A Big Change
Note: I wrote this on 20130304 with the intention of starting a blog and keeping track of all my experiences. The good news is that I finally got my blog up…the bad is that it took me 5 months (well, it took me 3 days, but I didn’t start until almost 5 months after initially deciding to do it!)…and as I review my blog post, I notice that I procrastinated in it too! I’m sensing a theme :/
As I begin writing this I’m sitting in O’hare waiting on the next part of my life to start! It has been a long day. I went to bed at 1am EST after spending most of the day procrastinating by NOT packing up my life. I then set my alarm for 5am (but woke at 4am) at which point I continued consolidating everything I would take with me on a 9 month experience in Palo Alto.
So let’s step back a minute: I’ve spent my entire life in West Michigan. I was raised to be a good Dutch boy (I’m cheap…frugal if you like to dress things up a bit)…and I’m pretty proud of that fact. I’ve gotten some great deals on things, and I like great deals almost as much as Warren Buffett does! My roles at Steelcase have given me a broad base of both domestic and internal experience and have certainly broadened the way I look at business opportunities. Even though I’ve expressed interest at working within our innovation engine vs. our performance engine, it was still a shocker when I got an e-mail which asked if I’d be interested in moving to California for 6 to 9 months to launch a new venture! Almost exactly 3 months later, all my worldly possessions that I hold dear are packed and (hopefully) safely stowed in the belly of my plane.
- My camera and tripod: I love capturing photos. They’re priceless memories, and I find the process of creating a beautiful image to be cathartic
- My iDevices: iMac, iPad, iPhone(less about the devices themselves, and more because they provide and channel to the ever important digital-space that allows me to connect with friends and family)…plus access to the many epub books which I enjoy collecting
- My clothes…and I have a ton of them. Hopefully I brought everything I need.
This process has taught me one thing: I have SO MUCH CRAP! My house is still chalked full of stuff that I obviously won’t use for the next 9 months. And I’m only 26. Obviously this scary trend will only continue to grow. This is why I strive for small spaces. There’s a universal law that I think either Einstein or Jefferson or one of the other famous smart people that we quote when trying to prove how true our words are: the amount of stuff you have will ALWAYS expand to fill whatever space you have in which to put it. Moral of the story: don’t get lots of space.
This brings up the idea of collaborative consumption: a process whereby we use the things we need, but don’t actually acquire them. This is scary, but becoming more common place. Condos sort of bridge this gap by being a hybrid model. ZipCar (which I’ll be participating in for the next while) also follows this model. Think about your car and how often you use it. What percentage of the time do you use your vehicle? I spend about 15 minutes each way for work. That’s about 2.1% of the day. But I buy the car and pay the insurance for the full time. What if kitchens were the same way? Entertainment centers? Chairs? Couches? There are lots of business models that can sprout up around this, and I predict they will!
So let’s talk emotions: when I first learned about this opportunity, I was beyond excited! It was what I always wanted! It was certainly one of the reasons I wanted to work for a large company based in Grand Rapids: the opportunity to travel, but always get my trips back home paid for by coordinating them so as to mix business with pleasure. It has been lots of work prepping for this move…although it could have been lessened had I done a better job preparing ahead of time. But last week when I had my last dinner at my Dad’s house for a while with him, my step-mom, and my sister, I did tear up as I left. Then last night while I was packing I wondered why I had decided to do this in the first place. It certainly would have been easier to not change. I again teared up when I saw my brother and as he drove me to work.
But we don’t grow without change, and I do want to grow: as a person, as a man, as a human being. I want to accomplish amazing things, create something completely new, and revolutionize what it means to spend some time on this little blue globe in the midst of the vastness of this universe. And really, it’s only 2000 miles. And I’ll be back at least 3 times within the next 9 months.
People are bad at predicting their own happiness anyway: and people that I trust and respect say that this will be a fun, life-altering experience (I have more to say about this, but I’ll save it for another article)!