“Should I Stay or Should I Go?”: The Case for Change


A friend recently contacted me in regards to a career opportunity that would require relocating across the country and leaving behind a life she’s been building for a number of years. It’s a major decision, with a whole host of factors that doesn’t make the decision a basic binary choice. Few choices in life are that simple.

When she called me about it, there was really no question how I was going to advise her: Take the job, make the move.

I believe in change. As a central tenet of 10 Cities / 10 Years, I’ve discussed the importance and empowerment of embracing change. If you’re seeking my opinion on a big life choice, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that I’m going to recommend the path not-yet-taken. I suppose that could be seen as kind of self-serving, a way of justifying my personal life direction by encouraging others to follow suit. And, sure, that’s probably true. So what?

All things being equal, change is always the better choice. We all have a finite amount of time to store up life experiences before we enter the void, so why not try to make them as diverse as possible? Look, either we disappear into nothingness when we die or we go to heaven/hell. Either way, eternity is going to be one monotonous slog. It’s our years here among the corporeal when we get to mix it up some, try strange things, live different places, get new tattoos. Change is the sole province of the living.

Even if your life is pretty damn good right where you’re at, that’s no reason to fear change. If you managed to make a good life for yourself once, there’s no reason to assume you won’t be able to do the same somewhere else. Over the past 9 years, I’ve lived in 9 cities. I didn’t love every single one, and there were definitely times when I realized I wasn’t as happy as I was the city before. That’s the great thing about embracing change as a life philosophy, though. I always knew that the next year offered me another chance to make things better.

Now, I want to stress the “all things being equal.” I’m not advocating masochism or self-sabotage. Not every opportunity is a good one, and it’s certainly not always the right time to pick up and move. In any decision, a multitude of factors can weigh heavily for one side or the other, in which case the choice becomes easy. But, after one has carefully loaded up all the relevant materials on both sides of the scale, if there is no obvious winner, the possibility of change is a 20-ton weight.

Change isn’t for everyone, I realize. And that’s good. The world needs people who embrace stasis. Without the risk-adverse, how could we have a 4th Transformers movie coming out this summer? And Lord knows every company likes to have at least one employee who’s been around for a couple decades. It provides a sense of continuity. People who never make a significant change or step outside their comfort zone are the ones keeping most industries alive, buying the same thing over and over and over (and over) again.

If, though, life offers you a detour and there’s no good reason not to take it, take it. Every time.

I don’t know what my friend will decide because I can’t possibly know all the factors involved in her choice, but knowing her, whichever way she goes, it will be the right decision.

But if you ever come to me with a tough choice, you can go ahead and just assume what I’m going to suggest: Try something new. A change is gonna do you good.