In Pursuit Of A Dream

As I’ve grown, my values have changed and evolved.

Things that mattered to me in my twenties and early thirties don’t matter so much now.

As each year passes, what matters to me becomes clearer. A simple life, with a focus around family, regular outdoor exercise, and a good work routine is what I’m looking for.

(Honestly, I think this guy had it figured out 😉 )

For the past few years, my wife and I have nurtured a shared dream of moving our family to a small mountain town.

Away from the bright city lights and hustle and bustle that defined our previous decade.

Near the trails and woods so we can spend time hiking, running, biking and camping with our kids.

My wife and I are incredibly fortunate to both work for ourselves, which means we can work anywhere we want.

So, over the course of the past 12 months, we spent time browsing Google Maps, looking for small towns that matched our criteria.

We read endless “20 best towns for hiking” and “Best mountain towns in the US” list articles from publications like National Geographic and Outside magazine.

We asked our friends — who last year upped and moved to Asheville, NC, following their dream — for their list and criteria for inspiration.

Finally, we found somewhere.

We kicked the tires on the idea, but couldn’t find a compelling reason why it wouldn’t work.

It was time to roll the dice.

Time to stop dreaming and turn it into reality. The only way to know whether we’d like it was to try it.

So we packed up and moved.

In May 2019, we left St. Petersburg, Florida and drove north to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. And we love it here!

Harpers Ferry
View of Harpers Ferry from the nearby mountain lookout

It’s a beautiful, historic town tucked into the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, with mountains on both sides. The town is enchanting and the Appalachian Trail runs about 300ft from our front door.

It’s early days, but I think it’s perfect for us.

Downtown Harpers Ferry
Downtown Harpers Ferry. All of it.
Trails
Best thing about this place is the miles and miles of trails from our doorstep

Coworking spaces are few and far between of course (although there are several good coffee shops in town), which means I’m primarily working from home now…

…but I love working from home now!

Welcome to My New Office

There were three big challenges to overcome working from home.

Firstly, I missed chatting with colleagues but I rarely feel like that now, largely because my online network has grown. I make a point of jumping on video calls with friends, fellow online creators and customers a few times a month.

Secondly, and one of the biggest challenges working from home, it’s important to be able to focus on work and not be distracted with home stuff.

Thirdly, it also took me a long time to appreciate the value of a good routine for getting work done.

Setting up a proper work space can help on all these fronts.

You want to be inspired by your surroundings and be able to focus entirely on work.

So it’s a hugely worthwhile investment to set things up the way you want.

I mentioned my previous, St Petersburg office setup briefly in 2018’s end of year summary.

Here, I’ll share the new home office setup (click to enlarge):

Office panorama

The windows look out over woods to Blue Ridge mountain, where the Appalachian Trail heads southbound. It’s a spectacular view and helps create a positive environment for me:

View from the office
The view from the office is stunning

The Stuff

In 2017, I shelled out what seemed at the time like an enormous sum on a lovely Jarvis standing desk. It’s been worth every penny.

I break my day into blocks of sitting and blocks of standing (no particular schedule).

The Jarvis Standing Desk has loads of cool features. I can change the height at the press of a button and I have 4 preset height options for easy adjustment. I love the big 60″ by 30″ surface and simple, elegant design.

Office artwork
Office artwork

On the left of this picture is the Chart of Cosmic Exploration by Pop Chart, which is a super cool visual history of spaceflight. I learn something new every time I look at it.

The picture on the right is the Success Canvas Art by Ikonick. It reminds me to work hard to achieve my goals.

Closing Thoughts

Whilst the past few weeks have been frustrating, chaotic and above all tiring — that’s moving with a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old for you — deep down I feel more content and at peace than I have in a long time.

Right now, I have to pinch myself to check it’s real and I’m not just on vacation. I can’t escape the feeling that someone is going to come along and say “Alright then, time to go back to reality…”.

I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to live and work here.

I’ve worked hard chasing this dream, or some variation of it, most of my adult life. Now I intend to make the most of it.

See you on the trails!

6 thoughts on “In Pursuit Of A Dream”

  1. Congrats!

    My wife and I did something similar 9 years ago. Left careers in the city to be closer to the outdoors. We now work from home and are minutes away from 500+ miles of local trails that we can hike, mountain bike and backcountry ski. Not a week goes by that we don’t mention how much we love our new life.

    Turns out that, for us, getting outside every few days is addicting and something that we were missing.

    Cheers to your new adventure.

    1. Cheers, Keith! Thanks for sharing your story. Being outdoors is really core to who we are, so this place is ideal for us 😉

  2. This is so cool and inspiring, Ben! Who knew you were so close. My family and I are in Charlottesvile, VA. I love your emails and all of the content you produce. You’re my go-to guy for Sheets solutions.

    1. Thanks, Bobby! Charlottesville and surrounding area is beautiful. We spent some time there earlier this year.

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