Why I Left Portland - A Guide to Taking a Leap of Faith

A lot has happened in the last eight weeks. It’s been a whirlwind, and I think it’s fair to say that life is nearly unrecognizable from when this story began. I’ve shared snippets of the process on social media, and my close friends and family know most of the details, but it feels like this process is one that should be shared. It’s part mindset, part motivation, and a whole lot of good fortune and unbelievable timing. So, whether you are someone who is wondering if they have what it takes to make a leap of faith, someone considering a big life change, or just someone wondering “what the hell happened and why did you leave Portland?”, I hope this will shed some light on the journey.

First, let me say that two months ago I was not looking to leave Portland. Not even a little bit. I was building momentum in my work as a strength coach, my Rock Steady Boxing program was beginning to experience the organic growth that I knew it was capable of, and I was enjoying all of the amazing things that summer in the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Moving was something I had an open mind about, but was not pursuing in any form. This whole adventure started when I opened an e-mail from a physical therapy recruiter, the same sort of e-mail I delete every other week. The difference? The headline of this one read, “Interested in a Director of Rehab position in Napa Valley?”. Most of these recruiters are looking for candidates to fill positions in parts of the country I have no interest in, such as rural Texas, Alaska, or somewhere in Appalachia. Napa though? Yea, I could live there. So I opened the e-mail, and then things just started happening.

There’s a quote I heard about a year ago that has stuck with me ever since. I don’t remember where I heard it, but it goes something like this; “When the fear of missed opportunity surpasses the fear of failure, it is time to take action.” It was in regards to leaving a safe job and jumping into the pursuit of a passion. It is a concept that presented itself to me at the perfect time. I was in the midst of trying to figure out how I was going to make fitness and coaching a viable career, while balancing my desire to continue to practice physical therapy. I have fallen back on this quote repeatedly ever since. Whether it was making the choice to compete in my first powerlifting event, taking on clients training for a competition, or launching into paid public speaking events. Once I responded to that recruiting e-mail and had a great first interview, this quote began creeping into the forefront of my consciousness. For a time, the fear of failure maintained it’s place atop the pyramid of thought. Not fear of failing in this potential new roll, but fear of failing the clients, friends, and family that I would have to leave behind. Fear that I would not find the same success, and same unencumbered joy in my work that I found every day at the gym. Fear that, on some level, I may slip back towards the time in my life that being overwhelmed by career challenges spun me into a place of depression and anxiety that I nearly did not survive.

"When the fear of missed opportunity surpasses the fear of failure, it is time to take action."

When I set the initial interview and told Rebecca (my then girlfriend / now fiancé)  that I was going to talk to a recruiter about a job in California, her immediate response was, “You can go, but I’m staying here.” Which to me, was never actually an option. I was only minimally interested in the job, and primarily viewed it as a chance to practice my interview skills and to see if I had the resume to be a competitive candidate for a director-level position. Even if I had loved the job, moving without her was never on the table. The progression from initial interview, to second interview, to receiving a job offer that would change our financial standing significantly, came with with a parallel benefit. It forced me to communicate with my partner on a level I never had to before. To articulate my thoughts and feelings, my rationales and calculations, and my commitment to OUR future (not just mine), deeply and also quickly. In the end, despite both of us feeling torn by the prospect of leaving a place we loved and group of people we know we can’t replace, the opportunity was too great to pass up. Ten days after initial contact,  I accepted a job offer and we committed to moving to California within the month.

This decision to uproot everything and take a leap of faith came down to the powerful message behind that quote. “When the fear of missed opportunity surpasses the fear of failure, it is time to take action.” This concept is not one that I take lightly, or use as justification to make rash or uneducated decisions. It is a process to move from one end of the spectrum to the other. It take time and effort to evaluate the potential outcomes of a decision. The bigger the decision, the more thought it deserves. This decision changed nearly everything in my life. From being surrounded by friends and family, to being a 600 miles away from all of them. It took me from working part time as a therapist and part time as a coach, to full time as a therapist leading a team of rehab professionals. It took me from the familiar to the unfamiliar on every account. And perhaps more importantly, it took from a situation where I was happy, motivated and growing, to place where the only certainty was uncertainty. But my fear of missed opportunity had surpassed my fear of failure, and so I took action. You can do it too.

David SkolnikComment