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when something huge doesn't happen
November 6th, 2013     |    Business Advice

WhenSomethingHugeDoesntHappenFor the last four days Mr. Lively and I were in Seattle, but I didn’t mention the reason for the trip.

We were there exploring a job opportunity for Mr. Lively.

It all started a few weeks ago when Seattle, a city I never really thought that much about, suddenly became a possible new home for our little family. Rather than dread the idea of leaving my beloved Chicago, I was energized by the idea of moving somewhere totally new.

Without any explanation I was instantly set on moving to the city. And once we explored the awesome haunts that you all mentioned this weekend, I was more convinced than ever that a life-changing move to the PNW was exactly what we needed.

However, last night we found out that will not be happening. Instead of moving, we will be staying in Chicago and Mr. Lively will work at an awesome web company locally.

Overall, this is great news. Mr. Lively will most likely enjoy the new Chicago position more than the Seattle opportunity, and we will avoid a ton of stress that comes with moving across the country during the holidays.

However, I’m honestly still coming to terms with the fact that we are staying.

During the weeks leading up to this trip, I took my unexplainable enthusiasm to move to Seattle as a sign that it was “meant to be.” So I began to mentally and emotionally remove myself from Chicago. I was scouring Craigslist for rental homes in Seattle and was figuring out how I would restructure my career with such a blank slate.

I reveled in the idea of cutting ties with all that I’m familiar with and start fresh. I wanted to make bold moves in my career that seemed daunting to make in my current life situation. Moving was the perfect opportunity excuse to make dramatic changes.

But today I find myself sitting in the exact same chair, in the exact same room, doing the exact same thing I did last week – when I thought I would be searching for a new place to live and writing this post as a moving announcement.

It is a surreal feeling to say the least. One which I am completely responsible for creating. I didn’t need to put that much weight on a possible move before I knew all the facts.

Now, I have two options. 1) Keep things as they were before. Or, 2)  Change the things in my life and career that I wanted to change in Seattle, here in Chicago.

Rather than lean on a dramatic move to spur changes, it is up to me to either keep the status quo, or make those shifts within my daily life (which feels infinitely harder).

We expect for things to be challenging and different when something dramatic happens. But what if it doesn’t?

What if we have to face the challenges and changes right where we are

I think this situation is one that many people can relate to. We might dream of big, bold changes to help us ascend to a new level personally. But there are many times (perhaps most times actually) when dramatic shifts must occur within a stable environment – when it might not be as simple or easy to cut free of what has been holding us back.

It is far less glamorous to “stay put” and change. It may even require us to disconnect or disappoint people in our lives.

But we always have the power to step outside of our comfort zone within a stable life situation.

Though it might be tempting to think otherwise, we don’t need to rely on external changes in order shift internally.

We can be bold right where we are.



May something wonderful happen to you today,



Thinking about doing a Life with Intention session with me?

Working with Jess has been a truly amazing experience. Having worked with her before at the Boston Life With Intention Workshop, I knew a one on one with Jess was going to be fantastic, but this truly exceeded my expectations.

She gave me the space to explore the areas of my life that needed attention, and took the time to really listen to everything I had to say. On top of that, her advice and suggestions all easily fit in to my every day life. She has given me so many invaluable tools to approach a life with intention.

If you’re thinking about working with Jess, I can’t recommend her highly enough!

Sheerley Z.



Reader Spotlight 

I run a Pilates business that I have taken online to train, coach and support women as they work toward their health and fitness goals. I run online programs that can be done from anywhere in the world and am passionate about changing the way women look at dieting and exercise.
Robin Long, The Balanced Life

  • Wow – what an insight Jess. A someone who has moved a lot in my life, a fresh start is always so appealing. You’ve hit the nail on the head with conscious decision of making those changes even without the dramatic external upheaval. I need to do this more as well.
    Wishing you and Mr Lively a fabulous ‘stay put fresh start’ in Chicago. xx

  • Thank you, Katie. It has helped a ton knowing that other people have gone through this. It is almost amazing to see how universal this urge for dramatic change can be!

  • : ) Wonderful!!

  • Thank you, Serena! You hit the nail on the head, I need to look at this like a stay put fresh start. : )

  • So true! I’ve survived 20+ moves (several of which were out of state) and it’s definitely affected my mindset in a similar way. I’ve grown so used to working with a blank slate that it’s hard for me to hit reset without the excuse of a move. It’s nice to have a reminder that such things are possible even without a big life change. And selfishly, I’m glad the neighborhood isn’t losing you! 🙂

  • Nicole

    Look at that gorgeous couple at the Falls! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip (and Ballard), but sorry to hear about the disappointment over the job/move not working out. It’s such a blow when we get our heart set on something and start setting even just our minds in motion. Yet as always, you dug deep and found the lesson – and not only are you putting it to good use in your life, but you’re sharing it here with others.

    I know that sometimes it almost “solidifies” big inner-world changes when I shift my “outside” as well (home, city, etc.), but those things certainly needn’t go hand-in-hand. And I know several people who have shifted the outside without a corresponding “inside” shift, and then felt disappointed when they find that they haven’t moved forward/evolved in the way they expected. So thank you for articulating that what matters is the inner shift. As you note, it may seem less glamorous because there’s no (or little) tangible representation to others in our lives but as you pointed out in your Daily Love post (congrats, BTW!!!!), looking outside ourselves is an empty, exhaustive, and fleeting search.

    I can’t wait to see the changes you bring forth from your lovely spot in fabulous Chicago – cheering you on, girl! 🙂

  • Melissa

    Thanks, lady! You’re truly inspiring!

  • Kaly Sullivan

    I’ve totally been there! Two years ago my husband was interviewing for a job in a different city and I went all in looking into real estate, school for our kids, finding Trader Joe’s….but it didn’t work out and I was crushed. I saw it as the perfect escape route from a job that I didn’t want anymore and a current geographic location that I was lukewarm to. When he didn’t get the job, I decided that I shouldn’t have to uproot my family to have the life I want. I quit my job. I re-prioritized everything and felt 100% better. In that same location. Then about a year later he got another invitation to interview for a different job in the same city. We promised each other NOT to get so emotionally invested – no internet research at all. And of course he got the job and, we decided it would be a huge improvement on quality of life – for all of us. So we moved and we’ve never been happier. We all needed a reset. But looking back I’m glad we didn’t move the first go around…it wasn’t the right time or opportunity.

  • Pingback: look at the choices you have | Jess Lively()

  • Wow, 20+ moves! I can imagine that you never really need to reset yourself in your current situation since the moves seem to happen so frequently. But yes, it is possible to do without a big change (it just might seem a little harder and less glamorous).

  • Thank you for sharing your story! As you know, this is exactly what I’m facing and I love knowing that you were able to make those bigger changes at home.

    Did part of your ‘fresh start’ involve ending some friendships by any chance? I think that part is what is giving me the most difficulty as I imagine how to navigate that part which would have been much easier if we just moved away. Any recommendations you have on this side of things would be greatly appreciated!

  • Thank you so much, Nicole. Seriously. I read your comment last night and it made me smile. I appreciate everything you said!

  • Kaly Sullivan

    Yes. And no. I wasn’t really in the position to end friendships because of other circumstances (kids, husband) that made it a little complicated. But, I was able to distance myself from relationships that did not serve me anymore. I had been through a significant life transition leaving my job and doing some really deep and intensive personal work. And that did not go over so well with some friends that wanted to keep me in the role I had always previously played. So I had to take a step back from those relationships so I could focus on my relationship with myself. There was never a confrontation or a sit down to discuss. It was more of an evolution over time. I would be lying if I said moving didn’t make that distance easier! It definitely did. Hope that helps. Feel free to email me directly

  • Lesli Scott

    I could literally feel your energy go up, and then down, and then up again during your post! For me, I’m lucky because I change gears every few weeks between Toronto and NYC. I am a ‘change-craver’ as well, and the change in location helps me in many ways. It consistently sets imminent deadlines (get this done before I go back to NYC!). It creates natural opportunities to set up get togethers with friends/colleagues/business leads (I’m in the city, let’s meet up!”). If my situation ever changes, and I remain in one city full time, I think having the discipline to set deadlines and meetings will be much more challenging, because the sense of urgency with gone. Like you said though, the trick is to take ownership of your goals, and push yourself, without relying on external circumstances! Thanks for your honesty and insight, as always Jess 🙂

  • Thank you so much, Kaly. I really appreciate you taking the time to share that with me. I think that the time factor might help, like you mentioned. It’s also nice to know you didn’t actually have to sit down and talk about it directly.

  • Exactly! I think I am very similar to you and would like that kind of forced structure. Now that it won’t be happening in the way I thought it would… I gotta find a way to do it from within. (But I won’t say that I’m not a little envious of your moving schedule!)

  • Sometimes I think it’s just so romantic imagining a future self. I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, it’s nice to imagine our potential selves. But you hit the nail on the head that staying put shouldn’t mean not taking parts of those future selves now.

    I did a similar thing – we’re planning on moving away from Chicago at some point, but because I run a photography business, I need to be thinking a little over a year ahead. I realized at some point that I was living in the future, in where we would be, and then we put off the move a year for job reasons. It felt like a death sentence at first – like, another year living this way? – but then I realized that more than that, it’s permission to start really living in Chicago again. I’m still thinking ahead, but I’m also letting myself settle here a bit. The things I thought of as “too permanent” when we’re planning a move are so silly – redecorating the apartment? Adding business improvements? All things that travel well, staying put is no excuse for not investing in yourself.

  • Sheerley

    What I think is so great about your situation (hear me out…) is that by fantasizing about what your “new” life would be like, you came face to face with hopes, dreams, and a desire to start fresh that you may not have realized or been willing to acknowledge you had. And now you have a huge opportunity to challenge yourself to, as you say, be bold, right where you are. By removing the “safety net” of being completely anonymous in a new city, you’re presented with the chance to not only make bold moves in Chicago, but also to consider how those changes seemed more doable by leaving your current situation. The answers to those questions could lead you to some amazing places, and might even help put a future move in perspective too. So exciting, and I know you’re completely up to the task!

    I also absolutely do this too, by the way. Every time I travel to a city that seems like a great place (hint: Chicago), I think to myself, “I could totally live here” and start researching apartments on craigslist (usually while I’m still on vacation!). It’s distressing in the moment to know that a move isn’t on the immediate horizon, but it helps to take a step back and think about why I like this new place, what I’m trying to escape about my current situation, and what my true reasons are behind wanting a change of scene.

  • Lesli Scott

    There’s also the option for you to create your own moving schedule, just cause. It may be crazy, but maybe NYC needs to see more of Jess Lively?? You could work out of!!! Ok, I’m going to stop now. Getting a little too excited, lol.

  • Lol! Thanks for the vote to move to NYC. : )

    With Mr. Lively’s new job, I don’t think that will be an option any time soon (though we do dream of working for a month in wine country one day).

  • Great point, Anni. Yes, the power of visioning is really great, and you are right, this idea of a fresh start let me see the progress I’d really like to make and which pieces can be done here in Chicago, should be executed on.

    “All things that travel well, staying put is no excuse for not investing in yourself.” Well said!

  • Perfectly summarized, Sheerley. That is exactly where I am at and what I am face to face with. After reading comments like yours and the rest that have come in, I am feeling more and more excited to start getting to work right where I am.

    : ) Thank you!

  • Hi Jess – Selfishly, I wish you were moving to Seattle so we could meet up for coffee. 🙂 Gosh, I so get this post! I remember working in different full-time jobs that I wasn’t happy with and thinking, man, if I could just get laid off, then I could do this, this, or this. It’s so much easier to make big changes when we don’t have a choice. Good for you for making changes from where you are. xo

  • Thanks, Melanie! I know, it is so tempting to want to just have the excuse to change, right? I suppose life has other plans for me. Thankfully, I’m getting more comfortable with making the changes here and seeing that the Seattle idea really just helped me recognize all of the changes I wanted to make in my life in general — which is a good thing. : )

  • Lust Creative

    Oh what I wonderful post Jess! Thank you so much for sharing and being so honest. I can 110% relate to needing something to happen first; waiting for something ‘else’ to be the cause for me to take action or for change. I sometimes still do this and then other times I stop and think “No. I’m doing it. Now”. I loved reading this. Hearing what others are going through always inspires and reminds me to live in the now.
    Ashleigh xxoo

  • Thank you for sharing, Ashleigh. It has been so helpful for me too, to find out that other people struggle with this as well.

    Right now I am starting to take the actions I planned to in Seattle. It is more difficult to change them than it might have been after moving. But now I am no longer waiting for a moving truck to pack things up in order to do something today that I am capable of doing.

    Here’s to change in the now!

  • I’m trying to make some big changes in my own personal life while staying in the same spot, but I agree that it’s much easier to do so when you make a physical move. It takes a lot more INTENTION to change when your surroundings stay the same. I hope you can purpose to make the changes that you want in your life a reality.
    <3 Anna

  • Totally agreed, Anna! I have been working on the changes I wanted to make and it feels kind of like turning a freighter. I think it is much harder to shift our habits in our environment rather than letting our environment shift our habits.

    Today I made the biggest shift and already I feel much lighter – though getting there was tough.













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