When you have your dream job, but you still have to move away

I know it is totally not okay to talk about your job online, but I’m gonna blab for a minute.

The short story is for the last 18 months I’ve been working in what feels like my dream job. The position was created specifically for me, I manage a growing state-wide program with plenty of ongoing funding and support, I get to work with under-served populations I feel very strongly about in an area I value (vague enough for you?). Our data show incredible amounts of improvement in almost all of our geographic locations.

Last summer I took a graduate-level course through the University to learn more about my field and the group of people who help deliver my program around the state. I learned a little and got access to some excellent resources and discussions…but honestly? I was not wowed or amazed by all this BRAND NEW INFORMATION. My department (boss and co-worker) wrote a huge chunk of the curriculum based on data that we all are pretty well-versed in, so if I had no concept of the course contents I’d be a lot more concerned.

I also attended the national conference for the program I manage and…I also didn’t learn a ton. My state is at the forefront of what we do; so I shared a lot of our best practices and have fielded many requests for copies of our resources and documents, but after 3 days of conferencing I had exactly two solid ideas for improvement of the program and it’s delivery in my state. Two. (For scale, I shared about 30 ideas, all really, really great ones.)

So…what am I trying to say? That I’m the Super Best Employee and everything I touch is gold? Ha! Not even close. I was incredibly lucky to be in the right place at the right time with an fantastic, supportive and long-seeing boss, the type who can Make Things Happen and is able to see the long-term view of a project and how it can grow, and together we set up the structure to support long-term growth and improvement.

I have a big, state-wide meeting tomorrow to wrap up the program for the year. I am driving to Arizona on Saturday to join my sweetheart and all of my things and start life anew there.

This has been the plan for the last nine months, I made no secret about my plans and intentions when talking to my office colleagues, I wanted my boss to have plenty of time to figure out her next steps, plenty of time to hire a replacement and let me have a few weeks with them to transfer some of the industry knowledge into their spongey, new-hire brain.

My replacement has not been hired. My position has not even been posted because–again, due to an incredible amount of luck and a supportive boss–I will be keeping my dream job, move to Arizona be damned. I signed the contract a few weeks ago, I’ll be working remotely and coming back to Salt Lake a few times a year for meetings and trainings and program delivery. You guys, this was perhaps the one, single thing that has kept me sane over the last two months. The idea of not having to start from scratch in a job hunt, the idea of not truly leaving the colleagues I respect so much, the idea of not walking away quite yet from this program I built and poured my soul into.


Will there be new challenges in working remotely, working from home, and being primarily alone all day? Sure. Absolutely. Am I more than capable of tackling those challenges head on? I like to think so. I shall begin that process Monday, there is zero down-time in this transition. Just enough time for me to drive 700 miles south and plug in my computer.

Gah! I love technology so much! Yay for email and webinar and video conferencing! Yay for file sharing and cloud storage and office iChat. [Insert wild-waving, cyber arms here.]

Do you work remotely? At home? Mostly via some kind of telecommute? Any tips you’d care to throw my way? Or blogs/posts I should read and pay attention to? Feed me, my people! This is a whole new mind-set for me!

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0 thoughts on “When you have your dream job, but you still have to move away

  1. Madeline

    After I had my first baby i quit my job (where I had worked for 5 years) and we moved to Texas so my husband could get his masters. I was actually on board with the decision but had a difficult time adjusting. After about 6 months, my company called me and asked if I would like to work part time remotely. I did! It changed the workflow between the team and I. I needed more communication via phone/messenger/ and email but it was good. I was put on a pretty autonomous project where I could do a lot of the work without guidance. I worked for 18 months that way and when we moved back to Utah I slid back into my old job. At the beginning I worked remotely 3 days a week and in the office 2 days but I’ve leaned in a bit and have taken on more responsibility at work and am in the office most days. I still have the option of working from home if I have a sick kid or something else comes up & that flexibility is pretty amazing.

    I’m so glad you were able to keep the job & wish you all the best in collaborating with your coworker. One tool I have LOVED for digital collaboration is Basecamp. Look into it -maybe it could help the process along.

  2. Sherry

    I mostly work from home now that I have my third and I’m hesitant to put her in any child care. (It’s such a pain to be forced to be a germaphobe!) I miss my regular real-life interactions with my co-workers. I get to see other adults at church and book group, but other than that, my social interactions are pretty limited right now. Plus, my co-workers and I talk about genealogy (which is fun and more cerebral), but with church folks our talk is usually more germane. So I miss the intellectual conversations with co-workers.

    It is also really hard for me to get stuff done, but I think that has everything to do with having three little kids and very little to do with working from home. A few nights a week, husband deals with all three while I buckle down and get work done.

    I’m incredibly grateful that I can work from home! I think your experience will probably be really different than mine.

  3. Jess

    YAY! I’m so excited this worked out for you! And this is exactly what happened to me when we moved from DC to Denver. I didn’t think telecommuting was an option, but when I gave my notice I discovered that it was, and we worked it out. And actually, even though I’ve changed jobs since, I still work remotely, because a colleague at my previous job changed to a new job in the same field and DC location and recruited me over. Honestly, I love it. I’d be happy to discuss via email if you have more questions, but a couple broad tips: first, set up an office with a door that closes, and get up every morning and get dressed in something other than sweatpants and go to your office and close the door. Second, put regularly scheduled calls, say once every 3-4 weeks, on the calendar with your favorite colleagues (all one on one calls, not group) with no agenda, just to chat and catch up. It’s a really good way to make sure that you stay on the radar and that you’re in the loop on some of the less tangible stuff going on in the office, the types of things that won’t be in any agenda and that wouldn’t come up with a whole group of people on the call. And third, try to do trips back to the office location at least a couple times a year, if you can. A week of face time every now and then does wonders for maintaining connections.

    Good luck! This is going to be so great, and honestly, not having a commute has done wonders for my quality of life.

  4. Alice

    Oh man, I was getting so bummed on your behalf, having to walk away from this amazing job. Nice twist!! 🙂 Ha! I’m so happy you’ll be able to keep it! I’ve never tried working from home full time, so unfortunately I have no advice. Although I’ve heard from friends that they find it very important to still get up, shower, and dress nicely every day. That always stuck with me because I can see myself devolving into living in my pjs 24×7 verrrrrry easily.

  5. Saskia

    My tips after writing full time for the last year: make a schedule and know when you’re off work. I think you already have this covered and will be expected to be “in office” from xx-xx which will help–working at home means there aren’t set boundaries between work life and personal life. Build those boundaries. You want those boundaries. Communicate them to your boss and your husband as necessary. (My pet peeve is that because I’m home, I often take care of the house work during my lunch break. If tidying during lunch relaxes you, go for it, but otherwise make sure that is not an expectation.) A big part of this is having an office, which will make boundaries all the easier.

    Get out of the house every day. Go for a walk or get lunch or even just drive to the book store for a quick break. Working from home, you don’t have the interaction with coworkers that would automatically give you a break or two during the day–this can be wonderful for productivity but can also be isolating. I am also more productive when I get out into the fresh air every couple hours. Walking Josie is a wonderful excuse for that (and she will remind me when I am lax! so it’s a no brainer for me) But your weather might not cooperate fully for that 😉

    I like getting dressed and working in “real” clothes, but that’s really personal. Some people do their best work in yoga pants. There are days I’m dressed in workout clothes all day, and only get around to exercising at 8PM. You can experiment with that!

    It’s an adjustment and you should give yourself a while to figure it all out. After a week or two, I would take some time to reflect and think about what you miss: do you need to schedule lunch dates with new friends because you’re feeling isolated? Is your back killing you and do you need a better chair? Do you need to schedule regular chats with your boss to feel in the loop? Or is everything awesome?

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  7. Problems With Infinity

    The ability to work remotely is soooo amazing. I “work” remotely (by work I mean write and draw a lot of stuff for my blog for no money!). But more seriously, luckily my boyfriend is able to work remotely- so we decided to move to Barcelona for a little while!

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