Relocation Changes More Than Address – Intelligent Risk-Taking In Action

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. “ – Anaïs Nin

Last August, I sold all my furniture, packed up the rest of my belongings, and drove cross-country to move from Washington, DC to Oakland, CA. I knew exactly 13 people in the Bay Area – my 12 co-workers and my new roommate. When I arrived, I replaced my furniture and set about the adventure of starting my new life here.

What I’ve consistently heard over the last year is surprise over my willingness to make such a move. Most are even more surprised to learn that I had not planned to move when I did. I often wonder if I wasn’t crazy for embarking on a huge life event with little preplanning.

Soon after my move, I took the Barnes & Conti Intelligent Risk-Taking program (what I would have given for this knowledge last summer, particularly the planning wheel!). In retrospect, I realize that I actually followed, to some degree, the Fast Track model of the Intelligent Risk-Taking (IRT) process, though I’ll admit, I think much of the Assess step (weighing costs and benefits) was skipped. In celebration of the one-year anniversary of my move, I’ve taken time to review the IRT process, and I can clearly see the successes and learning opportunities from my moving process

I suppose it’s not possible to be fully prepared for the realities of moving 3200 miles. Although I have managed to address the little things you must replace when you move – salons, gyms, shopping (thank goodness for, I did not realize how much my move would change me. I recently retook the IRT Style Questionnaire. While my behavior in some arenas has remained constant, others have changed greatly – particularly the 4 arenas where I had been highly overcautious: Business, Physical, Image, and Interpersonal.

Business: When I first took the questionnaire, I was 6 weeks into a new job and terrified of making mistakes. Now, however, I’m confident in my role, and thanks to great mentors, I’m comfortable taking risks.

Physical: For my friends and family – this is perhaps the arena of the most surprising changes. I went snowboarding in April. I go on hikes weekly. I have a goal to ride a century (100 miles) next year…but I have to learn to ride a bike first. While I won’t be signing up for skydiving lessons any time soon, the beauty of the Bay Area seems to demand outdoor activity, representing a departure from my “allergic to the outdoors” self. Strapping yourself to a snowboard and hurtling down a mountain also puts many other risks into perspective, especially when you realize after falling 54 times that the only way down the mountain will require several more falls.

Image: My outdoors allergy was one part of my pre-California image that has been challenged. Taking the risk to move to the Bay Area allowed me to be comfortable with my “self” who wears a suit and heels, just as I am comfortable with the one who wears jeans and sneakers (fashionable sneakers, but sneakers nonetheless). Although I did spend my first few months here in a bit of an identity crisis, struggling to blend my “east-coast” and “west-coast” selves (and Midwestern background), I’ve since learned to accept that I am a mixture of these experiences and to take a chance that others will accept my multi-faceted personality.

Interpersonal: Without a doubt – this was my most challenging risk arena and an area that is still evolving. Despite my general talkativeness, I am an introvert who can seem a bit standoffish at times. It has required a significant effort for me to take the risks, regularly, needed to meet new people. I am slowly but surely shedding my over-cautiousness and building my social network.

Overall, there are days when the relocation is difficult and uncomfortable. But as Sam Roberts has frequently advised me, “If it’s uncomfortable, then it’s different, and it’s probably right because you’re growing.” Yet, there are times when I’m still a little scared and think: “Really? What was I thinking?” However, I often think of the article by Isabella Conti in our IRT workbook. She writes about being terrified before beginning her three-year journey on a sailboat, but that the “…motivation to go forward must be greater than the fear…Having taken my great risk, succeeded and grown from it, I can use that experience to guide me in those heart-pounding moments when fear, for a moment, overwhelms the dream” (To read Isabella Conti’s article click here)

Living in the Bay Area truly is a dream come true for me. Looking back, the madness of last summer seems both very long ago and as if it were yesterday. I remember, very vividly being wracked with anxiety about where to live, where the job would go and the myriad of other things associated with a new home. However, after taking this risk, others seem easier. Now, would I make such a huge move again? With my trusty IRT planning wheel, even a move to Europe seems doable.

Written by Grace Boone, Marketing manager of Barnes & Conti Associates

What’s your risk style? Take our Intelligent Risk Taking Style Questionnaire by clicking here. For more information on Intelligent Risk Taking visit or give us a call at 800.835.0911.

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