Do you ever look back and wonder if you would change your life if you had it to do over? Did I make the right choice? Was making difficult decisions worth it? It’s felt like we’ve had one hard decision after another without clear answers. As I look back and reflect, most of my regrets in the last 20 years are the times I played it safe and didn’t make bold decisions.
As a planner by nature, my comfort zone is really weird mix of safety in the status quo, peppered with some big risks and bold decisions. Like our financial advisor says, “You say you’re risk averse, but the financial choices you’ve actually made are for aggressive (aka risky) investments.”
And maybe that sums it up. I don’t like risk, but where there’s clear potential for the reward to outweigh the risk, then that’s worth it. I’ll go risky on investments, because the data shows that over the long term, there’s a much higher likelihood of success.
But when there’s no telling what’s going to happen and it’s tough decisions? I like to play it as safe as safe can be.
Until, I don’t…
When we went way outside my comfort zone
Several years ago we were in a rough spot. My husband was in a miserable job where he was overworked, underpaid, and highly stressed…with little hope on the horizon of that changing.
He had left a decent but low-paying job less than a year beforehand for a job with a startup. The startup seemed like it had a ton of potential.
We quickly learned that it didn’t.
At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom, freelancing part time on the side. Our boys were 18 months and barely three. I had recently landed myself in counseling and on medication for severe anxiety. Separately, our church world and social life were crumbling around us. Overall, life felt pretty bleak and homeless.
Somewhat out of the blue, Charles got a call from a guy that he had done some freelance work for a few years prior. They had loosely stayed in touch over time. The last time he reached out, Charles was happily employed so it didn’t make sense to take on the freelance work. This time was different.
It went something like this…
There was some short term freelance work, and this individual wondered if Charles could help out. We were desperate for some extra cash, and any potential way out of our current situation, so Charles asked when and how long.
How long? Unknown.
Charles got off work that day around 5pm, stopped by a store to pick up some work-appropriate footwear and headed to the freelance job. He was there until 2am. This continued for a few days. He finally took the extreme measure of calling in sick to his day job to finish up a deadline.
Note: I do not recommend this in 99.99% of cases. Never actually, unless you’re ready and willing to walk away from the job you’re calling in sick to. In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, this was one of those times.
Charles was asked if he could stay on and work more hours at the freelance gig. He could offer a guarantee of 24 hours per week for around 3 months.
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A hard decision…or not?
You guys, this was crazy for us to even consider.
Charles was the breadwinner. My freelance work was barely covering necessary childcare for me to work. I was sleep-deprived and in a poor enough mental space that it didn’t seem like it was going to change that any time soon.
For some reason, me with the severe anxiety was fine with taking this leap. It didn’t seem like a hard decision. Maybe it was supernatural peace from God. Maybe things were simply so bad where we were that the alternative didn’t seem like it could be any worse. Probably it was a bit of both.
Three months later, we sold our house to move closer to the job Charles had been averaging 50-60 hours a week working on. He’d end up staying there for almost three years. That job led to his next, which led to his next, which led to where he is today. It pivoted his career in ways we couldn’t have imagined.
In those same three months, at the encouragement of both Charles and my therapist, I went back to work full-time. It was absolutely the right decision for my mental health, our family health, and our finances. I started my new job a week before we moved. Because when we leap, we leap big.
Take a leap, change your life
Fast forward to 2020, and it’s no exaggeration to say that the incredibly risk-filled bold decisions we made in that three month time span changed the trajectory of both of our careers, and by extension our whole lives.
All four of us have grown, and changed, and struggled, and thrived in various ways.
As we live through an unprecedented global pandemic, with myriads of difficult choices thrust upon all of us, what risk and hard decision sits in front of you today?
Is it time to make a leap into the unknown and change your life?
As I sit here today, we have some big unknowns and more than one hard decision ahead of us. I’m sure you do too. It’s beyond easy to get caught up in the worry, the stress, and the what-ifs. It’s in my very nature to plan, plan contingencies and think through possible outcomes.
What does it look like to simply let go, and roll with life? Don’t over think it. Take one hard decision at a time.