Why Long Distance Is Not the Death of Ambitions

Zen Dog

It is fairly common for couples in long distance relationships to believe that for them to close the distance, one of them will have to move, and sacrifice their work goals to continue the relationship. While half of this statement is true (at least one of you will have to move), it is not true that this means sacrificing all of your work goals and ambitions. In fact, in many cases it can be quite the opposite. Moving to a new country, or new part of your country can act as a blank slate and give you the freedom to mould yourself into who you want to be, not confined by your previous work history or mistakes.

Chelsea and I, for example, recognise that the most likely scenario is that once I graduate from university, she will move to England. However, if this does not work out and our visa is declined, I would move to the USA to be with her. In terms of our position now, and where we want to be; Chelsea is currently a dog trainer specialising in aggressive behaviour, with a number of qualifications recognised worldwide behind her, and I am a student of advertising and marketing.

We are both in the fortunate position to own our own businesses. Chelsea owns Zen Dog (the logo of which can be seen in the banner), and I own Swift Blue Digital. Chelsea also works for a doggie daycare to supplement her income, and afford to be able to visit me. I take on digital marketing contracts through my business to afford to visit her, and otherwise survive on a UK student loan helped by Green-Touch Installment loans. Being frugal and trying to save money on food also helps.

Chris' ambitions as a small business owner

Setting up for my first seminar as a small business owner

Our Ambitions for the Future

However, obviously, this is not where we always plan to be. We both have goals and ambitions past what we are doing at the moment. Chelsea would love to own her own dog training facility, able to work with dogs and make a difference in their lives, but also be her own boss and set her own goals. And I want to eventually own my own advertising or digital marketing agency. Obviously, we are both very driven people, and have high aspirations for ourselves. And you might initially think that this would cause some conflict when thinking about moving.

But the truth is, the fear of moving and not being able to achieve your ambitions is purely psychological. Home is safe, and you know what is and isn’t possible. But the unknown is scary and new. I experienced this to some degree in December, before visiting Chelsea in America. I did not know how I would find America, or being that far away from home for an extended period of time. And the thought of moving there permanently scared me even more. But as soon as I arrived, all of those feelings dissipated. Everything felt right, and I knew I would be completely comfortable moving there to be with Chelsea.

If I couldn’t get the graduate level job I wanted straight after moving, that did not matter. I might have to take a step down, and work my way back up again, or undertake more education, or even work towards putting some professional qualifications behind me. But, I would be willing to do that, to be able to live with Chelsea. It would not be giving up on my ambitions, or even putting them on hold. I would still be working towards them just as hard as I would otherwise be, I would just have to start from a different position.

Talking to Chelsea about this, she has a fairly similar outlook on her moving to England. At first, she recognises she may not be able to get back into dog training, and would take anything she could to earn an income and provide her with work experience in the UK. But that would not stop her from continuing to seek employment in dog training, or even re-establishing her business. And then working from that point onwards.

We are both in agreement that either of us moving would not be the death of our ambitions, or put them on the backburner. We may have to work a little harder to achieve them, but at the end of the day, for what we are gaining (a lifetime living with each other) it is most definitely a worthy sacrifice.

Chelsea teaching an obedience class

Chelsea teaching an obedience class

Tips for Achieving Your Ambitions Once You Have Moved

One day, the day will come when you are able to move in with your partner. And that day should be one of the happiest of your life. I know when it happens for me, it will certainly be a day I will never forget. For quite a while afterwards, it will be all I will be able to think of. How happy I am that after all the hard work, Chelsea and I are finally together at last. But, life carries on, and this is not the end of the story. Once you have moved in together, you should continue to try to make each other happy, and surprise each other. Living together is your story, not the end to it.

Part of that story will be trying to achieve your aims, and ambitions. But, with your partner by your side, you should be able to achieve anything you want to. Because they are your biggest supporter, and will help you with whatever it is you want to do, just like you would do for them. So, here is how to achieve your ambitions once you have made the move.

Firstly, it is important to remember that you are in a new country (or new part of the country), and what you used to know might not be the same here. Whether it is as simple as a few words being used differently, to an entire social and business culture being different, make sure to familiarise yourself with these differences to give yourself the best chance possible.

Even England & Scotland can be very different places

Even England & Scotland can be very different places

Next, make sure you are aware of what is achievable in your current position. What experience is needed to do what? What position are you able to go into your desired industry at? It is important to be realistic with this appraisal and decide the best course of action. It might be that you want to own your own business, but a few years in a larger firm in the area would give you the insight you need first. Or perhaps you want to be a travel writer, in which case a brief stint in journalism may provide you with the contacts you need.

Once you have this figured out, it is important to work out, with your partner some short term, mid term and long term goals. This will allow you to keep focused on what you want to achieve, and the time element should help motivate you also. Try to make these goals realistic, but not so safe that you know you will easily be able to achieve them. You are in a new place, with new rules. You have already proven to yourself you can move outside of your comfort zone, so make these goals slightly outside of your comfort zone, and you will be able to achieve more than you could have imagined. But, also, remember the one most singular piece of advice from this article:

Don’t Be Scared of the Unknown

If you only take one thing from reading this, let it be this: any fear about moving to be with your partner is purely psychological. It is a fear of the unknown. And, admittedly, the unknown can be scary at times. But remember what you are doing it for – your partner, and they are worth it. Yes you may have to take a slight dock in pay, or work a position that you have done before. But that doesn’t mean giving up on your dreams completely.

And more importantly, in a new country you have a completely blank slate to make yourself into how you really want to be. No-one will hold you  to your past actions. If there is any aspect of yourself you were not happy with beforehand, this is your chance to change it. Moving will give you a new lease of life, a new freedom. The ability to keep old friends and family, but make new one’s along the way. Portray yourself in the best way possible at work, and who knows you might achieve your ambitions sooner than you expected!

Of course, you will have your partner by your side the whole way. To a couple that has been long distance for the length of the relationship, this is a completely new and exhilarating experience. (Well, from what I imagine; Chelsea and I are still excitedly counting down until this day.) Or, to a couple that has been in close proximity, and separated, this will be a welcome return. So do not fear the unknown, embrace it, and always keep your determination. And one day you will achieve your dreams, and be able to share them with your partner too.

My fear of the unknown disappeared as soon as I arrived in America

My fear of the unknown disappeared as soon as I arrived in America

– Chris



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Chris Martin

CommonTime Head of Marketing. Responsible marketing advocate, avid technophile, part time consultant and full time husband.