“People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.” ~John Porter
The conversation about how to make decisions has come up quite a lot in the last few weeks. Making big, life-changing choices is something I always struggle with initially, for fear of making the wrong one. But for some reason, others have come to me for advice on their own crossroads, as a result of reading this blog. I’m honored, flattered even, but afraid I don’t have easy answers to their questions.
I too still debate for weeks on end, like my recent tough choice to give up my summer dream of becoming a whitewater rafting guide, which wasn’t even a life-altering decision. However, I’ve received so many similar requests for advice — like this one from a reader who dreams of teaching abroad but fears taking the plunge — I decided to answer it for all:
But back to the fear stuff.
Whenever I have a big, scary decision to make, I ask myself this: Will I regret this later? I choose to live my life with no regrets, and I’m doing pretty good so far. I think we know ourselves well enough to look at both sides of the spectrum and see which one we might regret later. If teaching abroad and seeing the world is a burning desire and it consumes all of your daily thoughts, I’m willing to bet NOT doing it will be a lifelong regret.
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” ~ Seth Godin
Another thing that helps me make decisions is to tell myself that nothing is permanent. It seems to be the commitment factor that scares me so, and by telling myself that I can always come back home if I hate it, or I can always change plans if I decide to, whatever if may be, I feel so much better about ripping off the Band-Aid and just going for it. Don’t let the contractual commitment scare you. Tell yourself it’s only 5 months (and if it’s less, who cares?), and that if your boyfriend loves you, he’ll want you to follow your dreams. Believe that when you’re ready to come home, you’ll know what you want to do and how to do it and it will all work out. Everything works out how it should in the end. All those other things – like not knowing the language and doing it alone – they will work themselves out. The best part of traveling alone is the triumph when you succeed at having a conversation with hand signals, of getting on a bus and pointing to a map and actually arriving where you want to go, of making new friends in faraway places…
You’ll never know unless you go.
Need a little more inspiration? Click here to read my favorite travel quotes, like this one:
“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ~Stephen King
Facing Your Fears: On Deciding to Teach English Abroad