Your Next Big Adventure: Is Fear of Change Holding You Back?

Some Decisions are Only Difficult Until We Make Them

By Dave Fox

“Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

– Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

When opportunity strikes, you must be ready to jump (for example, when your wife wants to take a selfie and she can't see what you're doing behind her.)

When opportunity strikes, you must be ready to jump (for example, when your wife wants to take a selfie and she can’t see what you’re doing behind her.)

Kattina and I weren’t planning to move to Vietnam. We were planning to stay in Singapore another year – partly because we were both seeing potential professional opportunities on the horizon here, partly because until last week, staying seemed like the more secure, financially wise route.

Our decision to uproot our lives was based on an unexpected and sudden opportunity. We had to do some fast thinking, and endure a stressful week of deliberations.

As we weighed our options, we worked ourselves into a foaming-at-the-mouth frenzy of worry. What if we made the wrong decision?

Then, just when our synapses seemed totally fried, we realized something: We were not going to make a bad decision. That was not possible. We were choosing between two good things. They were two very different things, two radically different lifestyles, but neither would be a bad choice.

Realizing this gave us some needed calm. Once we relaxed, our decision came more easily.

Just pick somewhere and GO!

Just pick somewhere and GO!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of telling ourselves one choice is good and the other is bad. Travelers do this all the time. When I worked as a travel consultant for Rick Steves, I frequently encountered people who were taking all the joy out of their vacation planning by torturing themselves with this “right-or-wrong” sort of thinking. Paris, Rome, or Istanbul? They’d turn that enviable conundrum into a crisis.

My advice was always: Stop worrying and pick something. You’re choosing between amazing places. Dive into one and enjoy it!

Big life changes get more complicated. Amazing opportunities can feel terrifying. It’s easier to choose the security of what you’re used to over plunging into something new. But once we commit to doing something bold, our thinking shifts and it all feels right.

Kattina’s and my decision to move to Vietnam was terrifying – until we made it. Now that we’ve crossed the line and committed, we are thrilled, and counting the weeks until moving day in July.

Keep this in mind the next time you’re weighing big life choices: Every decision has a before and an after. The after often feels great once you’re there. It’s a very different feeling from being in the before, fretting about the after.

As excited as Kattina and I are about our move, we’re still a little nervous. We’re facing big lifestyle changes. Saigon is a city we know well, a city we love, a city where we already have a network of fantastic friends – people we’ve met on our many visits there. Moving there, however, is a job change for Kattina, a freelance reshuffling for me as I move my writer-coaching services to a non-English-speaking country.

Learning to ride a motorbike in Saigon traffic ... still terrifies me.

Learning to ride a motorbike in Saigon traffic … still terrifies me.

There’s a lot we don’t know yet – about finding a place to live, health-care services, business licensing for the things I want to do, and a long list of other stuff we’re wondering about. (And don’t get me started on my dread of having to learn how to ride a motorbike in Saigon traffic.)

But we’ve made international moves before. We’ll figure it all out.

Living in Saigon has been a dream of mine for several years. It’s an idea that enters my brain every time I go there. So, yes, we had hesitations, but every time they surfaced, a voice in my head began yelping, “Dude! Don’t be an idiot! You’ll figure it all out when you get there! Go!”

Why should you care about this? Because if you’re normal (or, better yet, abnormal in a good way, like me), you probably have big wild dreams you can accomplish – but accomplishing them requires taking risks, and popping your current bubble of stability. I’m not anti-stability, but sometimes it’s worth letting go of.

Our pals, Matt and Deb Preston of Travel With a Mate, gave us good advice a couple of weeks ago when we were wrestling with our decision. They asked us: Which of the two options – staying in Singapore or moving to Vietnam – will leave us wondering afterward, “What if we had made the other decision?” Which option would leave us with more “I wish I knew what would have happened if I had done that” regret?

Ponder that question the next time you’re floating between staying where you are or trying something new. It might help you decide.

But be ready to at least consider leaping when opportunities present themselves. And go looking for opportunities. They don’t always present themselves on their own.

What’s your wildest, boldest, and/or scariest dream ? Do you or don’t you think you’ll pursue it in the coming year or beyond? Why or why not? What kind of help or knowledge do you need to make it happen?  Or have you already started working on it, and if so, how’s it going? Tell us about it in the comment section below! 

(Or if you prefer to remain anonymous, feel free to drop me an e-mail. Maybe I can help you make the next step.)

Published on Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3 Responses to “Your Next Big Adventure: Is Fear of Change Holding You Back?”

  1. December 16, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    Wonderful article, Dave. I am in 100% agreement with you on this.
    We sold the house, bought a boat, moved aboard and are full-time cruisers now. No home port, nada, zilch.
    Next step is making the HUGE decision to cross the stream, left or right i’m not sure which, but leaving the “comfort” the the good-old U S of A.
    What will hold us back is aging parents, but there are always flights back, right?
    LOVE the idea that there are no “bad” decisions, just a choice between good ones!!!! Thanks!

    • December 16, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      Jules, I thought of you and your sailing adventures after I wrote this. Yes, there are always flights back. And I say go right until you hit Vietnam. (Or would that be left? I struggle with my sense of direction.)

  2. December 17, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    I was introduces to your blog this morning by married with luggage. More specifically Betsy. This is a great article and very well written. I learned later in life to stop weighing all the options and just go with my thoughts being careful not to be foolhardy. It always works out despite the challenges.

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