Sunday, February 19, 2006

What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today, I was lying down in our guest room in our little house in Wheaton, Illinois. I was reading a mystery and I had a dog snuggled down on either side of me. I was content and comfortable. It was the Sunday of a three-day weekend and I was looking forward to spending another day home with Peter. He’d been away in Ireland from 1 Feb until the 14 Feb and I was enjoying having him back in the house.

Peter trudged into the room and clambered up on the bed, moving Caper from my left side so he could snuggle next to me. I thought he might just be done with playing his computer game or he might want some company. He started to talk about how unhappy he was, which wasn’t news to me. He’d been at the same job for five years and although he enjoyed his co-workers, he wasn’t passionate about his work and he felt like he was getting old and boring and that life was slipping past him.

It was also difficult because although he’d made some great pals, he didn’t have the kind of friends he had in Dublin. To spend two weeks with these friends, attend his friend’s wedding, and then return to cold, dark Wheaton and a job that made him miserable was overwhelming.

We talked through some of the possible options before I hit on the obvious.

Me: “Why don’t we just put the house on the market and move back to Dublin?”
Him: “That’s a bold plan for such a little girl.”

It was a bold plan, but it made a lot of sense. In the space of several minutes, we made a decision that changed our lives. It was an odd decision in that on the surface, it was the mother of all snap-decisions. But we’d always said we’d move back some day and it was crystal clear that if some day wasn’t NOW, then it was always going to be some day.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that when something isn’t working, you have to do something to fix it, even if it is a big, scary, unknown, leap of faith sort of something. Living in America wasn’t working for us anymore, so it was time to go. It was difficult to give up our pets, our house, our pastimes, but it was the right thing to do.

Even though it was the right thing to do, it continues to be difficult sometimes. I miss our house in an aching, physical way that surprises me. I miss my friends and the barn. Peter misses flying and having a good, steady income.

But what we’ve gained balances out what we left behind. Peter has his friends. We have a much more active social life. I’ve been fortunate to develop real relationships with Peter’s parents. We’re able to watch our nieces grow up. I have a new job and Peter has a new business with all of its rewards and challenges. We’re able to travel to interesting places.

Yesterday, I read a blog post about a study on decision making. The study found that people who thought too much about a decision were liable to make decisions they later regretted whereas people who considered the alternatives, slept on it, and then made the decision were happier. The hypothesis was that conscious thinking tends to focus only on a subset of considerations, which gives those considerations undue weight in the decision-making process. Unconscious thinking appears to have the ability to allow you to more fully process all the considerations and then make more sound decisions.

If we’d thought too much about our decision, we might have decided to wait longer to move. We might have focused too much about the intricacies of moving, the decrease in income, the high cost of property, or some other single item. But just assessing the situation at a gut level, we knew it was rubber-meets-the-road time.

I don’t regret our decision. A year ago, it was a scary leap of faith. A year later, things are probably not exactly what I expected, but we’re doing well.


At 20 February 2006 at 20:39, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

It takes courage to make such a change. That is admirable.

At 21 February 2006 at 14:18, Blogger Arbusto said...

I'm moving to London right this moment!

At 24 February 2006 at 18:07, Blogger -Ann said...

Jack - It's either brave or stupid. I can't decide. :)

Arbusto - I lived in London for a summer. Lots of fun but SO expensive.


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