In Paulo Coelho’s critically acclaimed The Alchemist a young Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago is troubled by a recurring dream of treasure in a distant land. Santiago is ultimately convinced to leave the certainty of his village and security of his flock in search of this treasure. With the money from the sale of the flock he sets off, and discovers something far richer - the experiences and expanded emotional life that comes from pursuing your destiny.
For the ambitious and curious person, the place where you grow up is very unlikely to be the place where you will realise your ambition. Not because there is anything fundamentally wrong with that place. Not because the people in the town lack ambition, no, most people are ambitious about something. But because in your hometown you are in the habit of being yourself.
To dream means to believe in something that does not exist, something that is greater than you as you are today. That requires change, and good changes typically break habits.
That doesn’t mean your home town can’t be the place, but it is unlikely.
Because the habit of being yourself is one you have refined over your entire life. And in your hometown you are surrounded by unconscious reminders of who you are and what you stand for.
One rule of habit reformation is to change your environment.
Most types of ambitions are likely harder to realise in your hometown:
- If your ambition is to have the most positive and healthy relationship possible, then casting the net wider makes sense.
- If your ambition is career related, then moving to an area of high density in your field makes sense. AND if you are the lucky type who already lives in the globally best place for your field, moving may still offer benefits such as forcing you to meet new people or escaping complacency and tradition.
- If your ambition is health related, moving somewhere where life is designed around health (such as a walkable city) will make it easier for you.
The exception that proves the rule is for family-related ambitions, in those cases it makes sense to be near family, which may or may not require moving.
Thinking long-term, the easiest path to realising your ambition is not the one of least resistance, but the one that yields the biggest relative (and net positive) change for a relatively small investment of time / energy / money / or whatever else it is you value.