New horizons: How to move your life for your career

Main illustration: Kelly Carpenter

When we think of our dream career, and by extension our dream life, we rarely picture jumping into the unknown to attain it. We seldom imagine replacing the comfortable life we already have with an entirely new, unfamiliar environment. That is even more true when you have a family to think about, too.

And yet, just last year, that’s exactly what I found myself doing, moving my family and embarking on a new chapter of life with Intercom in Dublin. How did I know such upheaval would be worth it?

“It can be all too easy to fall into a trap of analysis paralysis”

The truth is, you can never be sure, but when faced with the opportunity to uproot your life and take an opportunity in a new city or new country, there is a lot to consider. It can be all too easy to fall into a trap of “analysis paralysis,” trying to weigh the upsides to staying put, the familiar status quo, with the unknown upsides of making the move.

A framework for moving your life

While it’s easy to be attracted to an impressive job title or a significant wage increase, ultimately, moving your life in such a fundamental way needs to be motivated by more than that.

In my experience, there are three key factors to consider, a simple framework for assessing whether the move will be worth it.

  • The professional challenges you will be facing in your new role – does it offer room for you to grow in a way your current job does not? How long will it realistically last for?
  • The company, its culture and above all its trajectory, and how it differs from your current situation.
  • The new city and especially the opportunities it presents for your family.

Consider these factors the three legs on the stool – without any one of them, it will fall over. Should I move my life for a new job?

In short then, the equation looks like this:

Opportunity of role x
trajectory of company x
appeal of location
= your answer

Of course, if you have a family to consider, this equation becomes far more complicated, and your partner’s answers to these questions will help determine the result.

How green is the grass

Most of us understand the phrase “the grass is always greener on the other side,” in that we all feel at some level the allure of that which is different over what we know and have right now.

Many of us may dream about embarking on new chapters in our life while never working up the courage to do so. But this framework can help you work up that courage as you assess the opportunities that come your way.

“Many of us may dream about embarking on new chapters in our life while never working up the courage to do so”

I moved my life for Intercom because the position I took presented so many challenges and growth opportunities (and to be honest I never imagined how challenging it could be 😅).

I moved my life for Intercom because I deeply related to Intercom’s values and mission – making internet business personal. I wanted to be part of the amazing team of people who execute Intercom’s vision.

I moved my life for Intercom because I wanted my family and myself to experience life in a different place, and Dublin is one of the most welcoming, multicultural and beautiful cities to live in. My kids are at school, learning new languages, new cultures and are making new friends. Everything is new and exciting for us, our horizons are broadening, our world is expanding.

Opening a new chapter

Beyond the new possibilities I am experiencing at work, the move itself is a new life skill – as a family, we are building up a new network, developing a new sense of home, and that will stand to us in future.

“On the one hand, time seems to have slowed down; on the other hand, time also flies like crazy”

That excitement, that newness, has also created a bizarre appreciation of time that I could not have predicted. On the one hand, time seems to have slowed down – I have become more aware of the passing of every day, week and month as I adjust to our new life and absorb everything that is novel and unusual. On the other hand, time also flies like crazy – I cannot believe I am here for nearly a year now.

This is not to say I don’t miss home, or that there hasn’t been moments where my family and I haven’t missed the familiar patterns of life that we were used to. It’s natural, and in a sense, it’s also valuable – it’s part of the experience, part of our growth, as a family and as individuals.

Moving your life is a huge thing to do – a massive, life-changing decision that will shape your future in all sorts of ways you can’t predict. So make sure you do it for the right reasons – I know I did.

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