In a previous blog, I talked about the non-negotiables list – a way to help clarify your thinking around relocation. If you haven’t read it, I would recommend taking a look, as this blog is going to discuss what happens when your decision to relocate affects other people. Because you may have made your list and you may know exactly what you want (good work!), but if your partner and/or family are coming too, how do you make sure your relocation is going to work for everyone? Here are three steps to keep you all on the right track.
Step One: Lists really do help
If you are moving with a Significant Other and perhaps with kids, then their non-negotiables must also be included for things to work. So ask your partner to make a list too, and then also make a list of what is important to your children. They can of course have input (the older, the more), but it’s important that as parents, you take responsibility for the choices you make for your family. It’s helpful to let your kids know that ultimately you will make the big decisions (where and whether to go), but they can have input in the smaller ones (what to take, for instance). Communicate that it’s your job to make sure everyone will get what they really need, and if you can, you will do your best to include what they want.
Step Two: Don't try to persuade the other person. And don’t assume you know what they mean...
Do not compromise with your partner on the non-negotiables. If you say yes to something because that’s what the other person wants, you’ll end up in trouble with yourself or your relationship. And that goes both ways of course. So don’t persuade, but do make sure you understand each other by defining what you mean. For example, if your non-negotiables list says ‘close to a sizable city’, what does this mean in terms of getting there? As far as I’m concerned, half an hour’s drive means close, but your partner may understand close as meaning something entirely different (in the outskirts with accessible public transport? 2 hours away?). If you don’t discuss the details, they are likely to cause stress and misunderstandings later on. So what do you mean by ‘having a lot of space’? A nice view? A 500m2 garden? 10 hectares of forest? A wood nearby? Make sure you ask these questions, even if you think you know what the other person means. It is amazing how often we assume we know and find out later there was an important nuance we missed. So don’t push your ideas, instead talk them through and get clarity around what your wants and needs mean for both of you.
Step Three: Look for a win-win (and give yourself time)
You may find that your needs are quite far apart. And it may seem that you can’t get there without compromising. Don’t despair. Don’t try to find the perfect solution, but look at what might work. If you hold on to a very precise idea of what you want, chances are that nothing will match this exactly. So it’s helpful to stick to the big picture. For example, it’s far more difficult to find a stone house with a porch and a magnolia in the front garden, than a ‘nice place to live’. So be open to what presents itself. It may not look like the idea in your head, but it might match all your requirements and therefore be a great fit.
And also, don’t rush it. Go and explore together. Have a ‘physical brainstorm session’ ie. a reconnaissance mission just to gather ideas. Talk to people who have been there and done it, talk to people who are there now (talk to me, if you like!). And then see what options you have, and how this fits with what you discovered working through Step Two. If an opportunity presents itself, but doesn’t meet your non-negotiables, wait a little longer. Something really will come along that works for both you and yours.
To find out how this process worked for me when my decision making expanded to include my S.O. and then my two children, have a read here. If you subscribe to Le Blog, more stories, tips and tricks will be delivered to your inbox. And if you or your partner need help with writing your non-negotiable lists, or guidance with reconciling them afterwards, get in touch!
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