When making the decision to relocate, there are many complicated factors to consider. You may be leaving friends, family, and a job you love behind. You could be moving from a big city to the suburbs, or countryside and encounter a new world you’re vastly unfamiliar with. Maybe you’re married, and this seems like a great move for your spouse, but you’re wondering what’s the benefit for you, besides accompanying your spouse?
As you struggle with the decision of whether to move, or, perhaps it’s why to move, I’d like to offer a great resource I’ve found when it comes to making big decisions. Debbie Ford, a Life Coach, wrote a great book called,”The Right Questions”. It offers some excellent strategies that can help with these decisions. (Note: I do not know Debbie or get any proceeds from her book! This is just an honest review of a book I’ve found excellent in trying times, and one that I’d like to recommend to you!) And, generally speaking, this is an excellent book if you’re not good at making decisions, or are confronted with a very difficult one and need some help.
In a nutshell, Ms. Ford suggests approaching difficult decisions with a core set of questions. I’ve summarized the ones I feel are most relevant to a relocation, but her book suggests a few others you might also find of use. I’ll distinguish between the “Expat” and “Trailing Spouse” where necessary.
1. Will this help me reach the future I am wishing for, or does it leave me stuck in the past? In other words – if you have a goal for yourself, or your family, will this move help bring you towards that goal, or, can you work together to create a new, joint goal for your family? This one is great to ask together, as a family, and also individually. Ms. Ford makes the point that decisions based on fear keep you rooted in the past, whereas those that you make to support your dreams give you a sense of empowerment.
2. Will this decision bring you long term fulfillment, or short-term gratification? Expat – does this move create a long-term, enriching experience for you (and your family) or is it something you’ll tire of after a few months? Trailing Spouse – consider the scenarios of going, and staying. Even if you have a great job that you’re giving up, is that job giving you enough satisfaction and money that you want to stay – or could there be new opportunity for you someplace else, if you were willing to try?
3. Am I doing what’s best for me, or trying to please someone else? Expat – do you really want or need this move (in a rough economy, the financial aspects may, of course, be the deciding factor) or are you doing this to please your boss or someone else? Trailing Spouse – are you saying “yes” to please your spouse, or “no” to please your friends and family? You may have a tougher time figuring out your own thoughts on this one, if you find yourself pulled in different directions by different family members. If that’s the case, take some time alone to devote to figuring out what is best for YOU in spite of what’s best for anyone else. Of course, you want to consider your goals, as well as those of your spouse/children in the process, but hearing your own voice amid all the others is key.
4. Am I seeing what’s right, or trying to figure out what’s wrong? Expat – when you get the opportunity, if you considered all the downsides, have you also considered the positive aspects of this move? For example, maybe there’s better education opportunities for your kids, or if you don’t know whether you can return to your present job after the Expat experience, maybe there’s opportunity for a new career path. Trailing Spouse – are you thinking only of everything you have to give up in this move, or have you considered the opportunities that could open up, and where those might take you?
5. Does this choice excite me, or deplete me of energy? This is a great piece to tune into – if you’ve made the decision to go, and feel excited, even though you have some fears and doubts, then you know you’re headed in the right direction. If however, the decision to stay/leave causes you to end up feeling drained, exhausted, and frustrated, it may be an indicator that something deeper than your conscious thoughts is calling for your attention.
6. Will this help me grow as a person, or will I use it as a way to beat myself up? This question is especially relevant if you decided to relocate and you end up disappointed. As the Expat, perhaps you end up disappointed with the work experience. As the trailing spouse, perhaps you don’t find the opportunities you thought you would. So, you have the choice, at that point, to beat yourself up, blame yourself for making a lousy decision, and either turn back, or be miserable. OR, you can accept that the experience didn’t turn out how you expected, and it’s not your fault. Then, you can decide whether to give up, or, truly take a look at the experience and decide if there’s something you can do to make it more joyful. Knowing that you hold the keys to your own empowerment allows you create the outcome you want, and that will make you truly happy.
7. Is this an act of faith, or an act of fear? This is so important, and really the core message of your decision. The choice to stay, or remain, will no doubt bring up fears, as change often does. It may bring up excitement, too. However, at the end of the day, if you choose to take, or turn down, this relocation opportunity out of fear, you will end up dis-empowered, and perhaps sabotage the experience. If, however, you act from faith, knowing and accepting that there may be hard times, you will open doors for yourself, and know that, even in the low moments, you’ll find a way forward.
Of course, there’s many points to consider beyond this such as education, health care, bureaucracy, cost of living, etc. But I offer you these excellent thinking points from which to start your decision process. I think the main benefit of asking these questions is that you get to realize this is a conscious decision, made by you. This in turn empowers you to take responsibility to make the experience the best it can be, even in the rough spots.
If you found these tips helpful, you might want to take a look at “The Right Questions” to learn more about this questioning process. You may also enjoy the tips and strategies about relocating successfully, offered in my How To Feel at Home Anywhere in the World report, and mp3 affirmation file available at culturetransition.com.