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Leaving Manchester: how it feels to make a big change

What moving from Manchester after almost 30 years means to me

I’ve lived in Manchester since 1995.

I sold my house last month, and I’ve fully moved to Staffordshire.

Manchester Joshua Brooks, skyline

When my friend said he’d come visit over the weekend, I proposed I go there instead. Feeling homesick. Missing my routines. Craving a meander round town.

Wandering round town is something I've done for hours every week for years. Until the pandemic, when I stayed with my boyfriend. And there’s nothing here in Staffordshire that really fills the void (yet).

I’ve felt romantic about Manchester city centre for many years. Of course I have. Look at her: the startling mix of old and new, the vividly orange buildings that contrast most beautifully against a blue sky, her energy and vibrancy. Dirty old town.

I’ve put in miles traversing those familiar streets. It has been my primary source of exercise, of entertainment, of wonder, of identity.

So to say I feel ambivalent about moving is an understatement. That’s the thing about transitions. It’s rarely a story as simple as “change”. It’s a story about who you are, what you do, how you perceive the world, how the world perceives you, your beliefs, your relationships.

While some of the changes I’ve experienced of late have been within my control, for the most part I’ve had to make them because of circumstance. Some changes are like that. They can be like a blowing up of the self.

But, on balance, if I were to do some kind of statistical analysis or something, it is much better living here. I feel safer, for example. Safer than I have for the past almost 30 years. I feel more peaceful. Everything in my life is more balanced. I rest more and judge myself less. Every day when I look out of the window I see grass, and sky and trees and birds. There is space. I don’t miss being boxed in a terraced house, with the houses opposite, and the people in them encroaching..

How does life coaching help with change?

So what do these ramblings have to do with coaching, you cry.

Manchester city centre square of  tall glass buildings

Well, nothing and everything. Coaching is fundamentally about change. And change is complicated. It affects us in ways we might not expect. Some of it we’ll feel good about and some of it we won’t. The expectation that making improvements or changing things for the better will be easy is often not borne out by reality. Just because you want it doesn’t mean you always like it.

Coaching is about deciding on change, preparing for it, deciding which kinds of change are worth the disruption and which aren’t.

It’s about making change happen and finding the best ways to manage all the feelings that come up as a result. They do come up. That’s just how we humans are.

Here’s what I miss about living in the city: I miss being a part of Manchester and Manchester being a part of me. I miss getting up, walking along the canal into town, and just wandering, wandering, finding new things, seeing little details I may not have noticed before. All the places that are a conduit for memories of friendships, and jobs, and growing up. Drinking coffee in my favourite cafes. Shops. Oh the lovely shops.

The nice thing about my visit, apart from being really excited to be “home”, was wandering round town with Ryan (my very good pal), and taking different paths than the ones I would usually choose. Seeing everything from slightly different angles. Queuing up for breakfast (my god, I would never usually choose to queue!). Nothing felt unfamiliar, but there was excitement and novelty.

Manchester was still part of me and I was still part of it, and there was also a new way of seeing it.

But I still feel a profound sense of loss, despite having been slowly edging towards this move mentally and physically for months.

An important factor in change is recognising that we need time to adjust because change challenges our roles and our self-perception. Even positive change requires adjustment. The length and depth of those adjustments are determined by individual characteristics in us, and the types of changes we experience.

Coaching walks you through all this.

Not just the practical steps. But the all-important considerations that ensure the mental and emotional adjustments are worth the effort. Establishing your deeply held values and aligning any future change with those so that change feels congruent.

Can change be quick and easy?

There’s an irritating tendency in online marketing to try to make processes of change and transition appear quick and sexy. I’m told that what I’m meant to do is to identify your (the potential clients’) pain points, and provide solutions. I should be selling tangible, clear solutions, not features.

Manchester railway arches and tall buildings skyline

Let me state the obvious: you are a human being. Human beings like you are emotional, physical, cognizing beings interacting with a complex and fast changing world. Your mind is made up of knowledge, beliefs, experiences, interpretations, values, habits, patterns, assumptions.

You are tied to people, to places, to roles, to relationships, to cultural norms, to traditions, to expectations, to economics, to politics.

You are a complex entity.

To make a life transition you need to alter some or all of these things that make up your mind and your circumstances. All while your physical and emotional self-responds to these changes.

So to answer the question can change be quick and easy: yes. Change can be quick, and it need not be difficult. But that’s not really why change challenges us. Change challenges us because for it to be worthwhile it needs to also be congruent (where values and behaviours match), and you need the time and resources to adjust to it.

Deciding on which changes are best for you, given the complexity and inter-connectedness of being human is something that is so much easier when you do it as part of a team.

Coaching solutions to your pain points

You want to change. Something is bothering you. Maybe several things.

It could be your job, where you live, your work life balance.

You may have bought a book or five to help you figure out what to do. But you still feel stuck. It’s hard to do this stuff alone.

You are probably feeling stuck, overwhelmed, wanting to make a change and not knowing what to change or how; knowing what you want to change but thinking that the solution may just come to you (it won’t & why leave such a huge life decision to chance?).

The solutions is to get to know yourself better. Make decisions based on your individual wants, needs, circumstances, relationships, expectations, limitations, resources etc.etc. (In short find solutions that line up and are comfortable for your you-ness).

If you are ready to challenge yourself you will push past the places where you feel stuck. Coaching is a fast-track way to do that, which can save you years of prevarication, half finished plans, and procrastination. Coaching gets you from where you are to where you want to be in a way that is likely to stick, and to feel good.

Features: why choose me as your coach instead of someone else?

The other thing that I hear a lot is to sell solutions not features. But I’m always looking for features. Features matter.

I don’t buy clothes just to keep warm. I also want them to suit me and my style. I care about the stitching and the detailing, the choice of fabrics, the cut.

I don’t go on holiday just for a change of scenery. I want to be able to do the kinds of things I find pleasing while I’m there.

Likewise, coaches have features too. Mine are these: I’m not here to give advice, I’m here to help you find the best solutions to suit your you-ness.

I like to establish foundations (which are to figure out your values) so that you have something firm to build on. I support you in being fully prepared for change.

I’m insightful, and gentle, but I know when to give you a push. I use coaching tools judiciously when they are appropriate for what you need – first and foremost I am interested in what is going to work for you. I have been trained and accredited since 2008, and have engaged in several follow-up courses.

I’m a cheer-leader. I want you to feel fulfilled and contented and will support you to get that.

Here I am myself, finally not in limbo, having officially moved. Surrounded (to the rafters I might add) by my stuff and my partner's stuff. I can do things that ease the pain and discomfort of this change.

I can appreciate the positives. But it will take time for me to integrate a different sense of my place in the world, create new habits and routines, to establish friendships.

Graffiti Red Brick Buildings Manchester Northern Quarter

Here’s my prescription to myself: find ways to connect. I’m starting with selling my embroidery at craft fairs around Staffordshire because it’s lovely to meet other traders and local customers.

And I’m booking trips to the city so that I can feel connected to my hobbies and interests while seeing friends. Next stop: London with a huge list of galleries to go to.

And, finally, be patient, the change is made, now it’s all about adjusting, which can’t be rushed.

Luckily my business is all online, so that can stay consistent.

You can make changes too. You can change anything you like, though it may take a little time, and it will take effort.

If you want to work with me on changes you want to make you can arrange a quick chat to discuss. Email


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