Probably the hardest thing about making the decision to build your Plan B is worrying about what others will think about your decision.
“What are you, crazy? We live in the most free country in the world! Why would you want to leave?”
“You are going to ruin your children’s lives with your selfish decision.”
“It’s so dangerous in (country of your choice)!”
“You wouldn’t have as good of healthcare as you have here in (your home country).”
“That is such a stupid decision. Why on earth would you want to leave (your home country)? It may not be perfect, but it is way better than (country of your choice).”
If you have floated the idea of building a Plan B to your family and friends, perhaps you have heard some of these reactions yourself.
I always find it strange that, for thousands of years, humans have migrated all over the globe in search of more opportunity and a better life. Yet, suddenly, we are looked upon as stupid, ungrateful, or even as traitors for wanting to leave our home country.
Do I need to have bombs dropped on me or be unable to feed my family in order for this decision to be acceptable? Just how bad are we expected to wait for things to get before we are “allowed” to have the desire to move somewhere else?
Maybe I prefer the weather and the culture of another country. Maybe I think there is more opportunity for my children there. Who says I even need a reason, other than just “because”?
And that’s why I wanted to write today’s article about standing firm in your decision to build a Plan B, if that is what you have decided to do. You are choosing the path less-traveled, and you are going to get some push back. Here’s how to stay true to your convictions and withstand some of the criticism that will come your way.
Don’t expect them to understand
In the Escape Artist Insiders February 2023 issue about Intentional Living, Joel Nagel’s article, “Intentional Living as the Key to Success”, really stuck with me. On the topic of making intentional choices, he said:
This type of intentional choice applies especially to those who decide to live and work or retire abroad. The first choice is to make the personal choice to do something abroad. That choice separates you from 99 percent of the population. Your neighbors, friends and relatives will never understand your decision. Don’t try to convince them.
From time to time, a client will say to me at a conference or in my office, “Convince me why I should _______ overseas.” My answer is always the same and is a simple, “Nope, if you need to be convinced, it’s not for you.” If you mean to go against the norms and live the “Escape Artist” lifestyle, then you already know it deep down in your soul —that’s what you want to do. Nobody has to convince you.
I think his words really struck a chord with me because they validated what I already knew deep down: that those of us who are pursuing the expat lifestyle and building our Plan Bs are just built differently than most of the people around us. And that’s a big part of why they don’t understand our choices.
It also helped me to remember that I don’t need to convince anyone else that what I am doing is right for myself and my family. It’s okay if they don’t understand – they don’t need to.
Keep people on a “need to know” basis
A surefire way to get unnecessary and unwanted advice is to share what you are doing indiscriminately. We already know that most people just don’t get it, so why bother telling them? Do most of them really need to know?
In my opinion, the answer is a big N-O. If I feel like floating our Plan B plans out there to someone who I think would find it interesting and take it in with an open mind, then I do. But, if I know I’m going to get a bunch of those questions and judgements I mentioned in the first part of the article, I just don’t bother. Some people are just not in the headspace to “get” what we are doing, and that is totally fine.
We all discuss and share different things with different people, based on shared interests and perspectives, and this is just another one of those things. And, unless it directly affects them in some way, generally it is not their business.
Be confident in your decision-making process
The best way to be confident in your decision-making is to know you have done your due diligence and taken the appropriate time to make a decision.
Starting to build a Plan B or pursue an expat lifestyle can often start from an emotional place, such as how many of us felt with the restrictions and rhetoric over the past few years. But it is your responsibility to think logically about the situation and not make any rash decisions.
Do your research. Talk to people who are doing what you want to do and living where you want to live. Start taking small steps to get yourself closer to your Plan B goal. Each small step you take will help you build your confidence, gather more information and experience, and even get some “wins” under your belt.
“Stay committed to your decision but stay flexible in your approach.”
I love this quote by Tony Robbins. Part of being confident in your decisions is giving yourself the flexibility to change things up in the presence of new circumstances and information. Good decision makers are able to keep their eye on the prize and continue to move towards the end goal, even if things go awry.
And, trust me, with this process, they will. So, expect that and be prepared to roll with the punches. You cannot afford to be melting things down when go off the rails. A good plan has the ability and flex, bend, and change, while still moving you toward your ultimate goal. If you know you have contingencies built into your plan and are prepared to deal with things when they go wrong, you will be all the more confident in your decision, and in yourself.
Toughen up, Buttercup
If you are someone who goes against the grain, or wants to, you are going to need to develop a thicker skin. It’s just the reality of not going with the crowd. People will question your decisions. Perhaps they will think you’re crazy. Are you prepared to take it?
Over the last couple of years, if nothing else, I have been able to build a strength of belief in myself and my family that I did not have before. It was built by enduring some very tough times, and realizing that, while a lot of people want to have a say in my decisions, at the end of the day the only people’s opinions that matter are those of my my husband and kids. That’s it.
A people-pleaser at heart, this has been a tough pill to swallow. I love and crave positive feedback from others. I want the A+ and the pat on the head from the teacher. I want to be told I’m doing a good job. I want to know that my family and friends support me. But, I think the difference now is that I don’t need them to. I’ve developed a thicker skin, probably as a survival mechanism to make it through these difficult times without losing my mind. And that has resulted in me requiring far less affirmation from others, and replacing that with strength from within.
It’s a wonderful feature of getting older, too, that we become more secure in who we are and, as a result, less concerned about what others think of us. I really noticed this change in myself once I turned 40. Society views you as “over the hill” once you turn 40, and therefore old, so, instead of having a midlife crisis about it, I embraced my age and being “old” as a license to be more true to myself. I’ve gotta say, it has been so freeing! 10 out of 10, highly recommend aging so far!
Stay strong and stay true to yourself
If you are reading this, perhaps you are feeling the crushing weight of other people’s expectations and judgements. Perhaps this is holding you back from following your desire to pursue your expat lifestyle or start building your Plan B.
But, if this is truly what you want, you are going to need to get comfortable with the fact that people will not understand. You are going to need to find the strength within yourself to go against the grain. By making solid decisions you feel confident in and preparing for when things don’t go as planned, you can build out the proper infrastructure to support your offshore goals, and will be less likely to be affected by negative comments and opinions of others who don’t share your perspective.
Something that can be super helpful is making connections with like-minded people, like us here at Escape Artist. It really helps to know that you are not alone, when you are someone who thinks outside the box. That is the reason my husband and I began subscribing to Escape Artist Insiders magazine. It was so refreshing to read content from people who were living the offshore lifestyle, understood the challenges we were facing, and could share their knowledge to help us build our Plan B.
Even if you are just gathering information and not looking to make any big plans yet, it’s a great way to keep yourself on track and continue to learn more about what your options are. If you aren’t already subscribed, make sure you check it out!
I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading, and see you next week!
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