I’ve been working in Santa Barbara this week. I have to admit; they have some beautiful beaches! We woke up early this morning to catch the sunrise, and it was worth it. That’s my photo above.
I know that many of the people living here make sacrifices to enjoy the amazing location and lifestyle. It’s not easy or affordable to be here. But, for them, it is worth it to wake up and see this view every day.
Having the freedom to decide where you live is one of the most significant factors determining your lifestyle and happiness.
You should be able to live where you genuinely enjoy your quality of life. I don’t mean just telling yourself that you do because you have no other choice.
I’m familiar with that sweet lie. I muttered it to myself every evening during my 2-hour commute home from work.
“I love living here. It’s worth the commute. It will all be ok someday.”
Where would you live?
Many people live somewhere that they don’t really want to be because that’s where their job is. It’s where the employers are for their chosen profession. So, they feel like they have no choice.
Deep down inside, they know that they don’t enjoy living there. But, they fear that they’d be out of work if they moved away. Or, at least it would be exceedingly difficult to find a new job that fully leveraged their professional experience and met their income expectations.
If money wasn’t an issue and you were free to live where and how you please, where would you choose to live? Would it be where you are right now?
If so, that’s fantastic! If not, how much longer will you wait to be where you want to be?
I lived where I had to live
When I moved to the Bay Area of California for my first Tech job, I fell in love with the place. The energy of Silicon Valley was addictive, and I remember this feeling of promise in the air.
Plus, the region was incredibly vibrant too. In less than 30 mins, you could be on the beach in Santa Cruz. In a few hours, you could be enjoying the snow up by Lake Tahoe. San Francisco was only about an hour away, and the Muir Woods was just on the other side of the bridge. It is a beautiful place, in many respects.
So, it was even more exciting that the center of the tech employment universe was in the Bay Area as well. Everything was great for so many years, until one day it wasn’t. Slowly but surely, I had to admit that much of what I fell in love with was fading away.
The pursuit of cutting-edge technology and dreaming up amazing solutions that changed people’s lives had mutated into the pursuit of wealth. Everyone wanted to be the next millionaire or billionaire. The talk was always about stock options, vesting schedules, raising VC money, and complaining that their Tesla delivery was late.
The fun experiences in the Bay Area became harder and harder to enjoy too. Congested freeways turned a trip to the beach into a nightmare.
I gave up visiting the City. Ski trips became few and far between. There were weekends that we decided that it wasn’t worth leaving the house to fight traffic, where we would end up sitting on the freeway for hours.
I finally snapped
I used to think that it would be ok to retire where I wanted to live and put off my happiness for the future. But, I learned that there are no guarantees in life.
Friends and loved ones have died — way too young — from accidents, cancer, and heart disease. I had a health scare several years ago, which served as a wake-up call.
Several years ago, I wrote a story about how I snapped during a horrible commute home one evening. I finally decided that I’d had enough of that lifestyle.
That evening, I calculated how much time I had spent on the freeway during the years of my corporate career. I also estimated how much more time I would likely spend commuting until I retired.
It was horrifying. I spent over 625 hours a year on my commute when I finally left my corporate job behind. That doesn’t seem possible, does it? But, it’s true.
The discovery I made was one of the biggest reasons that I decided to start my own company. It certainly wasn’t the only reason, but life is too short to waste on something you don’t find fulfilling.
Yes, a job is a job, and it pays the bills. But, I drew the line where that job and commute were damaging my health and forcing me to live somewhere that destroyed my quality of life.
I could no longer pretend that it was ok. I had to admit that I was trapped and needed to plan my escape.
You deserve to love where you live
You should be able to live where you will enjoy your quality of life. We all deserve a life that we enjoy right now, not in our 70s or 80s.
I don’t mean that you only enjoy the weekends, either. That’s ridiculous and another sweet lie that we tolerate.
“Hey, I have so much fun on the weekend that it makes my miserable Monday through Friday life tolerable!”
You can’t consider career success in isolation from your personal life. There are times that you do make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. I’ve done that many times. We all have.
But, that sacrifice must have a time limit.
Where you live and how you spend your time outside of work have a massive impact on your happiness. Money can solve some problems. But it isn’t the solution to everything.
Much of what creates meaningful and lasting joy in life can’t be purchased. Ironically, the things that you buy may unexpectedly end up adding to your unhappiness.
For long-term career success and lasting happiness, it’s essential that you’re able to find work — or create your own business — and live where you want to live. Life is too short to tolerate anything else for very long.
One of the most significant benefits of creating an Invincible Career is getting to choose where your home is. No one can force you to live somewhere that you don’t want to be.
You are in-demand and in control. You structure your work and life so that you can make a good living somewhere you’ve always dreamed of spending the rest of your days.
Take some time to visualize this future for yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it can only happen after retirement.
If you had complete control over your lifestyle, where would you be living right now? Share your dream location in the comments, if you’d like.
I would love to hear your dreams about the ideal place for your next home. Then, let’s talk about a plan to get you there as soon as possible!
This week’s professional development challenge
⭐ Create Your Plans for the Year
A plan helps you prioritize and focus on the activities and tasks you believe will help you achieve a goal. It also helps you manage your time more effectively.
Larry Cornett is a leadership coach and business advisor who runs a supportive online community. He lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice that can help others take full control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.