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Risk Taking for the Risk Averse Part 2: A How-To Guide

Last post I shared the story of how I found myself unexpectedly moving to Sydney from my hometown of Melbourne. It is a story filled with ups and downs and big questions marks, many unknowns, a few minor freak outs and finally the big decision! (Read here!)

Now, I consider a career change in itself to be a pretty bold move. Couple that with a new city and a move that will impact not just me but my partner, my family, his family, our friends…it was a lot to take in.

For some, moving is just a part of life, but for me it was a huge decision, one that in some way said, I’m putting myself and my career first. And that’s been hard to do. I’ve asked my partner to come along with me. I’ve asked my family to support me (and store all my furniture – thanks fam!). They’ve been amazing but I know deep down they’d love for me to stay. I can’t help but shake a niggling feeling of guilt and sadness about the family occasions or time spent together I will miss. And that’s why it’s so important that I didn’t make this decision on a whim. That I was properly informed. That my reason for moving was solid. That I can back myself, and my decision, even when it gets tough, which it undoubtedly will.

So if you’re facing something similar, I’ve gathered together a few tips, small and simple as they may seem, that helped me lean into this big, crazy, uncertain, risky new life that I’ve chosen for myself.

1. Research, research, research

If you have a tendency to be risk averse, getting your hands on as much information as possible to help minimise any uncertainty associated with the decision is key.

I started gathering information well before the job offer (and accompanying move to Sydney) was on the table. I can’t emphasise enough how important it was that I started this so far in advance.

Before I was even in the market for a new job, I signed up to a truck-load of job alerts. Slowly but surely, I was able dissect the positions that were popping up daily and I started to pull together a clear picture of what my ideal role looked like. Having this picture in my mind was critical when decision time rolled around.

2. Talk to people

Use your networks and your newly acquired knowledge to seek out people who’ve been there, done that. Ask questions that will shed some light on your need-to-knows. If minimising uncertainty is your aim (and it is) this is one of the best things you can do.

I spoke to A LOT of people throughout this whole decision making process.

From a job perspective, I reached out to people from the new team I was hoping to join, people from their wider function, and some of their business stakeholders. This gave me a feel for what I could expect from the role, and made even clearer what I was already starting to suspect – that this job was going to be a great fit for me.

But there wasn’t just the job to consider. My partner had to be on board with my decision. While it works for some people, living apart, commuting, long-distance – it just didn’t feel like an option for us. I find it funny (funny weird, not funny haha) that when I’ve told people that we’re moving for work, so many have assumed it was for my partner’s work and not my own. Is it that uncommon for a man to move for the sake of his partner’s career? In any case, I feel pretty lucky that he was, as always, supportive and excited for taking on this adventure together. Being on the same page throughout was so important because this one decision – to take the job and move to Sydney – quickly spiralled into a million little decisions, many of which we needed to make together.

Like, where’s the best spot for two twenty-somethings (who really deep down inside are kinda more like eighty-year olds) to live? Do we want to be close to shops, beaches, public transport? Should we bring our fridge from Melbourne? Will we need coats in winter? Our friends in Sydney have been invaluable in providing all sorts of handy tidbits to help us on our way, which has been an enormous help.

3. Consider all options

Even if it feels like it, chances are your decision isn’t binary. Take a step back, reframe the issue and make sure you’ve considered all options. Even if they feel a bit out-of-the-box, they may provide you with a fresh new perspective.

I knew my decision wasn’t a simple yes/no decision. I figured out that the job was right for me (refer points one and two). But, what if I could find an awesome job in Melbourne? What if it takes me two years to find? What would I do in the meantime? Am I happy to wait? Will I need to do some extra study to get my foot in the door? What about an internship? Or is there something completely different I could see myself enjoying?

So while many of those options weren’t presently available, I could have taken one of many avenues and followed it through to a different ending. It was an important step to ensure I wasn’t rushing into the first opportunity that presented itself.

4. Trust your gut instinct and jump in

There’s no denying it. Sometimes you just know. And when you do, it’s time to jump in. Once your decision is made, don’t backtrack or worry or try to reverse it. Back yourself and go all in.

I knew pretty early in the piece that it was the right job for me. I had to work through the process to ensure I had all bases covered but throughout it all I just had this sense that it was right.

Sure, moving to Sydney is still scary. It’s filled with many unknowns (Where will I live? Will I ever find an apartment or am I destined to a forever of shifting between Airbnbs while I pay through the nose to have my belongings stored indefinitely?) but I’m jumping in with both feet. I’m embracing all the ups, the downs, the challenges, the tears, the breakthroughs, the first-night away from home, the first day in a new office, the first time I get something right at work, the first time I get something wrong.

There’s plenty of downside risk, but much more upside risk, if you ask me.  

Have you had to make a scary or life changing decision lately? Do you have any tips to help make a call in the face of uncertain outcomes? Drop me a note in the comments – I’d love to hear how you’re dealing with it.

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