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What if the rest of your life were like the past few weeks? Or, why I’m moving after six years….

This is the last photo I took before leaving DC. Room 11 is home to many fond memories there.

This is the last photo I took before leaving DC. Room 11 is home to many fond memories there.

 

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

A question for you: if the rest of your life was like the past few weeks, would that be ok with you?The importance of this question is not immediately obvious, but think about it for a moment. For the vast majority of us, next week will be deceptively similar to this week, which again, was very similar to last week.

Sure, we wear different clothing as the seasons and styles change, periodically hop on a jet for a vacation, and our parties have different themes depending on the time of the year, but really, most weeks look deceptively similar to one another. You get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, rinse and repeat. If it’s the weekend you meet friends, watch TV, go on a hike, stay out late.

Solving problems requires action

Recently, I’ve realized that if the rest of my life were like the past few months, I wouldn’t be ok with that. When faced with a problem like this, I’m always tempted to try to think my way out of it, as though reading, reflecting, and careful analysis were the solution.

But really, 99% of the time, you can’t think yourself out of a problem. You have to act your way out of a problem. In other words, when you realize that something in your life isn’t working for you, you have to do something about it. In my case, I suspect that Washington, DC’s personality, is not a good fit for my personality.

Cities and towns, like people and families, have personalities. They have character traits and edges and preferences. The Washington, DC that I experienced over the past six years has:

  • An obsession with government, networking, and politics (no surprise there)
  • A transient population of well organized 20 and 30-somethings who have come here to change the world (I’ll miss that… well, not the transient part)
  • A strong work ethic
  • A refreshingly progressive approach to life at the community level
  • A surprisingly conservative approach to life at the individual level (I’ve been at house parties where 20-somethings spent more time passing out business cards than trying to get laid)

All of that fit well with me when I moved here at 23 but things that made Washington, DC perfect for me at 23, are the exact things that make it difficult for me at 29.

At 23 I needed time for intense focus as I built my business from the ground up. Out of necessity, I traded large chunks of my free time to spend more time working, something that many people in DC do every single day.

But now, it’s different. I no long value work as much as I used to (in part because I don’t have to) and prefer to spend my free time drinking black coffee with friends, reading and writing, and trying to feel the magic in the mundane. When I look around, I notice that most of the people I’ve grown to love in DC have moved out of the city. Of those that remain, I often have to make plans with them several weeks ahead of time. And when I search the bars and clubs and galleries and stages for something truly jarring and new and life affirming, I struggle to find it. And I get it. DC is button down and tie. I’m v-neck and jeans.

I want a group of friends that I see often. We’ll have dinner parties and play board games. I want a community of rebels who measure their success not by their power and economic bottom line (which matters, but only to a point), but by their overall happiness, freedom, and impact. I want to be able to wander into a bar or cafe, and be swept away by the energy.

Over the past year, I’ve tried to create that life for myself in DC, and failed. Part of that failure is probably my fault. I spent a lot of time on tour in 2014, though much less so in 2015. Even when I was here, I was frustrated by the need to schedule my social life weeks in advance, something that is just a part of living in Washington, DC.

So instead of accepting a life where I am comfortable but not content, I’ll set out on a new adventure. I’m grateful for my time here. I met two amazing girlfriends, worked side by side with advisors to President Obama, got closer to a few old friends while making a few new ones, and grew Ignited Leadership beyond my expectations.

But it’s time to go. Sometimes when you fall in love, you fall in love for life. I have a friend who met his now wife on the first day of college. I have no doubt that they’ll be together forever.

Other times though, you fall in love only to later notice that the texture and tenor of your feelings have changed and faded. We tend to think of those experiences as failures and time wasters, but I think to do that is to miss the point. Sometimes we need to form a relationship with a lover, a city, a lifestyle, a job, a friend so that they can help shape us and make us better versions of ourselves before we go back out into the world on our own. And that’s what DC was for me. DC is a city that has forever molded me into a better man, but will stunt my growth and vivacity if I stay.

Because when you can honestly answer, “If the rest of my life were like the past few weeks, I wouldn’t be ok with that” it’s a clear, clear, clear signal that it’s time for you to change, and change requires action.

What’s next?

I’m going to intentionally unmoor for a while as I recalibrate. I’m spending most of July in Ireland, and when I return to the US, I’m getting a car and driving around North America visiting friends I haven’t seen for a while. Along the way I’ll audition new places to live, and get an apartment when I find a place that feels right.

My friends ask me how I feel about all this. The honest answers: excited and terrified. On one hand, I know I need to leave. On the other hand, I am trading a fully functioning life here in DC for an unknown future.

I think that cross hair where the excitement outweighs the fear and you’re in your stretch zone, that’s a nice place to be. I think it’s a mark that you’re truly living while your alive, and that’s exactly what I aspire to do. So Washington, DC – thank you. I love you, I’m grateful for the role you played in my life, and now, it’s time for us to part ways.

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19 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “What if the rest of your life were like the past few weeks? Or, why I’m moving after six years….”

  1. Michael bordelon July 8, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    I hope you find a place in the sun that makes you happy , but for now spread your wings and fly my friend and say hello to the Irish for me good luck

    • Jason July 8, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Michael – your hope for me is exactly what I want. Delighted! I’ll find a four leaf clover for ya!

  2. James July 8, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Good read jason. excited to see where you end up.

    • Jason July 8, 2015 at 9:27 pm

      Thanks man! Actually, I’ll be passing through your way in a few weeks. Would love to grab a coffee and catch up after all these years. Or go on a (very slow) run…

  3. Annie Kip July 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Excellent, Jason. I am so glad to hear your thoughts and to see that you are able to “unmoor” and find something that feels worth mooring to. So many people are afraid of the unknown – not you! Enjoy the freedom you have and please be sure to keep us posted on your journey!

    • Jason July 8, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      Annie, thank you so much. For the sake of honesty, I am actually afraid of unmooring. Or at least I was before I made the decision for good. It took a lot of time to gather my courage. Once I did it though, it felt very right. I’ll be sure to keep you updated. 🙂

  4. Yogesh Koirala July 8, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Jason, I had attended lot of talks. But one name that I won’t forget is yours because you won’t let me. Your writings are great!

    • Jason July 8, 2015 at 9:18 pm

      Yogesh, thank you so much. You just made my evening.:)

  5. Peter Maribei July 8, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    From the description you have given of yourself, I have a feeling you would like Southern California. Just saying…

    • Jason July 8, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks, Peter. I have to say I went to San Diego about a year ago and REALLY loved the city. Your intuition is right, sir.

  6. Andrea July 9, 2015 at 1:07 am

    This made me tear up, so much I can relate to here… I truly think the world of you and wish you all the best on this new journey. And if you come through Montreal, we NEED to go out for a beer!

    • Jason July 9, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      Andrea – this comment made my night. Thank you. And I’m def going to be swinging through Montreal. Most likely in mid Aug. Looking forward to catching up then. 🙂

  7. Lisa July 16, 2015 at 3:49 am

    Have you thought about Athens, GA? I know it sounds totally random…and for the most part it is, but I have to say one of the reasons why I love it so much is for the amount of creativity that is here! Never a dull moment between the music scene, night life or day life, and what the state of GA has to offer. I’ve been working at the university now for 2 years and that’s usually when I get bored and want to move onto the next thing, but I’m stuck…still finding cool places to check out and interesting ppl to meet!! if it’s on your path-let me know and I can be a tour guide. Thanks for an AWESOME post…something I think about often!

    • Jason July 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

      Lisa – thanks so much for the tip and the kind words. I’ve never been to Athens before, but I have been toying with the idea of adding GA to the roadtrip (I’ve heard good things about Savannah, as well). If I make it down there, I’d love to have you as a tour guide. Thanks so much for the offer! 🙂

  8. Mark Taylor July 31, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Hey Jason,

    As always, thanks for the insightful article. It definitely takes a lot of courage and resolve to willfully remove yourself from a life situation that is known and comfortable, to a completely new situation. A question I have: Did your D.C. friends begin to act differently towards you after they found out you were going to move?

    I look forward to hearing about your journey through the US and beyond.

    • Jason July 31, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Thanks Mark. You know, you’re the first person to ask that question and it’s one I wondered a lot about myself. My friends reacted in two ways: Some got even closer to me. We hung out more, confided more, laughed more. That’s what happened with the majority of the people I was close to there. We savored the time we still had. The others pulled away. I get it. I think they were protecting themselves from the inevitable (and mutual) pain of separation.

      • Mark Taylor July 31, 2015 at 11:32 pm

        Thanks Jason,
        That was very helpful to hear. I’m moving from Golden CO to Portland OR around December, and I feel like I’ve noticed a slight difference in the behavior of some of my friends once they found out. I should understand and accept that it might be their way of separating.

        • Jason August 1, 2015 at 4:17 pm

          Congrats on your move! If it’s aligned with you, amazing things are going to happen…

          And glad it was helpful. 🙂

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