With every major life decision I’ve made, good and bad advice has been freely given.
Moving to Canada in 2003, someone dear to me advised that family wouldn’t forgive me for the move. I was told my girlfriend (now my wife) wasn’t right for me. Assured that friends from home would abandon me.
I’d be alone and left to live an unhappy life far from those I knew and cared about.
Twelve years on, I’m still living abroad. Getting by. And friends and family continue to care.
When I returned to university as a 28-year old, dissatisfied with my corporate career and the killer commute, I was advised I was too old. The university, in its right mind, should not accept me. Fellow students would shun me.
And I probably wouldn’t get the grades because being older somehow meant having less intelligence than those around me.
So I graduated with an A-grade Master of Arts. Avoided the school bullies. And my brain didn’t implode.
Then I quit my steady government career after seven painfully long years to create a writing company off the back of this blog’s success. I was immediately told I’d fall behind if I set up my own business. It would likely end in tears and I could fail financially.
Never be able to afford another house. Forget financial security. Kiss goodbye to a proper career.
With every major life decision, I’ve received great advice from trusted sources. But I’ve also heard some of the worst advice about changing my life for the better.
And you’ll probably hear it too.
1. You will not be forgiven.
Loved ones won’t forgive you for moving abroad, leaving a great career or dropping everything to travel the world.
You turn your back on them. Give up family commitments and responsibilities as they grow older. Swan off on that incredible adventure while they deal with life on their own. How could they ever forgive you for that?
But it’s just not true.
They might not be happy with your decision to quit a good job. They might rue the day you decided to head overseas because of a deep sense of wanderlust or a need to spread your wings. And, yes, you’ll miss family events and annual celebrations.
But there’s nothing to forgive.
Because you haven’t done anything wrong. You didn’t commit a crime and you didn’t set out to hurt anybody.
You were restless, unhappy, uneasy with life. You wanted to change things and it led you down this path. It’s true that you looked out for you, but then somebody had to or you might have gone mad.
If friends are true friends, they’ll always be there for you. It will be a struggle but you’ll fight to keep the connection with those you miss most.
You have a shared history with the people you leave behind. They get you. They understand you.
They will forgive you.
2. You are too old.
Too far advanced in a career. Too old to get a visa. You left it too late. And where is all this leading? We don’t understand. Grow up and stop gallivanting around.
I’ve heard it all before.
There’s a perception that when you make a drastic life change, you have to do it before you turn 30. Or earlier.
That if you don’t change a job, sell your house, travel or move abroad before this point, then you’ll jeopardise everything you’ve worked hard for.
I gave up the steady corporate career – the car, the perks, flash title and fancy suits – to return to student life.
And I loved every minute of it.
I left my homeland in my late 20s and, at the age of 40, I wouldn’t say no to another grand international move. It’s in my blood and it’s the way I’m built.
It’s not about age. It’s about you.
If you crave change, are willing to open yourself up to it, ready to step outside your comfort zone, then it becomes a choice and has nothing to do with age.
If you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way.
3. You will fall behind.
You can’t afford to do this. You won’t be able to buy a house, start a family, move up the career ladder.
Making a decision like this is flakey and selfish at the expense of everything you’ve achieved and everyone who supported you.
You know who always says this? People who have money.
No-one drowning in debt will ever say something like this to you. We have an unhealthy obsession with money and too often associate our happiness with wealth.
Of course, it’s easier to be happy when your refrigerator is full and your bills are paid, but you still have to face the job you dislike or the commute to work that you cannot stand.
Making a decision to change an aspect of your life for the better may impact on your finances but, equally, when you do something you love, you often become great at it. And, with passion and success, should flow a decent income.
We need to stop hearing this because it’s too short-term.
There are so many ways to change your life. Embrace a different diet, try new things, sell a house, get fit, move abroad, transfer to a new job, do something that scares you, even alter your daily routine.
Change is hard, it’s intimidating, and we need to know we’re making the right decision. Life is full of new beginnings based on good (and bad) advice.
So it’s perfectly normal to listen to others when considering something new, just don’t let them become a hurdle.
Don’t let them hold you back.
What’s the worst advice you’ve heard? What did you do about it?
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