Should I stay or should I go?

Something you should know about regrets

‘What if I regret this?’

This question is definitely a biggy with those seriously thinking about relocating. And while there is much to say about regret, the most important thing to remember is: There’s a ton of scientific research (and a lot more anecdotal evidence besides) that indicates people are far more likely to regret what they didn’t do, than regret what they actually did. 

Even if afterwards you consider your experience an abject failure, a missed opportunity will produce more negative thoughts than if you had gone. Yes! Sounds strange, doesn’t it? But there is a very good reason for this. 

The reason is that: 

  1. Bad memories fade, and 
  2. You can process or deal with (bad) experiences afterwards. 

Just to be clear – I’m not talking about trauma (as in severe psychological distress) here, I’m talking about events such as these (recognise any?):

  • Food poisoning (friends still snigger when they are reminded of a particular night somewhere far away when I ate my first real meal after a couple of weeks of being on a diet of white rice, water, and the occasional coke recovering from a bad bout of well, something bad. Apparently, I forgot there was cutlery, I didn’t talk to anyone, or take my eyes off my plate for the duration of the meal. The word ecstatic is sometimes mentioned)

  • Your employer not having arranged a house for you, so you had to spend a month in a hostel (well, after a week in a really crappy hostel – think bad plumbing and extra curricular creatures – we actually bought a house truck. And after it was no longer needed as emergency accommodation, we had many happy weekend trips with her!)
  • You’ve been there over six months and you still don’t feel at home. Depending on your mood, you are either very homesick, or just wondering why this was a good idea again? (also, yes. That happened)

  • That business you bought was not actually ready-to-open, but mostly ready-for-a-lot-of-work-before-you-could-even-think-about-opening…

  • You were relieved your experience was over and you could go back to your comfy life  

So even if you go through something similar, the science says (and so does my own experience) that chances are you will hear yourself afterwards saying you wouldn’t have missed the adventure for the world. And you’ll mostly remember the beautiful moments, the fun and bizarre things that happened, all of which make great stories to tell. Especially when you smell a particular spice, and you are instantly transported back to that market, where the lady in that sari sold the best chai…

And if you don’t go? Well, you may be stuck always wondering what you might have missed out on, who you could have met, and who you could have become. A whole handful of regrets because you won’t have any memories to process, only a nagging ‘what if…?’ to keep you company

So, am I saying just do it? 

Well, not exactly. Maybe for you, reading the above is enough to get your act together and make the move. But likely, it isn’t enough for most people. And if you’re in the Most People camp and need a bit more help to make right the decision for you, I’ve got another blog for you to help you do just that!

Take care,
Judith

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