When Making Decisions is Tough

Like with anything in life, long-term travel has its own set of stressors and challenging moments. It can be really hard making decisions that seem so easy for others.

My first step for dealing with tough choices is to apply the regrets test—Will we regret it if we do/don’t . . .  If the answer is yes, that makes the decision much easier. Fortunately, most decisions can be easily made after this test. But, occasionally, the potential outcome is much harder.

making decisions

When we were in Ecuador, I was offered a job in Hawaii as a scuba instructor. It was incredibly tempting, and we were both pretty eager to go there. However, something just felt . . . off. We did a pros-and-cons list which wasn’t very helpful.

We applied the regrets test and felt like either way we wouldn’t have regrets.

This is when we turned to flipping a coin. We did a coin toss which said to move to Hawaii. Great! Except that we instantly felt like we didn’t want to leave Ecuador yet. So the toss actually was pretty helpful in helping us nail down our real feelings.

These methods have worked well for us over the last few years.

Until recently when we decided Budapest was an incredibly wonderful place to visit but probably wouldn’t serve as well as our home for a few reasons.

I accepted that and was okay with proceeding with our next option which was moving to Mexico (mostly because acquiring a long-term visa in Europe can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around).

As time went on, and it was getting closer to us needing to book tickets, it became more difficult. My mind and gut both indicated Mexico was a more logical and appropriate choice for us at this time, especially for meeting Tigger’s needs as a teenager.

making decisions

Oh how my heart disagreed, though. It could accept that perhaps Budapest was not the best choice right now, but there are so many options for Europe! And I absolutely love Europe. I feel very European, and there are so many wonderful parts about living here—great public transportation, wonderful food, can be in another country in 1-3 hours, etc.

No matter what my head said, my heart still tugged.

We didn’t feel like we would regret staying or going, so that was no help. As Tigger so aptly stated, “If we don’t like it in Mexico, we can always return to Europe.” Yeah, but  . . . I don’t want to leave! Plus there’s the cost of that trip, and the idea of enduring another very long flight just doesn’t appeal to me.

Remembering our previous experiment, we did the coin toss. It said Mexico. He was happy and my heart was not. So I kept flipping the coin. Every day.

Sometimes a few times a day.

The coin just would not support my heart! I couldn’t believe how many times Mexico won the coin toss. I even tried different coins, picking different sides (3 tosses with heads meaning Hungary and tails Mexico, then vice versa) and different currencies (Iceland was more pro-Europe on some tosses while Her Majesty’s coin was most adamant we leave).

I even resorted to trying some online coin tosses. Yes, I am that pitiful.

Those kept siding for Mexico, too. My heart would not yield, though. I decided that perhaps Budapest vs. Mexico was the wrong approach, so I broadened it to Europe vs. Mexico.

When some things lined up for us to be able to go to Mexico earlier and from the departing city that had the lowest airfare, my heart still refused to accept it.

Finally, after a few almost sleepless nights, I decided to try something I hadn’t done in a while. Often our subconscious mind is better at making decisions since it is disconnected from our emotional nonsense, our fears, etc. So, as I lay on my bed, I took some deep breaths, centered myself, and had an internal conversation with my subconscious. I explained that I needed the answer to be made clear as I dreamt that night and that the answer had to be crystal clear so that I couldn’t argue it away.

The few dreams I had that night all clearly took place in Mexico. I was happy in my dream. I remember walking down a cobblestoned street surrounded by the brightly colored buildings our planned town is known for. I knew the buildings were in Mexico, I knew the people were Mexican, and there were even a few signs indicating I was in Mexico. I woke up knowing the answer but was still not happy about it.

I know that I can’t trust my heart with these types of decisions. It wants what it wants regardless of what may be best for me or my small family, but man can it let its disagreement be known!

After the confirmations from my subconscious, I surrendered the fight and bought our tickets to Mexico. That night I slept for more than 8 hours, which is almost unheard of for me, especially for the previous few nights as I wrestled so hard with the decision.

It’s been a couple of days. My heart is still not happy with the choice, but it feels more resigned to accepting the now inevitable.

One thing, though, that is so absolutely wonderful about this lifestyle is exactly what Tigger mentioned—We aren’t locked in. We aren’t “stuck” anywhere.

And that kind of freedom is worth it all.

Do you have any tricks to simplify making decisions when they’re complicated?

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  1. I’ve heard somewhere about taking decision, Always take 80% of the decision the first time they come up in your mind. If it fails, then take another decision, again quickly. If that too fails, you’re in the wrong place anyway! Seems familiar.

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  2. Reading your post gave the chills, as it reminded me very closely when I had to make a similar decision: staying was my heart’s choice, going was the rational one.

    I tried to empty my mind and let the decision take shape by itself but it didn’t: I ended up going and then moving again few months later, to a third place!

    At the start I thought I had made the wrong choice, but ‘wrong’ is not the word: I had to go to figure out why my heart was so against going, if that makes sense, and once I had that pinned down I was able to make clearer choices. In the end, that move was the best thing I could have ever done.

    I do hope your heart is proven wrong and Mexico makes a great home:I guess the most important thing is to give it a chance – when the next decision comes, you might not want to leave it either 😉

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    • I hope it as well. Right now I’m still not happy about this decision, but at least I’m not having the stress of going back and forth and challenging it.

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  3. Oh dear! I had to chuckle about your internal wrestling about where you should settle for a little while. I can completely relate, having spent 18 months selling everything that we own to travel I am almost fearful of settling anywhere now in case it is hard to ‘escape’ again. But I think Tigger is right. You aren’t stuck anywhere. Travel changes us all, and once you’ve transitioned to a new life that prioritises travel with your family, you will probably always live in a way that makes it possible to make a change of scenery when your heart tells you it’s time to move on again. Roll with it. Sometimes everything points us in a direction for a reason, you never know what it is that you are meant to learn from it all.

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    • I told Tigger with all this pushing to go to Mexico, there better be something AMAZING waiting for me there. lol

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  4. I initially use many of the steps you outlined. But, when that still leaves me in a quandary, most often I have just wrestled and wrestled with it until I slowly start to feel more at peace about one option (even when it is not the option I feel I want!). It is a long exhausting process, though. Luckily, I have had the time, in those few instances.

    I hope you eventually understand why you end up in Mexico at this time! Good luck!

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    • It will be interesting to see what’s waiting there. I’m not used to this type of situation, really. Usually the answer is clear pretty quickly, and peace returns once the decision has been made. This is an interesting internal battle.

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  5. I liked your method of making decisions. I always list the pros and cons. I decided 15 years ago to move to Mexico after having done business in the country starting in 1974 in
    several capacities.

    I moved to San Miguel, even though I had never spent much time in that village. It was a
    good decision and one I’ve never regretted.

    Wherever you are moving, hopefully you and your son will have the same welcoming and open arms acceptance that I have had over these years.

    So many wonderful lessons learned from the kindness and generosity of the people of Mexico.

    I write a blog about living in Mexico, if you have any interest.

    Buen suerte’


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    • Hi Babs,

      We really enjoy Mexico. I’ve been all over the state, but with my son we’ve only been in the Yucatan. Coincidentally, we’re moving to SMA to start with to see if that will be our long-term base. So perhaps we’ll get to meet you there.

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