Last summer I sat down and asked myself… if I could redesign my life, how would I change it? As noted computer scientist Alan Kay once wrote “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
The idea was inspired, in part, by an article that my friend Renée Rouleau suggested to me: “Staying Is Settling: Why You Need To Move At Least 5 Times In Your Life.” It is about having the strength and courage to break old bonds and move out of one’s comfort zone to have the chance to create an even more fulfilling and interesting life. The article perceptively notes:
“Whether it’s a new apartment or a new city, starting over isn’t about changing your scene, but the way you’re living in it. It’s about opening your eyes again, walking to the ledge and looking up, down and across, once again comprehending the vastness of life that sits openly waiting for you.”
So I decided to take a break from blogging about the Domino Principles while I focused for a bit on living them instead.
Often we live a life that society thrusts upon us. Where we live is often determined by family history or work necessity. I grew up in West Los Angeles because my parents lived there, moved to the Boston area for grad school when I decided that I wanted to study at M.I.T. Since completing my Ph.D., I have lived in Houston for the past 28 years, initially to work in the space program, and then to raise a daughter and build several companies there.
For many of us, technology now brings a kind of geographic freedom never before realized. One no longer needs to be retired to pick and choose where they live. Fifteen years ago, when my daughter was quite young, I made a deliberate decision to design my business I was involved in at the time to enable myself to run it from home, needing no more than a laptop and an Internet connection. I worked many hours (and still do) but at least I got to spend quality time with her just about each and every day as she grew up.
Today, I still work from my laptop wherever my home life or travel takes me, and my employees work from home as well. I need cell and Internet access, and to be reasonably close to a major US airport to make it easy to go speak to business or entrepreneurial groups about how the Domino Principles can transform their lives, but aside from those requirements, my work places no geographic constraints on me.
The past few years have been full of a great deal of transition in both my personal and business life. Domino Principle #4 : Distress Potential tells us that such periods are often the best and most fruitful times to open the door to exceptional opportunities for growth and positive change.
I asked myself… if I could change everything, what kind of lifestyle would I like to live, and where in the world could I best live it? What dominoes would I have to line up to get me from where I am now to where I want to be?
I laid out a concrete set of objectives to guide my search for my next home port:
- To be able to work from my laptop at times and places of my choosing, with a home base in the continental United States, away from the crime and smog and traffic of the big city, yet close enough to civilization such that things like good restaurants and hospitals are still nearby.
- To have the ability to step out my door and take my morning runs on the beach instead of on concrete, and perhaps share beautiful sunsets over the ocean with someone special, and to look up at the night sky and see it filled with stars.
- To enjoy the peace and quiet I’d need to make progress on the two books I’m working on writing.
- To have easy access to what I’d need to prepare farm-to-table cuisine on a daily basis.
- To live somewhere with a consistent temperate climate, low humidity, and to be within reasonable driving distance of big cities with good art, music and theatre scenes.
- To be close to places where I can enjoy the outdoor activities I love the most: scuba, tennis, trekking on snow-topped mountains, skiing, surfing, visiting vineyards and scenic national parks.
- To have opportunities to give back to my community and have outlets for using my talents to create a better world for future generations.
All these factors set a compass that pointed me in one definitive direction. One that looks like this:
So I lined up the dominoes. With a healthy dose of faith, hard work, ingenuity, patience, tenacity, perseverance, and serendipity, and a good bit of support from some awesome friends, over the past few months I knocked them over. And as they have fallen into place, the cascading spiral has turned my dreams into reality.
On January 1, 2016, I started the new year by flying out to San Luis Obispo (SLO) on the Central California coast, to check out how my research matched reality, and to look at houses (see my photos from that trip). I fell in love with the majestic beauty of the area and the friendly people, and with one house in particular, located in a beach-side community just west of SLO.
Today I moved into that absolutely lovely house… an open airy home design full of sunshine, with cathedral ceilings and windows everywhere, a huge landscaped floral garden in my backyard, a couple of tennis courts, and plenty of room for visiting friends. A home that provides a doorway to a lifestyle that is worth all the hard work and sacrifices that made achieving it possible.
This move is the first step in a much larger ten year vision I’ve laid out for my future.
Will everything I’ve planned for the next ten years come to fruition? It is unlikely. The odds are that I’ll change my plan at least twenty times over that period. There will surely be glorious victories and heart-breaking setbacks along the way. The important thing is having dreams that make life worth living, and then taking control of your future by lining up the dominoes and applying yourself with everything you have to make your dreams come true. As Joni Mitchell sang in “Circle Game” (see the video below)… “There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams, and plenty, before the last revolving year is through.”
Domino Principle #2: Determined Proactivism, tells us that we must continually strive to be a cause of the future rather than a result of the past.
Domino Principle #3: Dance Passionately, tells us that we must never stop dreaming of a better world, working to bring our dreams to fruition, and celebrating the gifts we already have in our life today.
Remember that the world is an amazing place and every experience we have brings us closer to having in our lives every single thing we ever dreamed of. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Mix it up a bit, risk being hurt and give yourself the freedom to fly.
As Fall Out Boy so melodically noted (with a bit of help from The Munsters)… if you are willing to dance passionately (like Uma Thurman — see the video below), then you can move mountains and work miracles!
My next adventure is just around the corner. I count my blessings, and my dominoes, each and every day.
Yeah, dominoes, bitch!
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