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We are in the process of transforming into full-blown snowbirds. It’s admittedly an odd life choice for people with five school-aged kids. And truthfully, a rather complicated choice. It’s definitely not an easy path forward. Living in a house and having kids in public school is a simpler choice. 

So why go through all the hassle? 

It’s the best option for my mental health. For starters, I get terrible seasonal depression. The shorter days and cold weather have never been my favorite, but where we live also is extremely cloudy in the winter, like nuclear fallout, cloudy. Like, I’m not sure the sun still exists, cloudy. I’m a solar-powered creature. And when the sun disappears for weeks at a time, I power down. 

Then compound that seasonal depression with my Bipolar. The lower my lows get, the higher my highs get. And instead of keeping things in a steady range, it starts a cycle that’s like rough water. 

But I can survive it. I have survived it the ten years we have lived here. I’ve found ways to cope and push through. It’s miserable but come Spring; I’m still alive. 

This mindset of “I can survive.” Or “I should be able to push through.” Or “I should be able to do this without help.” is a common roadblock for my coaching clients. 

It comes up a lot when they are dealing with work burnout. “But I can keep going. Sure, I’m horribly tired, but I will survive.” Or they want to switch jobs, but “the job isn’t terrible all the time. Sometimes it’s fine or just bad. I can push through for a while longer.”  

Sometimes we stay stuck because we confuse the ability to survive as a noble character trait. 

But I think about it this way. Imagine you are falsely accused of a crime and serving a prison sentence for another year. And then, one day, an attorney comes to you and says she has a good shot of getting you acquitted. But your response is, “You know, it’s fine here. I’m not happy, but I can handle it. I’m surviving. Sure it’s not ideal, but I’ll just wait it out.” Freedom is out there. Life is waiting for you out there.

But because you can tolerate where you are, you decide to stay someplace you don’t have to be. 

In a week, we leave for our eight-month road trip. So I’m in the throes of it right now. Packing, cleaning, getting our house ready to rent, and making reservations. It’s complicated. And hard. And a massive hassle. Staying put would be simpler. 

Growing up in Montana, I absorbed the mindset of the hardworking farmers and ranchers around me. Grit, perseverance, noble suffering. And in a lot of ways, it served me well. Helped me pay off $55,000 of debt. Helped me buy and renovate rentals. Helped me become financially independent. 

It’s easy to stay stuck and tell yourself it’s because you’re being hardworking, responsible, or realistic. And maybe that’s the case. Or maybe it’s because the alternative is scary and complicated and full of unknowns with little guarantee. 

But there are ways to mitigate the risk and increase the likelihood of success. If you’ve followed my content for a while, you know I’m not a “Go big or go home” kind of person. Test and scale, friend.

With this snowbird metamorphosis, we have been testing for years. Starting with 2 or 3-week winter trips. Last year we took a 3-month winter trip and our first honest attempt at homeschooling. So this year, we are scaling up! We will be gone from October to June. 

About ten years ago, I was considering trying medication for my Bipolar again. And my good friend, August, gave me some advice I’ve never forgotten. She said, “Maybe life doesn’t have to be this hard.” 

Change is scary, and it can feel easier to stay Stuck at 6. Because you’re tough, you can push through, keep your head down and survive. But because you’re tough, you can also make a change. 

We often will choose the known mediocre over the unknown. Why make a change when it might end up being worse? It’s easy to predict how it could be worse. It’s harder to see all the ways it could be better. 

I’ve coached dozens and dozens and dozens of people through big life changes. It’s possible. It’s possible to take small specific actions to make progress. It’s possible to test and scale. It’s possible to mitigate failure with small calculated risks. It’s possible to create flexible and resilient plans (and LOTS of backup plans).

It’s scary. It’s hard. It’s complicated. But in the end, it’s worth it.