After reading my fellow Account Strategist, Erica Dube’s, blog the other day, I started thinking about my own, almost opposite experience.
While she was adjusting to moving from Connecticut as IMPACT’s only remote employee, I was moving to Connecticut as IMPACT’s first employee to relocate for the company.
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I started reflecting on my experience and the things I’ve learned along the way. To pick up everything and take a chance on a new job cross-country is exciting and terrifying all at the same time -- but it taught me a lot of things.
Making the Big Move
My first day at IMPACT went a little something like this.
My alarm blared at 6:30am and I climbed out of my air mattress, being careful not to step on my sleeping pup next to me. (He only kicked me three times the previous night - a new record - and I looked forward to getting my bed back just to avoid his restlessness.)
Who can get mad at that face?
I grabbed some wrinkled clothes out of my suitcase and headed out, staring at my GPS more than the road to avoid getting lost.
Despite the last night’s lack of sleep, I was super excited. This is the moment I was waiting for.
I walked into my new office to warm greetings and was immediately invigorated with the idea of working with tons a smart people. On the other hand, I also felt slightly intimidated. I saw my new team, studied my new clients, noticed the dress code around the office, and kicked myself for packing the wrong things. My belongings weren’t set to arrive for another week!
I took a couple breaks to make sure the electric and oil bills were set up correctly (seriously...oil?) and everything was going smoothly for my house closing, and double checked that the moving company was still running on time.
Those first few weeks were filled with long days like this. Even when I left the office, I felt like I was never done working as when I got home, I still had quite a bit to do.
Combined with the fact that I missed my friends and family, it was definitely a challenging time, but what could I do?
I had two choices at this point:
1. Let the stress of a new job and a new environment get the best of me and go back home.
2. Choose not to fail by any means possible.
Since I’m writing this blog, you can guess I chose the latter.
Relocating for a job is a whirlwind experience filled with highs and lows, sometimes in the same day, but it’s an experience that I wouldn’t give up for one second.
I’m a Strategist for a living, so naturally I’ve devised some tips and strategies on how to improve my experience if I had the chance to go back and do it all over again.
The following is my best advice on how to not only transition to a new job, but a new home, and a completely new lifestyle.
Things may be stressful for you, but those around you don’t know it and they may not ever understand it unless they’ve had a similar experience. They are trying to get to know you, validate that they made the right decision in hiring you and are placing their confidence in you.
Be your friendly self, and let the personal stress stay at home. Your co-workers are who you will be leaning on the most in a job relocation, not just at work, but as friends.
Smile. Take time to chat in the kitchen and try to talk to as many people as you can, not just your immediate team.
2. Slow it down to speed it up
No, this isn’t just my advice to Connecticut drivers ;)
When I started at IMPACT, I wanted to prove myself as quickly as I could. I knew everything would be stressful, but I didn’t want to take the easy way out.
Quickly, taking on too much at once started to hinder my performance, and I realized I should have asked to slow things down.
When your role requires leadership and you don’t feel completely confident in what you’re doing, it’s okay to say it. I learned that over time, but I believe I would have onboarded faster in the end if I had incrementally taken on more responsibility rather than diving in head first.
3 days and 27 hours later, we made it!
This started before I even got to Connecticut.
During my last few months in Texas, I had about 6 weeks to finish my former job, work remotely for IMPACT for 3 weeks, and prepare for the big move. (My parents thought I was crazy for taking it all on.)
In that timeframe, I sold my house, packed everything, tried to say my proper “see you laters,” cancelled my bills, set up my new ones, bought a new car that would comfortably fit my 105 lb dog, husband and father-in-law who was helping us move, and drove 27 hours to a rental house I found on Craigslist.
It was a hectic time and mistakes were made. I even forgot to leave my old home’s water on for our final walk-through and almost messed up our closing!
That was way too much to take on while also starting a new job. Give yourself a couple months to go through that process. If I had even spread this out over 3 months, my personal stress would have been less and I would have been much faster in learning my new job.
3. Be grateful
It’s easy to fall into negative thinking when you’re taking a big risk like this, but what kept me sane and grounded me was taking the time to be grateful. I knew of IMPACT for a few years being in the inbound space and admired their work.
When I saw an opening, I jumped at it. To have actually been hired and given the opportunity for my family to expand its horizons is too incredible for me to find words to explain it.
When things were hard or when I felt lost or dumb during my transition, I always reminded myself of the amazing experience I was getting and the lightning speed at which I was growing.
Just remember, the more uncomfortable you are, the more you are changing and growing. You wouldn’t have gotten that staying where you were.
Our first real New England fall!
4. Explore your new surroundings (bonus points if you do so with co-workers!)
Considering I forgot to set up our new internet, we had no choice but to get out and explore our new town right away.
New England is very different than Houston, which is what made the move so appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Houston, but if we were going to make a change, go big or go home, right?
We found the grocery store (I miss HEB!), cute restaurants with patios you could sit on in August without feeling like you’re in a fiery hell, and other normal, everyday essentials that made Connecticut feel a little more like home.
Eventually we started hanging out with more of my co-workers and we all became friends. This eased the discomfort of not knowing anyone or our surroundings and things slowly started to fall into place.
5. Know things won’t go as planned, but they’ll work out.
The last tip is for those of you with a spouse. I wasn’t the only one giving up everything for this move. My wonderful husband took an even bigger risk than me, leaving his job without having one lined up here.
The Connecticut job market is much smaller than Houston’s and it’s been tough on one income, but he turned this frustrating aspect into a chance to go out and reach his dreams.
He went back to school for his EMT license and started with the volunteer firefighter department, two dreams he’s talked about since I met him 7 years ago. This wasn’t our original plan, but this tops what we ever had in mind. Now, we’ both are doing what we love.
Forget the haters. 99.9% of the people I know were very supportive and exciting, but I did hear a few negative or sarcastic comments along the way. Forget them and just do you.
Any tips for me?
I’ve only been here since last August, so I’m not done learning yet. What did I miss and what advice would you give to someone relocating for their job?