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Learn from Barbara Sher, Barbara Winter, and me…


Help! I Want to Move to Italy:
When Family Dreams Clash,
Find a Way for Everyone to Win

By Valerie Young

Angela wrote with a problem I'm sure many people can identify with – what to do when your dream and your family's needs clash. One of the best ways to get someone to support your dream is to find a way to support their dream. Angela, an executive assistant from New York, writes:

I've always held administrative jobs because that is my expertise, but I don't like to have my time monitored, office gossip, being the victim of downsizing, and office politics. Unfortunately I need my job for medical insurance and other benefits.

My dream is to live in Italy. I have lived there with my parents and vacationed there, but for financial reasons, am able to go back only seldom. To ease the homesickness, I have enrolled in Italian cooking classes, performed in local opera companies, and listen to Italian music every day.

The problem is my family. Although my husband is self-employed, he does not share my dream. Neither does our 15 year old daughter. My husband came to the U.S. 15 years ago after [he] struggled through many hardships in Italy. Since then, he has excelled in all aspects of life. He tells me that he is not going back to Italy to work; he'll only consider retiring there. He's 39 and I'm 35. So you see, retirement is a long way off.

Everyone in my family is very discouraging. They tell me there is no work in Italy, it's too expensive, and there is no way you can make a life for yourself there. Despite all of these obstacles, I know in my heart that I MUST achieve my dream.

I feel I have sacrificed all these years for everyone but me. Sometimes I think the only thing keeping me in this country is my husband. My husband is a great parent, person, and provider. I want to live my dream with him and our daughter but I don't know how to achieve it. Sometimes I get angry and say, "That's it. I'm leaving everything behind and I'm going to concentrate in myself."

I love the Travel/Hospitality Industry, Theater/Opera/Costumes and anything relating to Italy. Do you have any suggestions?


Dear Angela,

I can certainly hear your frustration. A lot of people can identify with having an unsupportive family. At the same time, your challenge is different than someone who wants to quit their job to teach Italian cooking classes or pursue a passion for art. Although your family would still be impacted by a change in your finances, the fact that you want to pack up and move to another country does have a huge impact on their lives. 

It seems to me you have three choices: Convince your husband (and daughter) to make a permanent move to Italy (which doesn't seem likely). Leave your family and move by yourself (an extreme option and one that would surely put a damper on your dream). Or find some kind of middle ground. I suggest the latter.

It sounds like your husband isn't going to change his mind anytime soon. And although you have, as you say, been sacrificing for everyone else, you may need to adjust your dream so that everyone – including you – gets at least some of what they want. You get to spend more time in Italy and they get to live most of the time in the US.

You might, for example, establish a seasonal business or otherwise find a way to live and work in Italy just for the summer. Since your daughter would be out of school, she could join you and, depending on what you decide to do, perhaps even help you with the business. I don't know what kind of work your husband does, and therefore how flexible his schedule is, but hopefully he could at least join you mid-summer for a week or two. Or, if his work is portable, he could perhaps join you for most of the summer and run his business from Italy.

The good news here is that it's actually a lot easier for a non-resident to start a business in another country than it is to get a job. With offices in countries all over the world from Ghana to Germany, Australia to Albania, Mexico to Malaysia, The US Chamber of Commerce ( helps American small businesses owners succeed in the host country by facilitating access to decision makers, providing information, hosting networking events and more. You'll find this and other resources for people looking to live and work in another country in the Resources for a Change section of this issue.

What about the rest of the year? If you really do need to maintain a job for the benefits, try to find a position that would allow for summer's off. Look at a college or public school system. While most offices operate all year round, there are no doubt areas of campus or the school system where you may be able to work on a nine month schedule. Knowing you'd be spending three months in your beloved Italy would make your day job more tolerable.

Another option is to find a way to take shorter trips but more often. Since you love the travel and the tourism industry, you might, for instance, run some kind of tour four times a year. That way you would get your "Italy fix" every three months. Find some unique niche – like a costume tour where your client's get to take classes on costume design or tour costume houses or offer a behind the scenes opera tour.

Don't feel like enough of an expert? Become one! That's what guitarist Jeff Baxter did. This founding member of Steely Dan and a member of the Doobie Brothers band had a keen interest in weapons systems – an interest that began when he was researching music technology. A self-taught expert, Baxter read everything he could about weapons systems. Today, Baxter chairs the Congressional Advisory Board on Missile Defense and is a highly paid consultant for clients like Northrop Grumman and General Atomics. And, he still sports a pony tail. If a rock star can become a self-taught weapons expert, you can turn your interests into income too!

We know what your husband doesn't want – to move to Italy. But do you know what he DOES want? What are his dreams? If his work is already fulfilling, he may dream of getting a motorcycle or going to the World Cup or writing a screenplay. Sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk. Explain how much you love him and how much your dream means to you. Help your husband tap into his deeper passions and figure out a way he can get what he wants and ask for him to help you to do the same.

By reframing the challenge less in terms of how can you achieve your dream and thinking instead about creative ways all family members can get at least some of what they want, everyone wins! Ciao and good luck.



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About the Author

"Profiting From Your Passions®" expert Valerie Young abandoned her corporate cubicle to become the Dreamer in Residence at offering resources to help you discover your life mission and live it. Her career change tips have been cited in Kiplinger's, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today Weekend, Woman's Day, and elsewhere and on-line at MSN, CareerBuilder, and An expert on the Impostor Syndrome, Valerie has spoken on the topic of How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are to such diverse organizations as Daimler Chrysler, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Harvard, and American Women in Radio and Television.

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