Many people called me brave, some courageous. Some would tell me how they’d thought about doing what we were doing, talked at length with their husband about it, but hadn’t acted yet. Some I also know would have called me shortsighted and naive. Why start a business, invest a lot of hard-earned money and close 90% of it 3 years later, just when success and profit were starting to appear.
Well, in hindsight things are super clear, aren’t they? Or at least, they’re clearer than they were when you were in the thick of it. But the truth is, we needed out. We needed change. We needed less stress. We needed something more that took less of us. And thankfully, we were able to craft an option out. It required a lot of hard work, but no more than we used to. We had a get out of jail free card, and we played it.
That card came in the shape of a beautiful house that we were able to rent and combined with some savings, worked out to be enough to live on for at least a year, while we said adios to everything we knew. Of course, the logistics were complex and the to-do lists endless. But when you want something that bad, you move mountains to make it happen and don’t really take no for an answer. Well at least, I don’t. Must be the stubborn Dutch in me.
Since we moved away from our home and life in Melbourne, and I’ve been sharing our story on my blog, I get lots of people who reach out to ask for advice, about making changes in their own lives. I believe we all live with things we would like to change, and it’s not always easy to make them. Sometimes the things we need to change are small but oh so niggly and are difficult to shift. Sometimes they’re big – careers, moves, adventure seeking – and these take time & careful planning to make happen.
When I look back, I can see that I learned ‘change’ through my life and perhaps for that reason, it comes more easily. I moved a few times as a kid, but always felt comfortable with the move and supported by my parents. I saw it as an adventure going to a new school, riding the bus & subway on my own and I’m sure my parents carefully crafted that, but it was empowering. When we moved as a teenager, I was given the choice to stay in my high school for my last year. That gave me control over what could have been a difficult situation for a teenager. So when my engagement broke down in my early 20’s, I picked myself up, made plans to follow an early dream and within months I moved to Australia. So packing up a business, house and 3 boys didn’t seem so hard as my life had prepared me for this and taught me about resilience along the way.
When responding to questions about making big changes, I often suggest that people do the old fashioned pros & cons list. Physically writing out this list helps you see what you might not visualise in your mind and break down barriers you thought existed, but actually, don’t. The other tip is to write down all of the things that could go wrong if you follow through with the change. What you will often see is that the list of potential hazards and things that could go wrong are easily righted or fixed, should they need to be. This risk assessment will often help fill you with hope and positivity, as you start to realise that if you hate the decision you’ve made, you can usually fix it.
Even our bank made this assessment when I took out a business loan. My business banker said, well the worse case is your business doesn’t work, you have to go back to work and you pay off the loan after you go back to work. Simplified yes, but reality? Yes. We knew that if we weren’t happy with our move to France, that we could go back home. Yes, our house is rented but we could rent something else. Not the end of the world. Schools, logistics, furniture, well that would be unravelled if it needed to be. Not insurmountable. Our risk assessment filled us with confidence that we could even change our minds about moving to the other side of the world if we wanted to.
If you leave a job to follow a dream, the worst that could happen is it doesn’t work. But guess what? You tried. You learned. You grew. You gained confidence and I guarantee you, you’ll get another job or even a better job if you had to. Just one last word of advice. Don’t over-think it. Get out of your head and get onto your list – you have plans to make and life doesn’t stop and wait for you!
So of course, I’m a change advocate. A leap-taker positivist. I love it when people try new things. Follow a dream or stop something they hate doing. I also love that our story can help inspire others. Learning about how others are improving their lives with change and are living their best life, motivates me to keep sharing and helping others do the same.