This blog is getting you a major sneak peak into the inner-workings of our decision to live in Colorado. Case in point – in this post, I’m sharing one of the psychological tricks we used on ourselves (unknowingly) to make the move to Colorado appear much easier.

Kathi and I traveled to New Zealand in 2008 B.K. (before kids) and the trip was AMAZING. I won’t try to describe it. Instead, check out some of these pictures.

When you go on vacation somewhere, do you usually imagine what it would be like to live there? Or is that just us? We seem to always dream about living in the places we vacation. Actually, Kathi dreams and I think about the more practical aspects of living there. After gallivanting in New Zealand on a 10 day whirlwind trip, we daydreamed about going back for a longer trip or even finding a way to live there for year. A pipe dream really…

Fast forward to 2014, I came across the idea of a dreamline thanks to one of my favorite authors, Tim Ferriss. Basically, a dreamline involves picking one of your dreams and putting a timeline on it. So we did exactly that in 2014 and I have the Google Doc to prove it. We planned on living in New Zealand for 1 year in 2017. The operative word there is planned. Dreams are cool, but the thing about dreams is most of them only come true at Disney World. Planning, as opposed to just dreaming, flips a different switch in your mind. Little girls DREAM about getting married while Bridezilla PLANS her wedding. Get the difference?


So what happened?

We had a due date for our New Zealand dreamline, but the due date of baby #2 (Alexa) did not fit so well into our plan. Did we wimp out? Yeah, I guess you could say Kathi did wimp out a little. 😉

But that crazy dreamline was not totally for naught. The two year phase of thinking and planning how we could make New Zealand a reality had a profound effect on our psyche. This planning process blazed the trail in our mind and made living in another state seem like a relatively simple endeavor. When we officially decided that New Zealand wasn’t in the cards, we talked about other possible locations on our list. Colorado was next up and seemed like a breeze compared to moving to the other side of the Earth.


The Contrast Effect

There’s actually a psych principle to explain this effect and I came across it in the book Influence by Robert Cialdini. The Contrast Effect, also called Perceptual Contrast, says that when two different things are perceived in succession, your experience of the first influences your perception of the second. The cold pool feels like ice after a dip in the hot tub, and a baseball bat feels like a feather after a batter takes practice swings with a weighted bat in the on-deck circle.

We didn’t set out to use this principle on ourselves, but it definitely worked to our advantage. If we had planned on a Colorado move from the start, there’s a good chance it would have never happened. In that case, we would have compared it to staying in our current house or moving 5 miles within the suburbs of Chicago. Colorado would have then felt like the other side of the world. But since we were literally planning on moving to New Zealand and working out some of the details of an international move, the switch to packing up a truck and driving west for 17 hrs felt like a major step down in difficulty.


Use Perceptual Contrast To Your Advantage

Unfortunately, you can’t play mind games and use this principle on yourself. It just happens like it did for us. Based on our experience, the one key that will allow you to use Perceptual Contrast to your advantage is to dream big and add a timeline.

Do you have any dreams you need to turn into a dreamline?