“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Knute Rockne or maybe Joseph Kennedy
In September 2021 we decided to sell our home in Oakland CA and buy a house in Rhode Island, with goal of renting in Santa Cruz for winter waves as we age. My wife Melanie and I have been renting in Maine and RI for about 20 summers, and we thought changing it up for our third Act would be good. We wanted to be closer to east coast family, so we started clearing out home of 22 years filled with so many memories and things.
Literally thousands of pounds of stuff got donated, tossed out, or sold. Then we got a realtor who said February would be best time to list the house in the Oakland Hills, so we started plan to move out in early January 2022, find a rental in Rhode Island, with hopes of selling our house quickly, and then buying a house near the places Melanie grew up.
Sounds easy enough, but tough to execute those changes. Relocating cross country is about as big a change as having a kid or making a fundamental pivot in the focus of your startup.
We got busy and found a rental, moved out, listed the house, sold the house, and then found a new house to buy. I also researched a new mobile surf condo, and then sold my dear Van Dzl in March. So in about half year, we changed all the fundamentals: our home and mobile surf condo, the coast where we reside, and the approach to renting in Winter instead of Summer by moving to Rhode Island and renting in Santa Cruz, CA.
I write this post to share my perspective of making BIG and FUNDAMENTAL changes at this stage of life. Our boy had graduated college and is on his own financially, so we are empty nesters, and I am a soul surfer, as well as Digital Business Coach. I’ve also started teaching about flow and problem solving in STEAM and Surf with the Drop In Coalition charity, where we teach underserved kids about the Science of Nature.
Like we teach those kids, I’ve learned that my heart and mind are happiest living in daily flow. I was lucky to find that flow early in life. Age 15 I discovered both computers and wilderness. Then learning to surf age 40, with decades of technology work to keep my mind solving problems along the way. Still, I did not realize how much challenge my heart would feel in moving from CA to RI, but like the characters in “Who Moved My Cheese?” I have since discovered a huge pile of surf beaches on the other side, along with the benefits of family living nearby.
The going was tough, but we kept going. We didn’t have much inventory to select from, but we found a beautiful home we are renovating, and we started connecting to old friends (we both grew up in New England). The first blizzard was an eye opener (especially when the car was completely buried), but now Spring is in the air along with daffodils and sounds of birds. The Ocean State is now popping, and I’ve discovered how good modern surf gear is for winter waves. NOTE: Modern technology is a secret weapon, and so are family and friends.
We are now on the other side of these big and fundamental changes, enjoying present and future more than struggling to get through. Excited for adventure in our new home state, as well as across the United States in our new mobile home. As we approach and start this third 3rd of life span, I am thrilled and humbled by how hard it was to get here.
Lessons learned are to define and get support needed for your dreams. That could be your Board of Directors at work or your close group of advisory friends: then make the game plan starting with the end in mind, and always to keep on the path by going forward when it is hard. This start with the end in mind attitude is true in personal life, and it is true in business. The changes we did for our home and family are not unlike tough changes a startup makes when pivoting from one business focus to another, or the digital transformation work a larger firm does to implement new business models.
It is about strategy, then structure, then people with grit required to execute, whether you are reengineering a life or a corporation. They are BIG and FUNDAMENAL changes, but having a clear vision, a realistic implementation plan, and the grit required for execution and implementation will support the transition. This lesson learned is true for a team in a home and any team at work. Some changes are harder than others, but if you have the right team, if you are following your dream and driven by passion and love for the work, then all the hard work is realized into great satisfaction.
Like Henry Miller said, keep an open mind because “What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind”, and remember “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”