It was January.
Cold, slushy winter in a small Colorado town where shop windows screamed “Pray for Snow!” and large men carried half-unholstered guns in the grocery store. We spent our days holed up by the fireplace, keeping warm; cooking chicken pot pies and whole roasted chickens in the spacious kitchen; working on projects and sometimes braving the cold for walks and cycle rides to the grocery store or the library.
It wasn’t a bad place. And, in fact, most of the time I love small towns and off-the-beaten-track home bases.
But this wasn’t the right time or right place for me.
And I wanted out.
You see, the primary reason we came back to the US for a few months was this: Chad wanted to network in person with other tech professionals. The secondary reason was to save money on accommodations, since his family had a vacation home that was just sitting there empty.
But by settling into the vacation home, solidly in the middle of nowhere, at least three hours from the nearest networking opportunity, we definitely were not making headway on that primary reason we’d come here.
We were saving money on rent, sure. But we were stuck. Not moving forward. Not making progress. Not meeting new people. Not connecting with in-person opportunities.
And, at first, it didn’t even occur to me that we had any other options. After all, Chad was bootstrapping his new business. He needed the free rent. I needed to be with him. And until he signed a contract and felt less strapped, this was our option.
Except, no. Not right.
There are almost always options.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget. Because we’ve settled on a plan. “Once X happens, then we can do Y.” And we work toward and wait for X to happen.
But what if X doesn’t happen?
And what if we’ve actually made X more difficult with our plan?
The answer was to ditch the original plan and identify the problem we needed to solve.
In our case: we needed to be in a big US city with abundant networking opportunities. And we needed to do it without Chad having to spend money on rent.
And while that seriously limited our options, it didn’t destroy them.
The first thing that came to mind was housesitting. Could we find a free place to stay in Seattle or New York or San Francisco or Denver by offering to watch pets and water plants and shovel snow?
I spent the next week asking around, posting in groups, and talking to friends and friends of friends about possible opportunities.
None were a good fit.
But I wasn’t done trying to solve our real problem.
We needed to be in a large US city and Chad couldn’t contribute to the rent…but that didn’t mean I couldn’t.
Could we find a place that I could afford on my own?
The next few weeks were full of conversations with potential roommates, research into neighborhoods, and at least one frustrated meltdown. Chad decided he could contribute, just less than usual, so we upped our budget. And in the end, I found us a bedroom in Harlem. The roommate is social and cheerful and vibrant. The neighborhood is personable. The subway is two blocks away.
We booked our flights, we paid our deposit, and, by the end of February, we were in New York.
And that’s the point.
Nothing revolutionary happened. No one sold a kidney. No one won the jackpot.
I just changed my perspective.
I stopped thinking about how frustratingly stuck we were, spinning our wheels in the Land of No Professional Networking Opportunities, and I started asking myself what the problem was and if there were any other ways to solve it.
So, just a quick reminder:
There are almost always options.