3 UNEXPECTED DECISIONS THAT OPENED NEW HORIZONS

Sometimes the smallest decisions can lead to the biggest changes. Be brave and follow your heart.

UNEXPECTED DECISIONS AND NEW HORIZONS

Have you ever made an on the spot decision that resulted in big, unexpected changes? I was thinking about this the other day and a few came to mind. I thought I'd share them today because they were little stepping stones that opened new horizons for me. Small decisions at the time that were made for good reasons - but they also had far reaching and life changing results.

I wrote a couple of months ago about courage having consequences - there are always costs and pay-offs when we make decisions, but sometimes the pay-offs far outweigh the costs and today I'm sharing three decisions that paid off far more than I ever would have expected.

LIFESTYLE

I was a city girl born and bred, and then I met a country boy who moved to the city when we married. We settled into a house in suburbia, and that was how I thought our life would play out over the years ahead. But things change, we started a family and realized it wasn't the lifestyle we wanted for our kids - so we made the spontaneous decision to leave our small patch of suburbia and to build a new home on 2 acres in the country so we could raise our children somewhere with a big back yard to run and play in. It meant leaving my family and friends, changing jobs, moving into our new home one week after having our new baby - all with our 2½ year old in tow – crazy and stressful, and not at all “sensible”.

country living - the first days
The first days in that new house - dirt, new baby, 2yr old, and SO much work to do!

There were a lot of ups and downs, but our kids grew up with space to roam and they made great friendships, went to smaller schools, joined sporting groups, and were exposed to much less peer pressure living in a country area. They developed independence and the skills they needed to be able to leave home and head to the city for university and succeeded in creating wonderful lives for themselves.

life in Leschenault Western Australia
That same house many years later - after a lot of work, renovations, and love

A random decision that we made to give our kids a better start to life ended up changing my life too. 30+ years later we’re still living in the area we moved to – downsized from the 2 acres, but with no desire to return to the city permanently – even with the added allure of our kids both living there. I’m happy, content, settled and at peace with that spontaneous choice we jumped into when we were so much younger than we are today.

FINANCES

A couple of years ago – just before I quit the job from hell, we met a guy who turned out to be a financial planner. He offered us a free session with him to look at our finances and see where we wanted to head. It seemed like a great idea - and it was free!! (………well we thought it was – but we all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch don’t we?) Regardless, we decided we probably needed to have a conversation about our income, assets, investments etc and find out what a professional thought we needed to do.

That decision to have a “free” conversation ended up leading to a couple more sessions and a rather large bill (remember – no free lunch!) in the end it was worth that investment of time and money, but not from the perspective that he expected. The financial planner collated all our scattered income sources and retirement investments so we knew exactly what we owned, and gave us his advice on what we should do with it – basically we should keep working really hard for several more years, sell up everything and put it all into the great investment portfolio he could manage for us, and watch our income grow.

when financial planning takes you in a new direction

That might be great advice for people who hope to squirrel away even more money than they have already, but it had the opposite effect on us. What it did was show us that we already had plenty – more than we realized, and neither of us felt the urge to work more or to consolidate everything into an investment plan. We were in fact more than happy with what we had, and knowing that, it helped me lose my scarcity mindset and quit my job - and a couple of years later my husband quit one of his part-time jobs too.

Sometimes you have to go down one path to realize that it’s not heading in the direction you want to go, and that allows you the freedom to make your own path towards something even better.

RETIREMENT

The biggest spontaneous decision I’ve made lately was to quit my toxic job. I had no plans to do so, if anything, my plan was to keep pushing through until I reached retirement and could afford to stop working. Everything I was conditioned to believe revolved around working and putting a nest egg away for retirement. It didn’t matter whether the job gave any real satisfaction, it was all about putting in the time and effort, taking home the pay cheque, and saving for that rainy day.

Nobody thinks it’s a good idea to throw away a perfectly good job – especially when you’re 57 and know that it’ll be really hard to find another one. The common belief is “it can’t be all that bad – just soldier on and do your best, hang in there and one day you’ll be free to retire”. Making the sudden decision to just quit – to write that letter of resignation and walk away 2 weeks later, was a really big deal and one that went against that ‘play it safe’ mentality I’d always lived by. But man it felt good when I did it!

Life as a medical secretary
I can see the weariness behind my eyes in this pic taken towards the end of my last job

As time’s gone by I’ve seen how weary I was of the 9-5 treadmill, and as I’ve settled into a quieter and more contented life away from work. I can also see other unexpected aspects that I’ve avoided by leaving before it wrung the last drop out of me. I look at a lot of my friends who are still working and I can see a tiredness, or a quiet resentment, or a struggle to keep up with new changes. A lot are working because they don’t know what they’d do if they stopped, but they’re tired and it shows. I’m not one of them, I feel rested and relaxed, happy in my life – I smile each and every day – I even have a little skip in my step when I remind myself of how great my life is these days. I've never once regretted pulling the pin earlier than I anticipated.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Sometimes taking a leap of faith can lead to a new phase of life that you never expected – one that is SO much better than what you’d been holding onto so tightly before. Have you made any decisions that took you on an unexpected path and resulted in so much more than you expected?

RELATED POSTS



Sometimes the smallest decisions can lead to the biggest changes. Be brave and follow your heart.
Sometimes the smallest decisions can lead to the biggest changes. Be brave and follow your heart.

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37 comments

  1. Hi Leanne,I have been off the grid for awhile and I look forward to catching up reading your posts. You make a great point about the far reaching and life changing results. I think I mentioned “Sliding Doors” in the past to you and how one split decision changed the trajectory of my life. I will mull on your word “courage.” It did not feel like courage at the time, yet it does in retrospect. I agree with how giving our children a better start is a ripple effect from these decisions. You remind me how it is good to seek expert advice, yet it still depends on who the expert is. More points for me to mull on “leap of faith” and how hindsight is 20/20. A great post! Hope all is well.xx

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    1. Hi Erica - I think of you heading off into the wilderness as a young woman, meeting a guy, moving in, making a life - all small decisions that have far reaching outcomes - and joyful ones in your case. Life takes us on interesting paths if we're willing to take a risk now and then - you've certainly arrived in a beautiful place with a committed and loving spouse, great kids and lovely grandies - you can't ask for more than that can you?

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    2. Thank you, Leanne, You know first hand the impact of those small decisions. And, back to you about arriving in a beautiful place with your beautiful family. I have spent my morning ordering special colouring books and pencils/pens for gifts after reading your previous post. A great idea! Have a lovely week. xx

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  2. I just commented about my seachange on another blog today. Obviously I don't regret it. I was keen to leave my old life that involved work work and work and little else. But... the flipside has been the continual unemployment. It was something I'd never experienced in the city and not something I'd expected. It's been far more demoralising I think than I expected it to me and screwed with my confidence a lot.

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    1. The post I wrote a while ago about courage having consequences definitely applies here Deb - there is always cost/payoff comparisons - and some decisions lead us to places that are not always what we'd expected, but there are always good bits too - the question becomes "is the payoff worth the cost?" - I hope you find your sweet spot soon x

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  3. I just read a book about making decisions and have been thinking a lot about the process I use lately. we must be thinking along the same lines.

    I think my hubby and I are still working at losing that scarcity mindset. We were poor for so long when we were young. It is a difficult thing to leave behind, but we have plenty of money in our retirement. Our financial planner tells us so. I am going to show this post to Bill. He and I need ot read it together. Thanks for the wonderful words, Leanne!

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    1. Hi Laurie - we were very poor too for many, many years - there was enough if we managed it very carefully. But over the years, that scrimping and saving gradually moved us into a better place, and when we gathered together all our little "pots" of savings, there was surprisingly more than we'd expected and the relief is enormous - now I just have to remember to live like a middle class person instead of a poor person!

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  4. Wow - I am a true city girl living on the fringe of Melbourne. Your early move sounds crazy! Why is it everything huge in life often happens all at once. This post is of great interest to me in my current circumstances so thank you.
    Visiting via #DenyseWhelanBlogs.

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    1. Yes, life often throws a whole lot of things at us at once doesn't it? We were supposed to move into our house when I was 5 months pregnant, but we hit a building delay period and my husband moved us into the house while I was in hospital - so newborn baby + 2yr old + crazy new unfinished house! We survived though and it's fun to look back at now.

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  5. This is great Leanne. Thanks be made a few of those sudden U turn decisions in my life that fortunately opened up a new world for me. Like you, one was making a move to a totally different area, another was walking out on what many would say was a great job. Hi have no regrets

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    1. Hi Jennifer - you certainly made a few dramatic decisions at a turning point in your life, and they all seem to have paid off really well. Sometimes I wonder what our lives would have been like if we'd played safe and not made those brave decisions to just go for it and see how it panned out. I'm grateful every day that I've ended up where I am.

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  6. Good morning Leanne - a great reminder that leap of faith decisions, or courageous choices where we don’t know the end result sometimes give us the biggest rewards. I sometimes wish I had taken bigger risks when I was younger, but now that I look back I realize that I did make leap of faith decisions - decisions that could have backfired but didn’t! Your blog post has me reflecting on my path forward and decisions I am considering. Thank you for that. H.

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    1. Hi Helen - I thought I made very safe choices all my life, but when I looked back, I could see that there were times when I closed my eyes and took a leap of faith - and there are no regrets about any of them. I'll be interested to see where your potential new path is heading - keep us posted x

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  7. Oh my, Leanne, are those windows taking up the whole side of your house? How ever do you wash them? What a wonderful story. I've made a few decisions like those over the years, the biggest one probably to quit working for other people and start my own business 20 years ago.

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    1. Hi Janet - the bottom windows were quite do-able, but the top ones required my husband and a long ladder. Fortunately they didn't need doing too often (although I don't miss washing them!) Most of my work changes have resulted from taking a leap and hoping I'd land somewhere new and interesting - and I did (but it didn't guarantee that it would stay that way - especially the last one!)

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  8. Hi Leanne, Once you've made those big decisions, you can look back and see the impact. I also decided to leave my job, and I was sure we would be poor until I could figure out what was next. I also met with a financial planner, and discovered that we were in far better shape than we thought! Another big decision was going for my Ph.D. I didn't do it to get a job or because anyone pressured me to do it. I did it for myself. Sometimes, mostly when I thought of the expense of all those years of schooling, I felt selfish and wasteful for spending so much money on myself. I did my Ph.D, for me because I wanted the learning, and I have never regretted it! I think I would have regretted not doing it for the rest of my life. I loved the learning and the intellectiual stimulation! It made me more of who I am, and gave me the courage to own my intellect and my love of learning. Doesn't it feel good to look back on our decisions and make peace with our choices? It is very freeing!

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    1. Hi Michele - my husband did a complete career change in his 50's that required a few years of full time study and lots of ongoing learning. I resented it initially, but it's been life changing for him and he is now doing something he loves, and he's good at, and it fits around his non-9 to 5 personality. I'm so glad you did your PhD and it makes you happy and fulfilled - you can't ask for more than that can you? I'm starting to wonder what's next on my horizon - I'm sure another spontaneous decision lies ahead!

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  9. This was a lovely read Leanne and you've expressed your unexpected decisions and their benefits very well. Isn't it funny how we look back at how we started with nothing but love and some gumption, and just got on with life? I have far more time for thinking about things now than I ever did before and look back on some decisions we made and wonder who was that person, but I couldn't be happier now. A great insight into your life, so many thanks for sharing xx

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    1. Hi Deb - I think we have similar life journeys and the decisions that we made back then - ones where we chose to be frugal, to have a 'can-do' attitude, and to take the occasional risk - all paid off and gave us the lives we have now. We may not be tripping the light fantastic, but we're content and have set ourselves up for this second half of life - you can't ask for more than that can you?

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  10. Love this post, Leanne. So happy for you that each decision brought you a better life each time. My decision many years ago to leave the cold north to make my life on my island has brought me more happiness than I could have imagined. I share the story my journey in my book and continue to share my contentment in a blog on my website trueselflifejourneyjudith.com. Love to receive replies and comments.

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    1. Hi Judith - I tried to find your blog previously and couldn't - so glad you've left a link and I'm popping over to have a read and say hello. I love it when people make a bold choice in moving to a new home and find that it brought with it a whole new level of contentment and joy.

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  11. Leanne, there have been a number of 'sliding doors' in my lifetime, and I believe that all of the choices I made lead me to the life I am currently living. I didn't truly settle into trusting myself until around age 33 and up until that time, some of my choices seemed pretty crazy. It would have been easy to settle for a different life, and there were plenty of opportunities, but the overwhelming feeling that there was something else in store for me propelled me forward in search of the person I was meant to be.

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    1. Hi Suzanne - you hit self-awareness much earlier than I did! I think I was still scraping and scrabbling, and trying to figure out what I wanted and how to get there for much longer. Something finally clicked into place when I saw what we owned all lined up on paper - the scraping had been worthwhile, and now the freedom to rest and to pursue what I love instead of what I'm obligated to do is such a joy.

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  12. I love how sliding doors moments lead you to places like this. I'm going through one of those stages where I'm seriously struggling at the moment. My day job isn't toxic at all, yet I feel as though there's constantly a little flutter ball of anxiety in my tummy about it, & I'm not entirely sure what that's all about yet.

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    1. Hi Jo - I sometimes wonder if we just begin to outgrow what previously satisfied us? I've never "loved" any of my jobs, but I was fine with doing them and putting in a diligent day's work.....but when circumstances threw me that curve ball, I realized they'd opened my eyes to the fact that I was just done and dusted with doing stuff from that "scarcity mindset" and stopping to see that we had enough and adding more to the enough pile was just crazy (unless I found something that I couldn't wait to get up for each morning) it just freed me up to start on the next phase of life. Maybe you're at a change-of-phase-gateway and something new is on the horizon - fame and fortune as an author?????

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  13. You write with such clarity and insight Leanne based on these life experiences which have shaped you. When I first began following you, it was when you were still working in that job and the tensions and disharmony was present in your posts. You have made so many changes for good health...mentally the most...and for best reasons which suit you both. Over time, I know our move away from the city was the right one. I have been challenged by a lot of it but each time we return here to a quieter and more spacious area...even though we can no longer afford to buy (thanks HUGE Sydney & beyond real estate jumps) we are more content renting in this house than I could have imagined over 6 years ago. It did take 3 house moves, a cancer diagnosis but it's got us here...

    Thank you for sharing your post for Life This Week. I am always appreciative of the blogging community and you are one of those people in my blogging life. Next week, the optional prompt is Taking Stock. The new set of prompts is on my home page should you want to follow. Looking forward to see you again next week hopefully too. Denyse

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    1. Hi Denyse - I think every major move or life change has pros and cons. What's lovely is when we can look back and see that the hurdles were worth it and the decision ultimately brought us to a good place. I was a born and bred city girl and found country living quite an adjustment, then further down the track it meant letting our kids go off to the city in their late teens to go to uni (while my city friends had their kids still at home), and now we have 2hrs drive to see our kids - but none of those things have made me want to swap the peace and pleasantness of country living for the hustle and bustle of living in suburbia.
      I'm so glad you've found the same joy living where you do - and with renting you have someone to take care of the maintenance etc which is an added bonus.

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  14. I love your reading your stories of life decisions, Leanne. Sometimes I repeat the mantra, "Everything is as it should be." That doesn't mean everything is perfect...it means that everything that is is a result of what has come before. There is no "should be," it just "is." And how it is now, and what I do with that, is leading me to where I will be in the future. Sometimes it is the little twists and turns, and sometimes it is the major decisions, like retiring or moving. One of the biggest decisions I've made was getting out of an unsatisfactory marriage (after trying to fix it, I might add). Now I am happily married to a man who is a much better partner for me. More recently, my husband and I decided to sell our cabin and build a home in a warmer climate. So far, we have not regretted that decision. It feels right.

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    1. Hi Christie - I've been thinking about that theme quite a lot lately. Not every decision leads to sunshine and rainbows, but every time we choose to be brave or to try something new, our life gets a boost into a new direction and all the offshoots that come with it. It can be a bit scary or stressful at the time, but ultimately I have no regrets - and so much gratitude for where life has ultimately taken me. I'm so glad you feel the same sense of being where you should be.

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  15. Hi Leanne, I'm very happy for you that the decisions you made led to better life quality each time. Years ago I moved to a place that is within walking distance to most places that are essential to my day-to-day living. The decision didn't require any big thinking on my part as I was young at the time and could easily move again. Walking and living a car-free lifestyle have brought me many health benefits and significant savings to leave full-time work when I chose to do so. Thank you for sharing your story #WeekendCoffeeShare.

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    1. Hi Natalie - I still think it's interesting how a decision made for a certain reason has long term repercussions - your choice to live close to everything and to reduce your transport costs etc eventually led to early retirement and a wonderful life full of interesting activities - great choice and great outcomes for you.

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  16. Leanne, It's interesting looking back at the "big decisions" in life. One of the things I've noted in my own big decisions is.... the decision put me on a path to where I am and I am in a very good place. If I had made a different decision (even on one decision I could say I regret), I would not be where I am today. I think that insight is helping me manage through the emotional losses our current decision (the Big Move) is bringing.

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    1. We've been doing some financial changes in our life Pat - to try to simplify our income sources and prepare for the future. It has been stressful and lots of second guessing and allowing things to play out and seeing how it goes. We haven't had to move house or any huge upheavals, but every decision leads to ongoing outcomes - hopefully our choices and your big current choice will be ones we look back on in years to come and feel really good about being brave enough to tackle (fingers crossed).

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  17. Leanne, another very candid, inspiring writeup. It's always a pleasure reading your posts. I am so glad that the decisions you took have benefited you.

    There is this good old saying on how one should be willing to take one step back if that allows your to take two steps forward. And that's what has finally enabled you to take that decision to quit your job and retire early and healthy.

    I am just like you: someone who contemplates a lot before taking a decision. But I have taken occasionally snap decisions. One of them was to decide to do a post-graduation in journalism instead of doing one in chemistry. It's been more than three decades, and I have for not one moment regretted that decision.

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    1. I'm so happy you chose journalism Pradeep - it gave you an interesting career and probably contributed towards you starting a blog. We've been making more decisions lately about getting our finances in order for the future - lots of stressful waiting and sorting, but I'm sure we'll be really glad we did this now and didn't leave it til we were older and less capable of riding out the stress.

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  18. So good! We haven't made many spontaneous decisions, but we really try to be intentional and think through them. I love the sliding door example. In 2014 I needed to go back to work, I still had one daughter in HS, and a door opened up for me to help out an elderly lady in her home. I did that for about4 years, when she had to go into assisted living, I knew I needed another job...my son in laws aunt (who I knew) approached me asking if I was interested in work. I love my job (even though I'd love to just be a homemaker full time) and I'm so glad I found it. It doesn't pay as much as my hubby would like, but I enjoy it, it's in my town so I don't have a lot of travel expenses, etc..

    Great post...good food for thought.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - I think you're really lucky to have a job you love and one that's local. Not many people get to say that about their work. I know that all the jobs I've had over the years have been useful for getting us into a position of being financially secure, but I didn't love a single one of them. I'd definitely go for less money if it meant having a job that I enjoyed and working with people I cared about - go you!

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