What do you do when you wake-up each day, follow the normal steps of a morning routine to get out the door, cheerfully on your way to work, but you realize there is no cheer. In fact, you have been going through these motions for weeks, months, or dare I say, years with little joy. What happens? What do you do?
All the logical thoughts process in your mind:
- I can’t just quit, can I? What about money? What do I put on my resume?
- People depend on me. I can’t just pick up and leave.
- I’ll go back to school (again).
- If I stay at this employer for a few more months/years, I will reach X goal or anniversary.
- Did I just wake up as a Millennial?
Then, you begin to think further and you ask yourself deeper questions:
- How much risk am I willing to take on?
- Do I have the courage to make a change?
- How and what does life look like moving forward?
- Why not?
These thoughts played out most days for me in the last few years. The process was the same no matter how many times I answered the questions or tried to shut down the thought process. I’m not sure if this is normal. I don’t have a good sense if other people think this way. I can tell you, the conversation in my head was exhausting.
At times, I created grand plans – lofty ideas of what could be. I saw other people living my dreams and I thought, I must be able to make that happen. But somehow, I never took action. I’ve never even tried. I felt like I had an awful lot to lose if things did not work out.
Early in 2017, I started to take some steps to create a plan and explore ideas for a semi-unpredictable future. I know myself well enough to know, I always need a plan. I’m that person.
Some of the activities which helped me move forward included:
- Engaging a professional coach to help me think about my career and to help me understand my motivations and risk tolerance.
- Meeting with my financial advisor equipped with sketches of time abroad and a budget.
- Looking into long-stay visas: the costs, the process and the likelihood of securing a visa. I did this for a few countries; it helped me realize France was my preference.
- Sharing my tentative plans with a few friends and colleagues to gauge reaction and gain support.
My path to a year in France has been a process. It’s very exciting, yes. It’s also very scary. This is my starting point.