Ah, moving. So much to do. So little time. Hopefully, you’re pretty psyched about your move, but maybe you need a quick pep talk. That’s what this blog is all about. After moving a ridiculous number of times, I’m here for you. I’ve learned that there is an art to happy moving, but it requires a sense of humor. Since you’ve convinced yourself that all you need is the 10 foot truck, you’ve clearly got a good one.
I’ve been a believer in the positive psychology movement before I even knew such a thing existed. It’s different than positive thinking. Positive thinking would be telling yourself: “Moving is awesome. I’m going to smile and all will be fabulous.” Positive psychology recognizes that, in real life, there’s the good and the bad. To make the most out of any experience, you focus on the happy times and find ways to deal with the not so happy times. You’re going to get a smattering of both throughout your move, so we’ll figure out how to make the best of it.
Figure Out 3 Reasons You’re Happy About Moving
Pick three (and only three) reasons why you’re excited about the move. Some possibilities to get you started: better commute, closer to/farther from family, career advancement opportunity, city with lots of things to do, great schools, proximity to nature, or improved weather conditions.
I recently heard Adam Grant speak about his book, Originals. He described studies that show people feel happier when they list three good things in their life instead of listing thirteen. With three you might say you are grateful for your family, friends, and health. When you start listing thirteen, you may be reaching for scraps. By the time you get to number thirteen, you might say “I’m grateful that the neighbor’s dog missed our lawn this morning.” With thirteen items on your list, you’ll start believing you’re not so happy after all. Instead you’ll think, “Really? That’s all I have to be happy about in my life?” Instead of thinking about a general gratitude list, come up with three reasons you’re happy to move. List three (and only three) reasons why this move will be a good thing for you.
My husband and I made our lists when we moved to Tennessee:
Focus On the Positives
You’ve got your list of three. Keep this list handy. Any time you are feeling overwhelmed, remember the reasons you are happy about the move. You’ll be at your wits end when you’re going through yet another junk drawer and all you want to do is throw everything into a box marked “miscellaneous”. Then the words “a better life for my children” will scroll over your head stock-ticker style and you’ll realize you can do this. I’ve done this enough times to know that three reasons may not hold you over through the entire moving process. Undoubtedly, you’re going to need some chocolate. This list of three is a good start, though.
Figure Out 13 Reasons You Don’t Want to Move
Now it’s time to focus on the negatives. Bust them all out. Give me thirteen reasons why you’re upset about your move. The opposite is true when you’re listing the bad stuff. If you only name three reasons you don’t want to move, you’ll end up focusing tons of energy on those things. Instead, let everything out. You may not want to move because you’ll miss your family or friends or you don’t think your new job will be as good as your old one. Coming up with thirteen reasons might be tough, but that’s the point. When you have a hard time thinking up thirteen horrible things, you’ll realize that it’s not that bad. Maybe your number thirteen is, “I’m upset about the move because I’ll miss going to the theater that plays old movies.” That was my number eleven when we were leaving California. In the scheme of things, it wasn’t that big of a deal. When you look at your list of thirteen, you’ll see that the move is manageable. You can deal with the things on your list.
Yes, many of my reasons for not wanting to leave Chicago revolved around food and I didn’t even get to the deep-dish pizza. At comparison time, it would’ve been tough to put Mexican food over my children’s futures. Tough, but not impossible. There’s no doubt that I would miss every item on my list, but I reminded myself I could always come back to visit. We could make a trip to Chicago (in summertime) and hit all of the hot spots. In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we moved to Knoxville. We made a trip back to Chicago, stayed in a hotel in our old neighborhood, and ate Indian, Mexican, and Potbelly’s to our heart’s content. We made it to the Air & Water show while also visiting old friends and neighbors. The major reason for not wanting to move was leaving our friends, but we knew that we could make new friends. We couldn’t argue with what we had waiting for us after our move: a great place to raise our kids, more financial freedom, better weather, and proximity to the Smoky Mountains. We’d just have to get Giordano’s pizza shipped to us.
Dealing with the Negatives
You can’t ignore the reasons you’re sad about moving. Once you know exactly what they are, you can come up with a plan to minimize the pain. For us, that meant planning a trip in the not too distant future and coming up with ways to keep in touch with friends. Your plan will depend on your thirteen reasons for not wanting to move. Dealing with the negatives is also where your sense of humor and this blog comes into play. Misery loves company. When people are moving, there’s no shortage of misery. With thirty-six million people moving annually in the U.S., you’ve just been invited to the biggest party of the year. Think of all the moving war stories you can share. You’ll be one-upping each other in no time. You’ll be so excited the shipping company held your car for ransom because it’ll give you some great material. You’ll laugh about it later. Trust me. I know. My car is still in therapy because of that one.
The Art of Happy Moving
You’ve got your list of three, that box of chocolates, and hopefully I can help, too. I’ll give tips on my blog about the logistics of moving because that stuff can be pretty important. At least for me, when I’m on top of the details, it makes everything easier. As you’ve probably already figured out, there’s so much more to moving than logistics. It’s an entirely different chapter in life. You’re starting all over and making new friends in an unknown place. If you have kids, you also need to help them through the transition. Each week I’ll cover an aspect of moving from logistics to making friends to living happily ever after. After ten moves in eleven years, I have plenty of crazy moving stories of my own, but you’ll also get to hear the stories of the many people I’ve interviewed on this topic. Their tough times will be covered in The Big Question section. You can see how others handled those difficult decisions like whether to move to the suburbs or how to handle a move after a divorce. I’m setting out to prove that there is such a thing as happy moving. It starts with focusing on the positives, minimizing the negatives, and being willing to laugh at all the insane times ahead.