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I moved to Florida. Although this is a simple sentence, there was hardly anything simple about making it happen.

We wanted to leave our home in Budapest. We already had a plan to move back to our previous home in the UK, which kept gathering dust in our Someday/Maybe pile. One day we realized that if we had really wanted to do this, we would have done it already.

As we started considering other locations, we noticed that we always end up saying: “Yes, but”: what about language barriers, visa requirements, etc.  What if, instead, we began with some key questions? We looked into our GTD® higher horizons: what is important to us, what do we want to do with our lives? There were many more opportunities to investigate. (One key thought was: “if we are uprooting our lives, why not move to a place where we actually like the weather?”). At the end, we settled on Florida as our destination.

I love planning, especially when all next actions are far away in the future. I feel in control without the pressure of getting started or actually doing anything (yet). I enjoyed daydreaming of how it would feel when it would be complete. In my GTD system, the plan nestled comfortably inside the “project support material”.   

As time went by, the next actions slowly moved to my GTD context lists. In the plan, I used my trusted technique of dividing the lists as “before/during/after” the main event. There were countless checklists (like packing lists) that stayed in “project support material”.

Then one day, I was looking around our home that I now had to clear out in less than a week. There were millions of questions everywhere: Do we need/want this? Can it wait 2 months to reach us and/or does it fit the suitcase? If not, then: Can I sell it? Should I donate it or just throw it away? Simple yes or no questions, but when you are in an emotional limbo between “life until now” vs “life looking forward to having” – it was just too much.  In this overwhelming moment, I realised that there are better questions to ask.

GTD Clarifying: What is this? Is it actionable? If so, what is the next action? If not, is it: Trash? Reference? Incubation? These made it much easier and more efficient to make the decisions.

Then I got hundreds of my next actions listed and anywhere I looked there was a physical reminder of other ones. I soon realized that instead of many repetitive next actions for different things, I am better off with new context lists of each type of action, all relevant items under them. For example, instead of

  • Post coffee table on marketplace
  • Check price for selling sewing machine
  • Take pictures of outgrown toys to sell on marketplace
  • Etc.

I created Marketplace: picture->price check->post as the context list and listed all items under that.

I also moved the physical reminders to separate corners by their category. Instead of 200+ next actions, I had less than a dozen piles and lists.

This part of the project had a hard deadline that I liked. By the time we had to get on our flight, there was nothing left to do.

The clear start date of the “once we get there” part of the project kept a safe distance from it. Then everything got unleashed: planned things and all others that came up at seemingly every turn.

There was no repetition like last time. I needed to divide them all into smaller chunks to be able to digest them. I did this by:

  • Updated context: Settling in is a special period, my regular context lists could not contain these next actions.
  • Priority: As I usually start with “No”, I chose what I could get off my lists and parked them elsewhere.
  • Impact vs effort: Things that have big impact and preferably small effort to feel like we are making progress

For example, getting a social security number, local driver’s license, insurance, etc. all had long processing times (and included many catch-22s), but booking the appointments to get the balls rolling required little effort. Our rental home was filthy, so we needed at least a clean bed and a bathroom, but the rest of the housekeeping could wait. My husband and sons often get “hangry” and when signs of this showed, feeding them had to come before everything else.

We took shortcuts, like eating out before having a clean kitchen or using a rental car before we committed to buying one. But shortcuts always have a way of getting payback. Soon we were longing for homemade dinners that required much more effort. Renting a car for too long adds up to a lot that could have been put into purchasing a car.

There were tough moments when we needed a firm reminder of our higher horizons to keep our motivations up and not get lost in the waves of things that had to be done. On the other side of the Atlantic, it was to spend quality time with friends and family before putting such distance between us. Over here in Florida, we hit pause on the millions of things to do and just went to the beach for an hour. This was one of our main reasons to relocate, so why not start enjoying it?

We are now settled in our new home. It is everything we hoped for and much more – like feeding flamingos!

While my journey to Florida is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and for many people something that they never wish to do – I recommend that you consider the lessons I learned on the way.

  1. Take a look at your opportunities in life without the burden of thinking about why it might not happen.  What is a dream of yours that you keep finding excuses for not pursuing?
  2. If any project seems too enormous to deal with, break it down. Is there anything stuck on your lists that you could make more progress with if only it was smaller?
  3. When you feel flooded by next actions no matter how much progress you make – take a look at your higher horizons to remember: Why?

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