Quitting any job entails the seductive idea of the clean break: All the old problems disappear, and a new life begins.
Q: My husband and I work in high-paying jobs in the tech field in New York City. We are in our early 30s and want to prepare for a family. We are also exhausted by our jobs. So we want to take the drastic step of moving upstate to a small town near the Catskills, and abandoning our corporate careers. What are realistic job opportunities for us? How can we predictably make this decision not knowing how the transition will work out?
A: Quitting any job entails the seductive idea of the clean break: All the old problems disappear, and a new life begins. It’s such a lovely fantasy that you hate to cloud it with, you know, hard thinking and gritty research.
What you have in mind can surely be done. But it is important to approach it as a practical matter, not a magic trick. “I hate when people say, ‘We’re just going to take a leap of faith,’” said Jon Acuff, author of “Do Over: Make Today the First Day of Your New Career.” “Because that usually means: ‘We have no strategy.’”
So for starters, have you been spending time — weekends, at least — in the new, smaller community you have in mind? If not, that’s a good first step, partly to get a sense of what this change would really be like. Pay attention to what you may miss about the city life you’re looking to ditch. It’s important to practice big life changes before making them, Acuff said.
While you’re at it, investigate what work opportunities may be available by adding a dose of low-key professional fact-finding to your exploration. Think through the skills and relationships you’ve built over time, and how they may apply in this setting. Be imaginative but realistic.
Remember that your options may not be tied to your locale: As Acuff noted, telecommuting is far more common than it was a generation ago, and your background in the tech sector may mean there are opportunities to reposition your current skills for a remote gig (or set of gigs).
Either way, ask around and find people who are actually doing something close to what you have in mind (friends of friends, professional contacts, even people you’ve just heard about). Grill them about the pros and cons of what they did, and how they did it.
Finally — and this may be the biggest challenge of all — take a hard look at why you really want to take this step. Is it possible that simply finding more rewarding jobs where you are would address a lot of your frustrations? Talk through your expectations — about money, vacations, professional goals. Make sure you’re not avoiding disagreements now that will cause problems later.
None of which you means you can’t, or shouldn’t make this move. As Acuff points out, remote-work possibilities mean “it’s the greatest time in the history of mankind to do what they’re talking about.” But don’t just think about the situation you want to escape. Think about how you’ll achieve the situation you want.
Submit questions to Rob Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.