Sitting with my wife in our sixth floor, one-bedroom apartment, I’m shocked at how much has changed from a year ago.

Last year, we were recovering from losing Judy’s dad, which caused us to consider downsizing our Houston home that once held six of us. Our kids are all in their twenties and were becoming more independent. It forced us to reevaluate what we as a couple should do next.

Then one morning in April, an email from Cupertino started us down a dramatic new path.

It wasn’t easy to give up being an indie developer who controls his own world for a job as an engineer working under layers of management. The latter gives me the opportunity to be part of a company that I’ve always admired and challenges me every day to become more proficient. It took weeks of conversations and decisions and baby steps to settle on the final choice. In the end was a good choice… no, a great choice.

Here are just a few of the dramatic differences in our lives today:

  • We moved from a large five bedroom house in the suburbs to a modest one bedroom, sixth floor apartment in the city.
  • Our house had five and a half bathrooms; now we only have one in our apartment—arguably our most life-altering friggin’ change!
  • We went from five cars in our driveway and taking occasional walks for exercise to having no cars and our feet being our primary mode of transportation.
  • Almost all the restaurants in The Woodlands were big chains and now we eat at places where we get greeted by the owners.
  • History and architecture surround us in San Francisco (even our apartment building was completed back in 1927). In North Houston, a historic building is from the 1970s.
  • We no longer drive to Kroger and load up the trunk with groceries for the week. Instead, we walk to Whole Foods or Mollie Stone’s with our reusable bags and carry what we can back up the hills.

I could go on to mention so many more changes in our lives, but no one wants to read a post that long. The point I’m trying to make is that after 50+ years of suburban habits, I’ve had to rethink everything. These changes strike me most when I think about my parents when they were in their fifties. Would they have rebooted their lives like this? Could they have?

After surviving this transition, I can’t help but see it as an enormous gift. A chance to act differently, make different choices, and force myself to not fall back on old habits. As scary as this leap was—so scary that I almost backed out a few times—it’s been so good for us and our family. I hope it has inspired our children to take chances and leaps of faith in their lives.

Fear of the unknown and fear of failure are always going to be battles for me, but I’ve won quite a few this year and my reward is this amazing new life with my loving wife.