Maybe it was the Dixie Chicks singing in your Walkman when you were in middle school, reminding you that there are wide open spaces out there, room to make your big mistakes. Perhaps that’s what ignited a stirring within you to go, see and do all of the things that push you outside of your comfort zone and away from the confines of your hometown.
Or, maybe this has been more of a slow-growing burn, only recently catching flame as you watch others around you run off to chase their dreams in the big city, out in the country, or in a research lab halfway around the world. Could that be you? You want it to be, but you aren’t sure if you’re ready to leave the familiar for the uncertain and unexpected. If this sounds like you, read on. Today, we’re discussing five signs that you’re ready to make that major life change, to set out on your own and explore new territories you’ve only read about.
1. You’re becoming discontent.
It’s one thing to look around at the environment you’ve created for yourself and feel a little underwhelmed. After all, if we stay in one place for long enough, even the most gorgeous scenery can start to look a little drab. Yet, when this type of feeling hits, it can often be shaken off by looking at your surroundings in a different light. You spend an evening with your girlfriends downtown and suddenly, the city doesn’t seem so boring anymore. You find a nature trail you’ve never been down and you realize there’s lots to explore right where you’re at.
Other times, though, you might get a feeling of discontentment that you just can’t shake. It’s not that there aren’t plenty of things to do where you live, but the prospect of discovering them doesn’t bring you alive anymore. In fact, it’s starting to make you a little bitter, especially when you hear of someone taking a great job a few states away, or packing up and putting down roots across the country. If this sounds like you, it may be time to set off on your own, if for nothing else, to bring you that much-needed outsider perspective you crave.
2. Your ideas have outgrown your current spot.
Do you dream of creating your own fashion line? It goes without saying that your odds of success will likely be higher in a big metropolis like New York City than a small Midwestern hometown. Or, maybe you want a sprawling ranch in the middle of nowhere. If you’re currently stuck in a tiny studio apartment in the heart of the city, you’ll be hard-pressed to find that rural oasis outside your fire escape.
Sometimes, we reach a point where our dreams have grown too large for where we currently are. Thus, to chase them and bring them to fruition, we have to go where they lead. We have to make those big decisions, cut those ties and put the groundwork in place to further our careers, achieve our goals and reach the level of success and satisfaction we crave. Understanding this takes maturity, along with a willingness to sacrifice some comforts in favor of forward progression. If you’ve researched opportunities in your area and consistently come up short, you may need to expand your search and look elsewhere for those possibilities.
3. You have the resources to do so.
Sure, most of us, at one point or another, dream of seeing the world. Yet, many of us lack the means to make wanderlust a permanent pursuit. Rather, most of us pick one or two destinations per year to visit on vacation, then promptly return to the spot we left and figure out how we can reclaim those savings we just spent. However, if you have the means and the resources to set off on your own and initiate a long-term period of exploration, self-growth and personal discovery, it might be time to take that plunge.
Are you itching to visit Paris in the fall, then Holland in the spring? If your finances are in order and you can afford to do so, this might be the ideal time to take off for a season of adventure. Once you arrive in your new locale, you’ll need to be able to set up a living space and work space as soon as possible. Sure, crashing with your college buddy or a long-distance relative might work for the short-term, but especially if you’re planning to make this a long-term move, it’s not a feasible permanent setup. Whether you need to find an apartment or build a workspace for yourself, make a list of the things you’ll require once you arrive at your destination so you’re not scrambling to find them once you get there.
Along those same lines, if you’re planning to move permanently to chase a professional or personal dream, it’s important to make sure you can comfortably do so. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your quality of living just to make a passion come true. Before you leave everything back home to become a writer in Brooklyn or a chef in Los Angeles, be sure you can do so without having to eat beans and broth for months while you replenish your accounts.
4. You’re not doing it for the acclaim.
It’s undeniable that we live in a world where social media is as much a part of our daily lives as what we eat or what we wear. We wake up, we roll over and we immediately check Instagram or Facebook to see what our friends and followers were up to while we were sleeping. Something cool happens to us, and we usually post about it before we even tell our friends and family members about it. In many ways, these platforms are inspirational and motivational, yet they can also be toxic if allowed to overwhelm us.
You may not even realize it, but are you considering setting off on your own just to keep up with the internet Joneses? Do you see influencers and filtered professionals living their best lives out in little squares and in return, take a look at where you currently are and feel a little less than? Doing anything just for the acclaim of others or to see how many “likes” you can get from the big announcement is never a solid impetus to take action. Rather, the drive to explore should come on your own terms, from your own inner conviction. You should be ready to do it even if no one ever knows about it or reads about it on their newsfeed.
5. You’re curious and hungry to learn.
Have you been in the same small town for your entire life? If so, you know there’s more to life than the few miles around your childhood home. Though this might be where you’ve made some of your very best memories, you might still feel a nagging sense that there is much more out there for you to discover. If so, you may be ready to set out on your own and find those new horizons. If you have a natural, innate will to learn as much as possible and soak up new experiences, this can be a rewarding period of enlightenment. Finding yourself in new cultures, places and spaces is a perfect move for those who are curious and exploratory by nature.
On the other hand, you may be a homebody and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, we learn just as much from staying in one place as we do trekking between the continents. After all, knowledge is what you make it. That old man sitting on the bench outside your local gas station? He may have just as much wisdom to impart as the wise monk in Thailand. Learning from people, even those you’ve known your whole life, is never wasted time.
Setting Your Sights on Something New
Remember, even if you do determine that now is the time to set off on your own and see what this great, big world has to offer, you don’t have to book a one-way ticket. In most cases, coming home can be just as rejuvenating as leaving, and you’ll return with a newfound sense of appreciation and purpose for your life.
Sometimes it takes seeing what’s on the other side of the fence for us to realize how green our grass already is. Yet, you may just find that you love it out there and finally feel as free as you wanted to. In either case, it’s worth taking the time and taking the leap, once you’re ready to find out the answer.