How to take the fear out of a big life decision

I have always been fairly conservative when it comes to big decisions. I liked the security of knowing what lies ahead (don’t we all?) and mostly this trait had served me well. But at 28-years-old I faced a fork in the road – one was clear, I could see the path ahead and it would be a nice one, but then there was another path – a road less taken, with a big question mark and nothing clearly visible on the other side.

I took a risk and gave up my full-time job, sold everything I owned, gave up my Sydney apartment and packed my entire life into two suitcases and followed my boyfriend to London.

It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Moving to London has paid major dividends – I fulfilled one of my dreams of working for the BBC, met incredibly British celebrities, saw a Beatle in concert, ran a half-marathon and have indulged in some European travelling. I married my best friend (the same guy I went to London for) and we now get to enjoy the spoils London has to offer together.

But this initial decision did not come without some trepidation. I’m a practical person and I needed to weigh the pros and cons before giving up a secure life (and a permanent address). My experience has taught me that you can take the fear out of a big decision with some practical steps.

1. Ask the why. Why did I want to move overseas? I wanted a new experience – one that could not be had where I was living and it needed to be done sooner rather than later – it wasn’t just ‘travelling’ that I wanted – I needed to learn things, and see how I coped without my support circle. Trust me, it can be challenging when you only know one other person in a city and you can’t go and see your parents on the weekend. You don’t know real loneliness until you live in a place where no one really knows you. If you know the why behind your decision, it will help you when the valleys come (and despite what it looks like on social media, there are some really not fun moments living abroad).

2. Calculate the risk. What’s your worst case scenario? Mine was that I wouldn’t get a job in London. I needed to be able to about to support myself financially. So, I researched the heck out of it. I asked everyone I knew had lived in London how did they get their job, how much did they pay in rent? How much did I need for an oyster, an apartment deposit? I chased anyone with professional contacts and developed my own contact list from stalking people online. I called recruiters in London when I wasn’t working. Practically, I made sure I had enough funds to last 3 months without a job. While I was hopeful, I needed the resources to cover me just in case the ‘worst scenario’ happened.

3. Ask yourself : if you don’t do this, what will happen? For me, if I didn’t go to London, I would have always regretted not trying the London ex-pat experience. For me, regret is non-negotiable when I can do something about it. Decide on your non-negotiable and explore all other options as your disposal.

4. Take the next small step and see how it feels – For me the next small step was looking at the visa required. I researched it, and it was easier than I imagined, I just needed to commit to the move and the date of arrival in London - which then led to the next decision (when to resign from my role, give notice on my apartment, buy a plane ticket). If unsure of the big decision, take one step towards it and gauge your response to it. Follow your peace and see where it leads.

5. Put a deadline on it –I wanted to save a certain amount of money before moving overseas, and I did. I knew that money would either help put a deposit on an apartment or help me move overseas and travel. As soon as that number was in my savings account, I decided I would either move overseas or start looking at buying. Somehow, I never seemed to get around to the real estate agent and moving overseas became the only option for me.

6. Prepare what you can, accept what you can’t - I didn’t know where I would work or live before booking my ticket, so I just didn’t worry about it. Not worrying does not mean inaction. I took massive action by direct emailing and calling companies I wanted to work for – when I arrived in London I already had a coffee meeting set up at the BBC and with ITV. Within 24 hours of landing I had a house share approved with two awesome girls who I am still friends now. There’s no use in wasting energy stressing out about what you can’t control. Take action, accept what you can’t change and let God do the rest.

7. Insert fun into the journey - I knew I would have mixed feelings about leaving my family and starting a new chapter, so I made sure I had something fun to look forward to when finally getting on that plane. My sister and I decided to book a trip to the Amalfi Coast, Italy for a week which helped me unwind and prepare for my new London life. It’s difficult to appreciate the journey sometimes, but you have to insert some good times and proper R&R along the way. When I arrived in London, I was rested and ready to take on this new journey.

For me, the greatest lesson from this experience was to stop thinking and start doing. I found that awesome things happen when you start taking action. As Dale Carnegie said: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.“

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Rachel Reva is a blogger and success coach for women. Originally from Georgia, she currently lives in London with her Australian husband. When she isn’t writing, coaching or stalking Oprah she is planning her next European holiday.

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