There’s No Such Place as Far Away

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This month I’ve been talking to people from all over the world, beginning the outlining and research for a new book. It’s a long process and I have a long way to go. Nevertheless, a few observations are slowly coming through.

Observation #1: Discontent is the fuel for transformation.

Whether you talk to someone who has sold everything they owned to walk the earth, or to someone who changed the way they make dinner for their family, the roots of the transition are very similar.

Everyone says the same thing, and it always relates to discontent.

I was stuck in a rut and needed a change.

I always believed there was more to life.

The idea kept pressing on me until I could no longer ignore it.

In big and small ways, we all want to escape routine and find a new way of life. We want to change it up and live adventurously.

When we experience the discontent, we don’t have to respond to it. We can instead stifle it, packing it back in the box of our psyche, leaving it to wither and go the place where dreams die.

Or we can pay attention to it and use it as a force for good, a launching pad into new frontiers and unseen lands. We can ask ourselves: “What’s next? Where to from here?” and then we can listen to the answer.

Oh, and when people choose to take action on their sense of alienation, they often arrive at another common statement:

I just got tired of waiting for everything to be perfect.

I finally decided to proceed with my new plan, ready or not.

Waiting for perfection is like waiting for the world to change: a way to defer responsibility.

There’s no such place as far away.

There’s no such time as “someday.”

Sometimes you just need to pay attention to the discontent and see where it leads.

Comments here.


Image: Simone

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  • Niko says:

    Your writing on discontent really hit the spot for me. I was in a bad marriage and waiting for life to get better, until I finally realized that it wasn’t going to until I made it happen. So, scared as hell, I took the plunge and left with nothing but my clothes and personal belongings. Now, years later, I’m happier than ever enjoying the present and looking forward to the future. Thanks for your continual words of optimism, it’s all been helpful in making me a better and better person.

  • Estefany says:

    Se nos puede pasar la vida esperando a estar listos y jamás lo estaremos completamente.
    gracias Chris

  • Caroline Frenette says:

    My “discontent” at a previous business venture quickly transformed into radical changes :my decision to be done with it and move on.

    This translated into closing my retail boutique & yoga studio, returning all unsold merchandise (to often unhappy suppliers), breaking a very expensive lease (thank Goddess for my amazing landlord who helped out in the process) and hearing from my dear customers & students : “Oh noooooooooooo! But what are we going to dooooooooooo?”

    Deciding to close a business I loved (but that no longer served me) was hard, but I could not ignore my intuition any longer. The whispers of my true desires and a need for personal growth needed to be honoured.

    Now I have my freedom back, a new flourishing intuitive coaching business that I adore and I get to work from home (and travel the world) while serving my ah-mazing clients via Skype.

  • Dvon says:

    I can truly understand what you have written here. This is exactly where I am in life. I am with feelings of discontent and ready to do something new. I am doing something new and not really sure where it will lead. I must say I’m walking and guided by spirit. Thank you for the words of encouragement.

  • Diana says:

    YES!!! I am going through this right now. After months of floundering and up/down emotions, I have made the decision that this really is not the place I want to be or the city I want to live in. It’s not nearly ideal for the person I am or what I am alive to do. It was a small step but huge in my mind. I told myself that I am out of here, however it has to happen. And then I took boxes/packing material from the recycling in my building, which just so happened to be there right after I said that to myself. I am fearlessly forging ahead and seeking opportunities that are in alignment with what I have passion for and what I truly believe in. Now that I have made this decision, I feel confident that what I seek will present itself to me, and I will soon be steamrolling my way towards my biggest dreams.

  • Joseph Bernard says:

    Discontent is a calling towards expansion. It begins as a subtle contractions within. As you become aware of these contractions most look towards the world around them as the cause. The cause is most often your thoughts or the closing of your heart. You can change your response to anything and you can change anything you get clear it is time to thinking bigger or love more.

    The most powerful inner voice is your higher nature/soul which can also be called intuition. It is always there whispering to you about greater possibilities. When you listen your life expands.

    The title makes me think there are no places far away because through our awareness we can realize we are all one; that not only are we in the universe, the universe is within us.

    Peace and Joy to all you wonderful souls.

  • Rafael says:

    It is wonderful how we can be reconnected with our principles and goals with a simple blog post! Never stop to touch us with your words. And there is something more… Where is the other people that want to grow up? They are not here, not commenting, not reading… Unfortunately, growing is not for everbody!

  • monoaural says:

    Yes and no.

    Still, luck prefers a prepared mind. I spent the most years of my life traveling, often, no pretty much always leaving without waiting for the perfect moment. Some times it was great, sometimes i was not. It always depends on its own expectation. Otherwise it will be most likely, that you are going to be a victim of your own expectation. And if its a runaway from something, it is always a bad start. You always take yourself with you, right?!
    just my 5 cents.

  • Dan Waters says:

    Those responses are spookily similar to the ones I gave when I filled out the second survey for Chris. What amazes me is that so many people ‘settle’. Maybe it’s that by the time Friday night comes around they’ve forgotten how miserable they were on Monday morning!

  • Terry Jordan says:

    For me, something different sent me on a quest to explore my edges. It was a simple shift in the way I perceived myself.

    For years I cheered my husband, Bob, as he competed in Ironman triathlons, always believing, “I could never do that!” I saw him as Superman, pushing himself to higher and harder goals.

    Then a group of “ordinary” folks signed up to do an Ironman in memory of our daughter, Emily, who passed away at the age of five from leukemia. Their plan: to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Emily as their “honored teammate.” Inspired by this Team, I asked myself, “Could I do that?”

    The question changed my world view. I still had all my excuses, like the fact I had never run a marathon. One after another, however, my excuses seemed to disappear. The only reason not to join the Team was my desire to spend time in the really comfortable couch we had just bought.

    My quest (and question) got me off the couch to test my boundaries. I finished my 1st Ironman 2 minutes before the midnight cut-off. Yay!

    Now, if I find myself saying, “I could never do that,” I wake up and shift to asking, “Could I do that?” The question has made all the difference!

  • Melinda says:

    I really like this post about ‘discontent’ being the fuel for transformation. I work with people who are sick, with heart disease or diabetes, about changing their diet. However, it is not until they realize their discontentment with their illness that they are even open to change. Thanks for the insight.

  • Sandra Hamlett says:

    Last year the life of quiet desperation exploded as I was faced with my husband’s betrayal of me and our marriage. I was devastated but determined to rebuild the marriage. Thankfully, the universe stepped in to throw obstacle after obstacle in my way to achieving this.

    I was struggling to cling to an unsatisfactory life and marriage. I was living in a life where I settled and compromised my dreams.
    I realized that instead of showing my children strength I was showing them what a life of surrender looked like.

    I wish I harnessed the discontent before and turned it into action sooner but I needed to learn this lesson. Now it is a deep and profound part of me. Instead of ignoring discontent, I’ve turned into action. I have a plan, not just a vague urge. I have focus and determination to do instead of to just try. And I will never settle again for an ordinary life of desperation again.

  • Miguel p says:

    What about crisis? Some people are happy with their life and then crisis happens over night. They lose their dream job, the love of their life,… And then they must find strength to change the course. Remember cortez burning all those ships? I am sure those sailors and warriors didn’t move because they were discontent, they moved because the options were gone and they had to move forward. Nah, discontent may be fuel, but it is a luxury. Your theory will not be complete unless you consider crisis as well.

  • Marilyn says:

    So many people live “by accident” when it is so much more rewarding (though sometimes scary & requiring more energy to counter the expectations of family, friends & society) to live “on purpose.” Discontent (or migraines or a nervous stomach or … ) is often the clue that we are living by accident or, as Dan Waters has said, “settling.”

    Live on purpose! Be a little scared & live through it anyway. Be who you really are.

  • Michele Ceres says:

    Which is the stronger driving force: discontent (unhappy with the way things are) or desire (clearly imagining how you would like things to be)?

  • Natalie the Singingfool says:

    Discontent DEFINITELY fueled my change. It got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore – I had to change something, or I was going to break down. That really wasn’t a choice for me.
    It hasn’t worked out yet, but I keep my head down and my hope alive, day after day.

  • Karin Pinter says:

    More than discontent for me, it’s a desire for something better that is driven by some major reality checks. Letting go of what’s not been working and making room for new attitudes, new vision, new people, new experiences, more fun… and more freedom (which starts from within).

  • Kevin says:

    Tony Robbins has a great quote that I’m going to mangle & reword.

    Basically, when you feel discontent you should feel excited–like your post states, discontentment is the impetus for change & challenge. If you didn’t ever feel discontent you would never grow.

    The greater the discontentment the greater the opportunity for growth.

  • Cara Lopez Lee says:

    I like the way you put it, Chris. That’s often how change happens for me: moving to Alaska, changing jobs, trekking around the world, getting married, becoming self-employed, writing a book – it all starts with a feeling that staying where I am doesn’t fit me anymore. This is different from negativity, in which people are dissatisfied no matter where they are. I steer clear of that attitude, in myself and others.

  • Heather Thorkelson says:

    This has totally been my experience as well. I work with people who are really on the cusp of making some major changes and I often get asked, “But how do I change? How do I do it?” and the answer is very much embodied in your post here. Change happens when change happens – when there is no longer another option. You hit that wall…it’s not something someone can teach you or do for you. It’s just BLAM….life is slightly (or majorly) different now. Great post, as always Chris. I can’t freakin’ wait until the 2013 WDS!! I’m flying up from Peru again because I just can’t stay away!

  • Mel says:

    Very timely and very beautifully written. Thanks Chris

  • Nancy Sayre says:

    Your post on discontent rang my bell as it rang so many others’. Discontent is exciting because (as Cara writes), “…staying where I am doesn’t fit me anymore.” It’s a wake-up call that I’ve learned to embrace. Moving into late middle age in particular has been very exciting with lots of discontent—and so far I’ve quit my job, gone to university full-time and got a degree, and in May I’m off to Australia for a walkabout, finally, something I’d planned 40 years ago and cancelled because I decided to get married (the wedding never came off). Discontent alerts us to get back on the track to fulfillment. If we dare.


    I can’t wait for you to finish this book, it will resonate with many people who have ever been stuck. Getting “unstuck” is only possible with change. Change can be anything that clears a path for you. I do various things to remove creative blocks. Recently I got sick with a minor illness but it put me in bed for a week and during that time of rest (with no distractions) I had a creative break through. Luckily I kept a journal of the dreams, visions and ideas that came to me during that time. Later I found your blog, read your Art + Money book and am on my way to creating a blog and updating my website with new images I painted. You inspired me. Thank you.

  • Senga Cree says:

    Love the post Chris- we are all driven to be better- to progress and often discontent can do that for us although sometimes internal drive, ego or the need to keep evolving can be triggers as well? As a bit of a perfectionist I loved the last bit: waiting for perfection- a way to defer responsibility- aha – so true 🙂

    Also signed up for WDS- sooo excited!!

  • Stevie says:

    Right on! I’ve had quite a few radical changes in my life and you’ve summed them up quite nicely!

  • Kat says:

    I always enjoy reading what you have to say. It always hits home in one way or another. Then I always start wandering around your site. for more great reads. thanks

  • Melanie says:

    Holla! After seven years teaching and then being the principal of a school in Maryland, I finally reached a high enough level of discontent and left to travel the world and write! It took serious strength to listen to myself because I was “good” at my job, so no one else understood why I wanted to leave. But it wasn’t my passion.

    Now I’ve been traveling the country with all I own in my station wagon for eight months, building my writing career, and getting ready to launch a second new career as an online life transformation coach! All because I listened to my discontent.

    By the way, I’m going to see you tonight in Santa Cruz! Can’t wait!

  • Beth says:

    That’s exactly where I am and how I happened to stumble onto this website. I’ve signed up for a 6 wk seminar at the local SBDC and looking forward to discovering what I am capable of and working toward making an exciting and challenging life for myself.

  • Hannah Rose says:

    Kind of thinking along Cara’ lines ( echoed by Nancy Sayre)–if “who I am doesn’t fit me anymore” it’s time to try something that does. To me this is the essence of being alive–being able to choose what new direction you are going to take, in any part of your life, as often as you need to. Living on purpose is living with imagination, and the people who are not afraid to dream up and work out a uhique new life are exciting to be around.

    Positive change IS exciting! You get good at it, you hobnob with others who can change and adapt quickly. Living with imagination sure beats stagnatingl

    We know those folks. They sing in church choirs with their blank faces, their heads down, eyes focussed on their songbooks. (Substitute whatever unthinking, repetitive group you are forced to spend time around.) Thanks for a chance to vent!

  • Daniel DiPiazza says:

    I concur. I always adhere to the “70% Rule”…meaning if I can get just 70% of something right, I’ll be satisfied enough to release it into the world and start the process of transformation. “Someday” will never come. Nike was on to something.

  • Marti says:

    Excellent post. You strike just the tight tone and sentiment for me!

  • Anita says:

    I love what you wrote here Chris. Discontent is indeed a powerful influence, both one to be ignored at one’s own peril as well as one to be listened to with some care! I finally came to the realize this past Christmas that I could not keep hiding behind my self-inflicted belief that “teaching is my life.” I had ignored the feeling of dis-ease for long enough. And reading your book the $100 Startup was a game changer too! Thanks so very much

  • Angela says:

    I agree with this, though I think for a lot of people, they have to feel way more than just discontent with their lives. So many people are accepting discontent as normal. The readers of this blog, and those who have read your books will act upon things if they are not feeling that they are living and meaningful life, though there are so many other people, unaware that this state of constant discontent does not have to be the way, that there is another way. With these people it takes a massive trauma, it takes something that has come from way out of left field before they will explore changes in their lives. I do think that with the help of sites like this one, that people are beginning to not settle for a mediocre life. I certainly hope so.

  • Michele says:

    That’s weird…I had just finished typing “Dissonance is the motivation for change” on my yet to be launched website when I received your email regarding this post…..

    Great minds…..

  • Efi Maryeli says:

    That’s where I am in life right now. I’m trying to find a way out of discontent, but I’m not yet sure of its source. I’m trying to find it, though. Thanks Chris. On target, as always!!!

  • Prime says:

    Discontent is actually a fuel for positive change. It’s not about being negative and dissatisfied all the time, but more of a desire to improve and move towards your soul’s purpose. It’s actually discontent that pushed me to quit my job, travel, go to graduate school and pursue other opportunities in journalism. It’s discontent that pushed me to build a travel blog and work crazy hours to make it grow. These days, it’s discontent that’s encouraging me to offer new services and build a more sustainable location independent business.

  • Feuza says:

    I would not agree more! recently I got this bug to move south with my family, this same bug started 2 years ago and I just realized I never took action on this idea and more importantly that life is passing me by like crazy. even though with kids this makes things much harder, i want to an example to them. great insight, we say we are not happy but are we not? if we never take action or do anything about it? we are not unhappy enough for changce.

  • Shola says:

    I agree that many transformations and innovations are born out of frustration and discontent but I have seen some financial disasters occur as a result of the same underlying issue. I think ths is a great sugue from your $100 Startup book because many of the thriving business examples in there were launched out of this very thing. Imwould be interested to learn of anyone’s litmus test for the right solution/decision to an overbearing feeling of discontent.

  • Kola says:

    Chris, will you put lots and lots of pictures from your trip in the book? 🙂

  • Morringhan says:

    I absolutelly agree, I finally bought a ticket to England this February, which has always been a dream of mine. And althought I don’t have the money to be spending on a leisure trip, or a steady job to come back to, my reasoning can be resumed in one sentence; “there’s always gonna be a better time”
    I should wait til I have a better job, more money, finish school, get married, buy a car etc.. and with that neverending list of reasons not to go I decided I had one master reason to do just the opposite, bc I wanted to.

  • Dave Crenshaw says:

    Very well-written. Thanks for the insight, Chris!

  • Michelle Joni says:

    I loved this post, Chris – such truth you speak! When I was in college I launched a fashion magazine which now thrives… on the fuel of getting rejected from sorority life. Two years in a row.

    I was unhappy with my last job (and the whole “job” thing in general) which lead me to get gracefully fired and be able to work full time on the blog of my dreams, allowing me to speak from my heart all day long.

    I recently wrote a post on how I feel I’m too happy. It’s true. Because although there were other factors involved (the general internet population ganging up on me and causing mass internal confusion), I know the truth is I need to fight harder to stay focused and passionate. Or… perhaps I just need disruption. My fire fades when I’m too content. I would love to hear your thoughts on how to keep that fire burning WHILE being content. Can’t I have it all, dammit?

  • Livia says:

    This resonates with me. Especially today. Thanks for your inspiring post. I’ve always be one for the safe harbour but also felt that there was more to life than just sit and wait for things to change by themselves. So I had to set my sails on my own. It is daring and frightening sometimes – and very rewarding too. Cheers to all.

  • Greg says:

    Sometimes discontent can be good; sometimes, it’s just being a spoiled brat. At times, a person needs to just be here with the way things are — live it. Otherwise, s/he just keeps moving from experience to experience without really living deeply in each one.

  • Julia says:

    Thank you for reminding me that discontent is just energy looking for a focus.

    Here’s to great things this year!

  • Ben says:

    I agree Chris, it was my discontent and not being happy with my old path that made me do what i’m doing now.

    Acceptance can be a valuable thing at times, but ignoring this discontent and doing nothing about it didn’t help. It wasn’t until I let it fuel my desire to have something different that I have started taking consistent action!


  • Taiwanda says:

    Great post and oh so correct! Yes, without discontent, one is comfortable where they are, the way things are. It’s only when someone becomes uncomfortable in some matter that begins to directly affect some aspect of their life negatively that they feel the need to change something.

  • Sean says:

    Excellent point Chris. It seems most of are more easily motivated to change when discontent becomes too annoying (or painful).

    I think the secret is to recognize the discontent before it happens and then act proactively. But then, that’s easier said than done. 🙂

  • Heather says:

    A resounding “YES” is reverberating in my head after reading this. It’s so true what you say about discontent being the fuel for transformation. I know I have a tendency to allow discontent to be a negative emotion, one I don’t enjoy having and wish would just go away. When, in fact it’s more of a compass, or a GPS telling me to get up and move on to the next hing. Now I don’t always want to listen, but then I would be stagnating. Thank you for this post, it’s just the reminder I needed!

  • Susan @ Travel Junkette says:

    Yes — the power of discontent can be magical! As long as you know what you want to do with it. Can’t wait to read more about your new project, Chris!

  • Max says:

    There’s a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says : “It is not length of life, but depth of life.”

    And when we work but don’t love what we do, there’s no depth, no life, no fun. When we realize this, we must act, we must change. The most difficult thing is the decision. The rest follows.

  • Joe says:

    Agree. but discontent must come togheter with daring to make what you do. If not, it will just lead you to frustration..

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