Before I resigned this past week, I knew way ahead of time that I was leaving my job. Back in early September, there was a pile of mail on the coffee table. My wife pointed out one letter that I should look at; one from our apartment manager. The gist of the letter went like this:
“In November 2014, it will be time to renew your lease with us! Here are your options: a year-long lease will be your current rate plus an arm, a six-month lease your current rate plus a leg, and a month-to-month lease is your current rate plus an arm and a leg.”
“Are you kidding me?” I said to my wife. “This is ridiculous.”
“I know,” Kaitlyn said. “What are we going to do?”
Although I was calmly sitting on the couch, my mind was racing. What are we going to do? There’s no way we can afford this. We are barely making it by right now. So what’s the next move? Second job? Third job? Selling possessions? Loans? Both of us go to work? Day care is hella expensive. How would Ethan handle the change? Not seeing our son’s biggest moments would crush my wife and I. All kinds of plans and questions flew through my mind. But there was an answer. And what felt like minutes was actually three seconds, and I responded to my wife’s question.
“We have to move. We can’t afford to live here.”
It was quiet as my wife and I sat there in our living room. But as time passed, there wasn’t that moment where I thought “Woah, this is a big decision.” That never came. It still hasn’t come. That’s because, when it came time for the decision to move – despite my mind racing and playing out all kinds of crazy scenarios – the decision was easy. No questions. No worries. No doubt. When faced with life’s biggest decisions, you’re commanded to expose the truest aspects of who you are, your character, and what you stand for. I stand for family.
As my wife and I sat on the couch, the natural follow-up question was begging to be said.
“Where?” asked my wife.
Once again, my mind went racing, but the response was simple and within three seconds.
“Pittsburgh,” I said. “I get my degree first. Then in December, we move to Pittsburgh.”
Moral of the Story: Life decisions expose what you stand for, and your actions speak louder than words.
Preschool jobs don’t provide a lot of money. However, if you work in San Francisco, you can make as much as first year elementary school teachers. Not bad. So you may think it’s difficult to say, “We have to move. We can’t afford to live here.” I mean, look at it from my shoes. It’s more than just a high level of income. My entire early childhood experience and professional network is in San Francisco. Over five years of work, conferences and workshops, I’ve built a nice professional network. People can vouch for my character, work ethic, and drive. There are lots of opportunities in San Francisco; opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else.
Some may say, “Why not fight for those opportunities? Why not fight to stay in the city? If you work smart, you can make it work. Make a calendar. Schedule time for work and time for family. Assess your day and plan your day accordingly. There are ways you can get your work done more efficiently.”
You know what I think? Not worth fighting for. My professional life doesn’t make me rich. My professional life doesn’t make me wealthy. My professional life doesn’t make a better person.
Do I have a professional network in Pittsburgh, PA? Nope.
Do I have a job lined up? Nope.
Do I know if Pittsburgh has early childhood opportunities? Nope.
So what does Pittsburgh have? Pittsburgh has extended family. Pittsburgh gives my family a chance to own a home. Pittsburgh gives me a chance to provide for my family with one-income, so my wife can enjoy our son’s growth and every milestone. Pittsburgh gives us a chance to grow our family. Those are most important to me.
Life decisions force you to choose what is most important. So, here we go. December 2014. Adios San Francisco. Adios California. Adios West Coast and hello East Coast.