About 16 years ago, I had an aching in my heart.
After living in Indiana my entire life, I felt a magnetic calling to leave it all behind and pursue my dream life.
And for me, geographically speaking, that dream life was going to take place in California.
“Go West, young man”, as Horace Greeley said. And I intended to do just that.
In preparation for my exodus, I flew out to San Diego for four days of recon, you know, just to be sure.
Flying into San Diego from Indiana was surreal, especially in January.
It felt like a different country—leaving the blank frozen canvas of the Midwest for palm trees gently swaying in the breeze and the hypnotizing scent of salty ocean air teasing my nostrils.
Yes, I had arrived. Actually, it felt more like I had been teleported to a paradise, so unlike my homeland of Indiana.
I rented a car, got a cheap hotel, and spent the next four days soaking it all in.
And at the end of my brief visit, I was hooked, bound and determined to make my move!
Oh, and I guess it’s worth mentioning that I would have no job and no place to live once I’d make my arrival.
I was going to totally wing it.
It Always Takes Longer
Well, it took me a bit longer than expected (funny how that works) and about nine months later, I packed my SUV with as much shit as it would hold and began my trek.
Yes! Finally! After 32 years of living in a place that for whatever reason never really felt like home, I was embarking on a journey to create the life I’d always wanted.
The West Coast would be my oyster and we would live happily ever after.
The Time Will Never Be “Just Right”
Couple that with the very little money in my pocket, and my California Dream could easily have turned into a nightmare.
Thankfully, I had a friend who had a friend who had a couch.
And I was just lucky enough to crash on said couch for a couple of weeks to get my bearings.
Great! I made it out here; I’m crashing on a stranger’s couch…now what?
I’d better get a job, that’s what!
Well, I’d been a bartender for the past five years, so naturally I thought I’d easily get a great bartending job, and start making some fast money.
But…not so fast. In all my calculations, I’d just assumed tourism would be strong in such a beautiful destination.
I had moved to San Diego just a few short weeks after 9/11 and the tourism industry was mortally wounded.
After applying to just about every place I could imagine, I finally got a quick “street interview” with a local bar manager.
He said, “Look, Scott, you seem like a solid guy, and I need to level with you. I just had to lay off 30 percent of my staff. And when the economy improves, I’m bringing those people back.” He continued, “When it get’s even better, I’m gonna call guys like you…could be a while.”
Ugh. I felt defeated. But just as quickly as my mind processed the defeat, I immediately felt a swell of gratitude. “Awesome!!” At least, I knew to stop looking for a bartending gig!!
Time To Get Creative
The very next day, I whipped out the Yellow Pages (depending on your age you may have to Google it) and started cold-calling motorcycle dealers.
I had sold bikes in my early 20’s and was damn good at it. Although, I had come to California with the intention of continuing my bartending career, it obviously wasn’t going to happen.
I had to pivot, and fast.
Two Calls Away From A Career
I called a local bike shop and inquired about a sales job. The sales manager sounded cool, but quickly shared he didn’t have any openings.
“Hey man, like I said, we ain’t got nothing available right now, but you sound like a solid guy.”
He went on, “Call this other guy, I heard he might be looking for a salesman.”
So, within a few days I had a job, which meant I could stay in California.
So, What About You?
You may be at a similar crossroads, a fork in the road where deep inside you know—you just know—that what you’re doing, or where you’re doing it, or who you’re doing it with just “isn’t right.”
You know what? Trust that. Believe in your intuition, it’s powerful and accurate, and finely-tuned to direct you exactly where you need to be.
In the end, this is your life and your life alone. Sure, you may be married, and you may have a family.
This doesn’t mean by any stretch that you just walk away and selfishly discard everything, so you can run away to the circus. No, of course not.
But even with those responsibilities there are creative ways that you can “move to California” and start the process of stacking bricks that will eventually result in the life you’ve always wanted.
Take Action, No Matter How Small.
What’s your dream for your life?
When you close your eyes and deepen your breathing, what life do you envision for yourself?
Where are you living? Are you in the country or the city? The desert or the mountains?
North, South, East, or West?
Are you in the US or abroad?
What are you doing for work? And for fun?
Where do you work, or are you self-employed?
What hours do you work? Are you mostly indoors or outdoors? Are you working with your hands, mind, or both?
What are your hobbies and passions?
What brings you joy?
Grab a pen and paper and start sketching this out.
Maybe in words or maybe in pictures. Don’t filter it—just get it on the page.
The point here is to get crystal clear on who you are, who you want to be, and for you to start, even in a small way, living the life you’ve always imagined for yourself.
My friend, you, yes YOU, can (and should!) live the story your soul has been whispering to you.
Get quiet. Block out all the distractions and really listen. You’ll hear it.
Maybe just like me, you’ve always known that your soul has a deep desire for a certain region.
For me, that’s the West.
Maybe it’s because my grandfather loved the West, and he was a powerful model of adventure and living life on one’s own terms.
He taught me a lot, oftentimes, without saying a single word.
Do you have an aching in your heart? Have you lived your life in a location that doesn’t fit you, in a career that doesn’t suit you, in a body that doesn’t serve you?
Are you feeling a magnetic calling toward a life you secretly want for yourself?
It’s not too late. No, not at all.
It’s not too late to adjust the rudder. You can, today, redirect the ship of your life. Just push that rudder one degree.
I can assure you, one little degree will make an enormous difference as the miles add up.
Photo credit: Getty Images