Life is Not that Different.

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One of the first things people said to me when I moved from Nebraska to Minnesota was “Geez, that’ll be different.”

Then I moved from Mankato, Minn. to Fargo, N.D. and heard “Oh wow, now THAT will be different.”

So when I first packed up my stuff and took off for Minnesota I kept thinking to myself, “Do my friends and family know something that I don’t know?”

I’d never really lived any place other than Nebraska but given my world during VSN I got to see a lot of the country. I’ll spare you the long drawn out poetic comparisons just to say that we do live in a beautiful country and you should get out and see it.

Having friends from college from all over the place there were the constant battle of states and still are to this day. My Iowa friends would never live in Nebraska, my Nebraska friends would never live in Iowa and so on and so forth.

I knew a few things would change. Climate and scenery were the first things I thought I’d notice. But after a year and a half away from the Cornhusker state I have some sad news to break to everyone. None of these places are all that different. And moving to these places doesn’t make LIFE all that different.

I recently went for a Saturday night drive so I could listen to some music (Eric Church was the soundtrack this time) and wind down from the week. I purposely went “off-road” around Fargo just to check things out a little more extensively than I had in the most recent months.

Corn, beans, wheat. . .repeat. Corn, beans, wheat. . .repeat. Same thing I saw in Mankato. Same as in Nebraska.

I’m not sure what people who have been in one region all their lives think? Were the expectations that once you got outside of Nebraska the entire world would change? Well, it didn’t. . .it’s not that different. In all my travels I can safely say that the Midwest/Great Plains/Heartland looks the same and people are the same. I’ve encountered the same amount of extremely nice people as I have those that I’d rather forget.

Nightlife? It’s the same. We all drink beer, whiskey, wine or whatever and bars are populated with the same amount of people having a good time vs. those there to tie one on.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is this. For everyone who thinks moving from one state to the next will change your life, it really does not. It’s the life you decide to lead that will change. Your life is not all that different unless you want it to be.

You’re still going to encounter the same type of culture. In Minnesota, everyone has a boat and goes to a lake. In Nebraska they replace boats with 4-wheelers and side-by-sides. In North Dakota it’s half and half. (Yes, I’m generalizing. It’s a blog.) Outside of that, day to day life in all of these places is the same. We eat, we sleep, we go to work and occasionally mix in something fun to do.

One of the big reasons I moved was to start a new career and to give myself a fresh start on life after a couple of really rocky years. I feel like I have done that between finding my job and having a lot of time to myself to think and try new things. (No, it’s not ALL been about my snapchat restaurant/food reviews).

But I do have advice for people who think they are stuck in a job or in a situation they can’t change. It’s not about wiping a slate clean or going all Jerry Maguire on your job. Moving to a new state doesn’t change the person you are and quitting your job won’t suddenly give you the shot in the arm you need to find a new career.

(Corny writing/Tony Robbins Alert): Those changes have to come from you. You have to make the decision to change and seek out the help you need in making those changes. Whether it’s setting long term goals or just recommitting yourself in the short term to focus on something smaller. You. . .have to make those changes. No one can do it for you.

Sure, others can help. A few years ago I read “The Power of Who” and that book gave me great perspective on who really mattered in my life. Over the course of my travels and meeting people I got into the habit of getting to know people and throwing them in this category of friends. But as time went on these “friends” faded away or just became less important. That’s the difference between knowing your trusted circle of friends vs. people that are acquaintances or that you just happen to kind of know. These spots aren’t just limited to friends but family members too.

The book really talked about having 2-3 people who are your trusted circle of advisors. The people whose opinions you take to heart and actually listen to. Then having 5-10 people who are your close friends, ones you stay in contact with and know for the most part what they are doing in your life.

The next category of friends were those who you are friends with, likely have your back but you just aren’t as close to for one reason or another. Maybe it’s distance, maybe it’s lifestyles or something else. As a guy who played football in college I probably have more people in this category than others. Great people, they’ll be there for me. I’m just not going to call them when major life decisions come up.

What I’m getting at is if you are in a spot where you need to make some changes, make sure you are talking to the right people. Make sure they have your best interest in mind, not theirs. You’re closest friends and trusted advisors aren’t and shouldn’t always tell you what you want to hear. If I would have listened to some people, I would have never taken this job and started my new career which at this point I would say would have been a huge mistake.

The people closest to you should challenge you to do better. They should push you to levels of discomfort at times in conversations and then still be able to pull it back and “keep it real.”

I’m a strong believer of going and talking to someone you don’t know, who doesn’t know your situation, also known as a counselor. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a licensed therapist. For some people it may be a priest or minister, that just doesn’t happen to be me.

A couple years ago I went to a great counselor in Omaha. If I lived there I’d still be seeing him because he was really good. You know how I know he was good? He never told me what to do. He made me think about all my actions, he challenged me on my thought process and he pointed out how I kept making the same mistakes just in different situations. Don’t be afraid to do the same.

But when it’s all said and done, the decisions are yours to make. Nobody elses. Are you worried about making the wrong decision? Good. . .think it through. Are you worried someone might be mad at you if you make that decision? Good. . .they aren’t living your life.

Just make sure you are being honest about what you want. What do I want in a career? What do I want to accomplish in the next year? What do I want my life to look like in 5-10-15 years? Write it down: “WHAT DO I WANT?” Then start making a list and be honest with yourself about the possibilities. It doesn’t matter your age or where you are in life as long as your realistic and honest.

“I want to create the next Google!” Okay, lets see. . .you have no computer skills, no formal education on how the current Google even works and still use a Hotmail account. I’d advise you to think things through and a little more and be realistic.

“I want to be a better friend to____” “I want to get a promotion” “I want to be a better dad.” Okay, now you are talking. How do you get there? Write it down. Ask people. It’ll come together. It might take a week, a month or a year. Be patient.

By no means do I have life figured out just because I moved into a studio apartment in Fargo, have a job that I like and good people in my circle. I have tons of things that I want and have no clue how to get there. That’s why it’s a process and you just have to take life one day at a time.

Nothing reminds us more about this than reading the news. Look at all the people every day killed in a war, traffic accident or have a medical incident. All you can do is take it one day at a time and try to be a little better tomorrow than you were today.

The changes you can make in your life don’t happen by snapping your fingers. You don’t wake up one day a better person or a worse person than the day before. Life is not that different but the little things you do each day can amount to something no matter what the goal.

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