How closing one door can lead to a life never imagined
What is your relationship with risk?
In life we are faced with decisions. We can take the option we know most about. We may have an idea how the situation will turn out. Or we may be better prepared to face the reality of one choice over another. Or we can choose the risky option.
Taking a risk… Less is known about this path. We may experience loss of some kind, or we may have less control over the outcome.
I know I enjoy stability and security. Perhaps it is because I am a dreamer and a planner. I like to think up my future and work out how to create it. But there have been times in my life where I have embraced risk. These times have often rewarded me with rich experiences and memories that I continue to cherish.
One of the biggest risks I have taken is a few years ago. My husband and I felt we were stuck in a rut. Each week we followed the same routine. Working in jobs that took more than they gave. Spending weekends feeling drained from the daily grind through the week that had just been.
During a holiday we realised we wanted to live overseas. It was something that had bounced in each of our minds for many years. But we had always chosen security and financial stability as our preference. We worked hard to get ahead and build assets for our future. While we were successful in that aspect, we were not fulfilled.
It is true that money does not buy happiness. But do you know what can buy happiness?
Life is a series of experiences. And we have the ability to choose. We can choose the known. Or we can choose taking a risk.
Because of the routines we follow, we often forget that life is an ongoing adventure. Maya Angelou
While we were on this holiday we decided to make plans to live overseas once we returned home.
While we knew there were risks, it was a force greater inside that compelled us to choose risk at that point.
What were we risking?
We risked our savings. Our potential future financial security. We risked leaving behind a lovely home and stable careers. We also risked having difficulty re-establishing ourselves when we returned.
However, we knew that the greater risk we faced was if we decided to continue as we had been going. We were both unhappy.
The security that we once enjoyed and worked so hard for was holding us back. Instead, the security felt like walls around us, rather than a stable floor beneath.
It was time to change it up. Time to take a risk and leave behind security, and instead choose our own adventure.
We did not want to face a future filled with regret by not experiencing an overseas working holiday. So, we packed up, sold a whole lot our possessions, quit our jobs and took off.
While we both usually plan our future, the extent of our plan was – we are going. Friends and family asked how long we would be gone for. We said we didn’t know.
The freedom ahead of us was exciting. It was invigorating. It provided us a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for life.
But we did not know what we would face. We chose to move somewhere where we did not know anyone. With no connections or networks to rely on. No knowledge of the local job market or housing market, or cost of living.
We planned our first few nights of accommodation and decided to wing the rest once we got there. This was no longer a time to continue as we had before. Planning and being conservative and cautious got us somewhere. But if we weren’t enjoying that somewhere, we needed to be elsewhere.
What happened next?
In short – we had the time of our life!
It was not all fun and good times though. We struggled at times without having a support network close by. There were events we missed in our friends and family’s lives. The distance was difficult at times.
We also found that it was harder to get jobs in our chosen profession overseas. I could not get a job. All my career I had found it easy to go from one role to the next. Overseas, I did not even get called for an interview.
So, we changed things up and decided to work casual roles instead and move around. We continued on our risk-taking, adventure-making path.
Again, we faced difficulties finding jobs, or finding accommodation where we could get jobs.
But this was all part of the experience. Ultimately, we knew at any time we could return home and start out again.
While on our holiday we saw the most stunning scenery. Met some wonderful people. Cherished so much quality time together. We enjoyed living our life – a life we could never have imagined when we were stuck in our 9-5 routine that was dragging us down.
I would never trade the savings lost for the experience I gained.
What did we learn?
Take risks in your life.
If you win, you can lead.
If you lose, you can guide.
– Swami Vivekananda
This experience reinforced to me that life does not always have to follow the logical next step. And, it is better to take a risk, than to stay in a rut. Wearing a well-worn path in a rut only makes it harder to move out of it.
Taking a risk removes the barriers and self-imposed walls we set for ourselves.
Not all risks have to be as big as quitting a job and moving overseas. But it is a wonderful experience – to take a risk and see how you go. Backing yourself. Feeling absolute optimism for your future. Embracing the fear and uncertainty, and forging ahead.
These days I love reminders through social media of what we were doing this time X years ago. It is a fun look back on our experience. But it is also a meaningful reminder that when we take risks we can create a beautiful life and make unique memories that our 80-year old selves would be proud of.
What risks have you taken? What lessons did you learn? Let me know in the comments below. I would love to know.