis paralysis” requires front-loading time and effort! I also reminded them that as they visited each city they may have new ideas to consider and that reflecting on their goals (and changing them if necessary) was incredibly important before making the final decision about moving.
The beauty of this decision-making process is that it is structured, but highly personal. And in the end, it is really just a framework that allows you to organize your feelings and your research in a way to help you make an informed decision.
The next step in the process is generating creative options. Steve and Sheila researched and chose a number of different cities to visit. I numbered the cities they visited (#1-7) on their results table rather than list the names of the cities. The only name I included was their “status quo” home city of Irvine.
In their results table below, HL stands for “Highly Likely”, L is for “Likely”, SL is for “Somewhat Likely” (they didn’t have any U for unlikely) in this table. You can also see that they added some excellent data about each location at the bottom of the table. Their results table is impressive! (You can open their tables to make them larger by right clicking on them and opening in a new tab.)
When I talked to them just after they returned, Steve and Sheila were still stressed about their decision. They liked a number of locations they visited and realized that their hometown of Irvine was probably not the best option to meet their long-term goals.
But now they had too many good options – and how should they choose?
We took time to review the table and I pointed out that their goal of “continue personal growth” was not helping in this decision. Each of their options was “highly likely” to meet their goal. They could remove this goal from the chart (since it wouldn’t help them make a decision) or they needed to re-visit the goal and be more specific to see if the cities really varied in how they met the goal. Steve and Sheila are very outgoing people and they knew that they could probably meet that goal in any place they chose – so it made it easy to remove that goal.
I also pointed out that lumping “career and financial goals” into one extremely important goal was probably creating a lack of balance in their chart. I suggested that they reflect on that goal and see if it made more sense to break that out into two different goals. I also reminded them that they might re-consider their rankings (level of importance they gave to each goal) if they broke the first goal into two goals rather than one.
Steve and Sheila realized that their first goal was “too big” and that they needed to re-visit that goal. They made it two different goals with specific sub-goals for each one. Since these are really their extremely important goals – they needed real clarity and putting them together didn’t signify how important each one really was. That created a real imbalance in their analysis.
Here is an updated chart after reflection on their goals:
They were able to eliminate City 5 and Irvine because both options were only “somewhat” likely to meet one of their extremely important goals. Irvine was too expensive (as they already knew) and City 5 was so small that they may have struggled to find work that met their financial goals.
City 7 was eliminated too. It had some interesting business opportunities, but they were not likely to meet their financial goals there either. It also was a larger metropolitan area – bigger than what they were really looking for.
Cities 3 and 4 had lots of “L’s” (likely) in the results table. City 3 was quite expensive and City 4 was known for very gloomy winters. These seemed like “OK” options but neither “rose to the top” of their list either – so 3 and 4 were eliminated too.
Steve and Sheila were left with Cities 1, 2 and 6 at this point. City 6 was likely to meet their extremely important objectives but they were still more confident in Cities 1 and 2 meeting those goals. City 6 was a “good” option, but they eventually eliminated that too.
It was down to City 1 and 2 and after reviewing the results table, they decided that City 1 was more likely to meet their financial goals (because of the jobs they would have access to) and it was in an area where they could easily enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities. City 2 was still a “better” option than most of the others, but they felt City 1 was the “best” option.
Steve and Sheila took a few months to prepare for their move and they are now at home in the northwest region of the United States! They’re almost 1,000 miles from their hometown in California. The couple decided to rent a furnished apartment through March of 2017 and they’re spending time getting to know and experience their new city.
*You might be wondering about their family and friends and their decision to leave. Steve and Sheila were feeling like buying a home near Irvine would really tie them to jobs with long hours and high stress where they would want to leave every chance they had to go on vacation. Their hope is now that with interesting and more flexible options for work or possible business adventures that they will actually be able to go home to Irvine and spend even more time with their families and friends. The time spent might “look” different but it probably wouldn’t be that much less time – or less quality time. They also have a great place now for family and friends to visit as well!
They have left their options open though! Through their decision-making process, Steve and Sheila learned that there were many awesome options available to them. If they give their new city time and it doesn’t feel like home, they can pack their bags and try out another city they visited (or new ones they find too!)
Although it’s important they continue to reflect on their goals over time, the end goals they determined are not that likely to change all that much. They’ve done the hard work – now it’s time to experience life in a new part of the country! And thanks again to “Steve & Sheila” for letting me share some of your story with readers!
Is anyone else out there looking to relocate? I love how they used the framework and added all the data to the bottom of each column to help them compare each location! We can always learn from each other!
Photo credit: xanthin@ freeimages.net