Enjoying Your Work

Richard Brislin

Monday, July 21, 2003

People are both
pushed and pulled
when moving to Hawaii

Having lived in Hawaii for more than 30 years, I have known people who have moved here and have found happiness. In addition, I have known people who thought that they would be "living the dream" by moving to Hawaii. However, some of these people left after about a year, sometimes with a reasonable number of fond memories and sometimes not.

I have tried to identity reasons why people stay and why people leave. I'll discuss unmarried people and young couples without children, groups for whom the complex issues surrounding Hawaii's public schools are often not a major part of their decision making.

When people move from one community to another, there are both "push" and "pull" factors. People move away from a place because of reasons that push them. People move to a place because of reasons that pull them. I'll discuss factors that push this week and will analyze various pull reasons in next Monday's column.

Young adults sometimes are pushed from the communities where they were raised so that they can create individual identities. Back home, they may feel smothered by the reputations of their parents and relatives and may feel that they do not have identities separate from their families. Young adults may also find themselves at odds with parents and relatives over too many issues. Consequently, a move to another community may be seen as leading to less bickering and less stress.

After people arrive in a new community, they often become homesick. They find themselves making the same adjustments to adulthood that their parents once made. All of a sudden, the advice of their parents seems relevant and not as antiquated as once thought. The old adage, "My parents became smarter as I grew older," comes to mind. People also miss their families, and the corny magic tricks that Uncle Frank performed at each family gathering become fond memories rather than reasons to groan. Because they find new attractiveness in their old communities, they sometimes leave Hawaii with a new appreciation of their personal histories.

As people adjust to Hawaii, certain features may become push factors that lead them to consider a move back to their original communities. A major push-from-Hawaii factor is the cost of living. People thought they could survive on the salaries they were offered, but find that they can barely pay their bills and discover they have no funds for a savings account.

Other push factors involve human behavior. People from the mainland United States often bring a very direct style of communication when they have criticisms to offer. Long-time residents of Hawaii often see this style as unpleasant and abrasive. If recent arrivals are unable to modify their intense directness into the softer communication style common in Hawaii, they will not be able to form good working relationships with locals. The absence of good interpersonal ties becomes another push factor that moves people back to the mainland.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

The purpose of this column is to increase understanding of
human behavior as it has an impact on the workplace. Given the amount
of time people spend at work, job satisfaction should ideally be high and
it should contribute to general life happiness. Enjoyment can increase as
people learn more about workplace psychology, communication, and group influences.

Richard Brislin is a professor in the College of Business Administration,
University of Hawaii. He can be reached through the
College Relations Office:


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