Our lives and our careers are deeply affected by our surroundings. We can try to ignore the noise, trash, overcrowding and other issues, but it really isn’t completely possible. They can effect us at a subconscious level and add burdens to our sometimes overburdened lives. When you are trying to build the career you deserve, you need a physical environment that helps and soothes you, not one that is constantly confronting you and taking energy away from your more important work.
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What makes for a “decent place to live?” It is different for everyone. Let’s start with the physical constraints. Is it overly noisy? Is it too noisy for your constitution? Some people thrive on “the voice of city” — that constant cacophony of cars and people and sirens and trains. It gives them energy and helps them feel connected to the world. Others, like myself, get annoyed by constant, repetitive noises and need quiet. As I write today, the air is filled with the sound of gas-powered leaf blowers — one of the banes of my existence. The sound distracts me and makes it hard to do my work. Luckily, though, the noise will soon abate and the neighborhood will be somewhat peaceful once again.
In your area Is there too much pollution? Too much crime? No easy way to get to work? Whatever the problems, you need to think deeply about what is affecting your ability to create the career you want and deserve. You need your energy to focus on your work and career and each physical problem you face saps that energy. It makes it more difficult for you to do great work, expand your influence and grow. I know that in many cases we focus more on career issues like general education, specific skills and career opportunities, but your physical environment is a low level problem that affects everything else in your life. It can’t — and shouldn’t be — ignored.
Often, we live someplace because that is where we, our families and our friends have always lived. Unfortunately, this means that some people live in depressed, dilapidated and even dangerous areas. Even worse, we live in those areas not because we have to, but rather simply from inertia. If you want to build a great career — and a great life — you may need to move from your family’s traditional setting to somewhere more conducive to your career.
This could mean moving from the small town to the big city. It might mean moving out of “the neighborhood” to somewhere closer to your job. In this global economy it could even mean moving to another country. Whatever the case, it can be difficult to break free from your history, but it can be dramatically important to do so. If there are few job opportunities where you are, you may have to move. If you face crime every time you return home in the evening, you need to move. If you are surrounded by the exact opposite type of people you wish to associate with (or become), it may be time to get out. It is a simple truth that who you are is greatly affected by the environment where you live. You can’t divorce yourself from your environment.
Where to go
The first step in finding a “decent place to live” is understanding that you are not trapped where you are. You CAN move across town, across the state or country or even to another part of the world, should that be where the opportunities exist. With my own son, I have hoped to instill in him the fact that his work could take him anywhere.
We have had the opportunity to visit family in Sicily and take him on business trips to the UK. He is currently enamoured with working in the gaming industry and often talks about the possibilities of working abroad. I feel that it has been very important to expose him to new countries, new people, new thoughts throughout his childhood so that he would be open to the possibilities for his future. Sure, I will miss him if he moves thousands of miles away, but I will also celebrate the fact that he is seeking opportunities wherever they may lie.
If you have never thought about the possibilities and opportunities of leaving the place of your birth, I urge you to do so. Yes, you may find success where you are now, but it is deeply important to be open to opportunities elsewhere. Don’t limit yourself to your own small geographic area. Be aware of far flung opportunities — perhaps even cultivate them. In today’s world of social media it is very likely you will have contacts all over the world. Engage with them. Ask them questions. Learn what they like about their location and their career — what their city or country offers them.
Except for those in the most desperate of circumstances, most of us can choose not only the work we do, but where we do that work. Careers are rapidly becoming global in these first decades of the 21st Century and all of us need to recognize and exploit that fact. We are not stuck. We are not trapped. We all need — and deserve — a decent place to live so that our careers — and our lives — can flourish. It is up to you, though, to go out and actively find the environment, the city, the state, the country that is best for you. Don’t let inertia decide where you work and live. It is a fundamental truth that what we all need is a decent place to live.