Taking the Plunge, One Toe at a Time
This week I get the pleasure of sharing the thoughts and wisdom of my dear friend, Danielle Owens, a blogger and world traveler. Here she talks about the challenges of making big decisions, and some tips she's learned along the way.
My apologies to our friends, family and cornered guests at dinner parties for conversations had between 2008 and 2014, because it’s highly likely my husband and I talked your ear off about wanting to live abroad. Or quit our jobs and travel for a year. Or volunteer long-term with a foreign NGO. We bounced myriad scenarios off anyone who would listen, without actually doing anything about it.
Fast forward a couple of years and Cody and I have finished a two year work assignment in Bogotá, Colombia. This summer was spent on a temporary contract in Madrid, Spain, and we’re about to embark out on another long term work related adventure.
The weeks leading up to that first move are a blur, but the moment we took the first step remains crystal clear. I wish I could tell you about the courage and decisiveness we had in regards to our decision to move abroad. Instead, it was more of an exasperated dare on my part.
One weekend afternoon when conversation drifted to our theoretical future, I said we had to take some sort of action or put the whole idea of travel/living abroad to bed for awhile. So, we put a date on our dream. Three months later, on the exact agreed upon deadline, was the first baby step: Cody told his boss he wanted to throw his hat in the ring for an international opportunity with his company. We were living in Colombia less than six months later.
The idea of making big decisions hasn’t exactly become less daunting—we’re still the same people who talk scenarios to death and take our time inching toward action. But, I have learned a few things that give me confidence when my toes are curling over the edge of the pool.
- I believe that God gives us each unique desires and prods us toward them. Our wish to travel and be abroad kept bubbling up inside us for a reason—God was prodding us in the direction we were meant to go. As soon as we stepped forward, He rushed in to meet us.
- It’s ok if it’s hard. I struggled to adjust during our first few months of living abroad. I struggled to adjust again this summer in Madrid. Stepping outside of your comfort zone feels awkward, but that isn’t necessarily a sign to turn back. Even through the challenges I could find brightness, because I knew I was where I was supposed to be.
- Everyone does it differently. Living all over the world has allowed us to see that there are as many different dreams and life paths and versions of success as there are people. There’s no one way toward your goal. It’s ok to dive right in, but don’t beat yourself up if you’d rather dip your toes first.
So whether your preference is leans toward tip-toeing or taking giant leaps, here’s to moving closer to where we’re meant to be.
Danielle is the creator of NoLongerNative.com, a blog dedicated to the many challenges, perks, and pitfalls of expat life.