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Have you ever packed up all your stuff into boxes and a truck and moved across town or across the country? My wife and I did that just six months ago – moving nearly a thousand miles from Memphis, TN to a small town an hour west of Washington, DC.

And it was through that process that I realized that many things I know about e-learning I learned from moving!

Everyone moves for different reasons, a job, family, or just looking to be in a different local. Once we knew that moving was the best solution for us, we had to pack. We began the almost impossible task of taking the ‘stuff’ of the past 10 years of our life and cramming it into a 26-foot long U-Haul truck.

“What do you take? What’s absolutely necessary? What’s nice to have if space allows? And what’s just pure junk that can be donated or discarded?” And, most importantly, who decides what to keep and what to throw out?

Once you have sorted, you start to pack. Boxes of different sizes and shapes? Specialty boxes for televisions, artwork, and hanging clothes? If we failed to match the content with the most appropriately method of delivering it, we could have had a lot of broken stuff and, quite honestly, failed to achieve our goal.

Then it came time to pack the truck. It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Now, I’m no expert at packing trucks – especially when it comes to moving a considerable distance. This is where I called in professional help – two strapping 20-something year old men to do all of the heaving lifting – whose expertise was in the packing and moving industry. They did what my wife and I couldn’t – because they knew how to do it. Had we not recognized our own limitations and the need to call in the professionals, it could have been a disaster.

After the vehicles were loaded and we began the trip, we had to consider all the possible routes. The “best” driving route would have us head straight across Tennessee to the east coast, then due north. There was, however, the likelihood of a tropical storm approaching the coast during our drive, so we planned a more western alternative route. By identifying and considering all routes to getting to our destination we bypassed possible problems that would have derailed our project.

Of course, then a wrench was thrown in our plans. It took us two months of our house being on the market to get an offer – an offer which we received and accepted less than a week before we were taking a non-refundable 9-day cruise! That would leave us with only a week after the cruise to pack up our 3,000 square foot house. That was just one huge unexpected obstacle to plan around . . . not the cruise itself, mind you, but the timing of it all.

Now, this journey seems like it was pretty straightforward, step-by-step, right? Nope! Not at all. We also had quite a taste of the iterative process. After the professional packers were about 3/4th of the way filling the truck, they came to my wife and me, pointed to what we had left and said, “It ain’t all gonna’ fit!” Now, at the last moment, we had to strip out some remaining content. Even more content. Content that we thought was important. It had to go!

Back when we realized we were not where we wanted to be, we knew we needed a plan to figure out a way to get there. We put an idea into place, took only what we absolutely needed and got rid of the rest. We packed it up carefully, matching the content to its container, and we called in the professionals for the parts we knew we could not handle ourselves. We planned for what contingencies we could foresee. We also encountered and dealt with some unexpected issues as they arose along the way. And through it all, we worked through an iterative process that continued even after we arrived.

And in the end, it was worth the trip! 

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