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Your optimal geography: Where to live, and where to thrive

For about the first decade of our radio career, Don and I moved a lot. And by a lot I mean Seattle to San Francisco, to Phoenix, to Dallas, to Seattle, to Michigan, to New Orleans, and finally back to Seattle.

I know, right? An overnight success.

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Because of all that moving, I really internalized the idea that I needed to “bloom where I was planted.” I figured, this is my situation, I’m adaptable, and I should be able to be happy wherever we happened to find ourselves. Nobody wants the new guy on the radio complaining about the city he just moved to.

That belief became such a part of me that I never really questioned it. Until I ran across an interview with a woman named Debbie Millman. She is one of the most influential designers in America and is the President Emeritus of the Professional Association of Design. The interview was titled “How To Design A Life.”

My ah-ha moment came when she was emphatically talking about how important she believes it is for a person to be in the correct place.

Where to live

Most of the time when you hear about improving your life it starts from the inside out. Debbie approached it from the outside in. For her, it all started with being in the correct place. Not in terms of emotionally or spiritually, but the idea that there is an optimal geography for a person.

She recounted that early in her career, it was mandatory for her to live in Manhattan. It wasn’t good enough to be in Brooklyn or The Bronx. It had to be Manhattan. Even though she couldn’t quite afford it, and she was in a really crappy apartment. There was an energy and environment there that was her perfect place.

I happened to be listening to this interview while making a particularly brutal commute out to Woodinville at the time. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m not a Woodinville guy. No disrespect. Woodinville is a fine place to live. It’s just not my place. I realized that I need to be in the city. That’s where I get my energy. That’s where I feel my best.

So while it’s possible to adapt to virtually any environment, I have come to believe that there is a more perfect place to be (I understand that for many people financial constraints severely limit their options). I think this concept also applies to jobs and relationships and many other things.

Moving sucks. But sometimes it’s better to have the worst house on the street you want to live on, than the best house in a place that’s not for you.

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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