My last post talked about the power of vision boards … the mental sketching of our individual futures … the desires we hold in our hearts … the potential achievements that would bring a sense of deep satisfaction. Although I haven’t said it outright, a vision board might also represent a plan to face our fears, pushing us a little bit outside of our comfort zone.
Yesterday I met my friend Myrissa for a coffee date, and part of our conversation was about fear. We were discussing people’s reactions to hearing that we were moving to Ireland. Some were supportive. Some were horrified. Some said we were too old to pull up roots and just leave. What Myrissa and I have discovered is that those comments aren’t about us as much as they are about the people who uttered the words.
“I could have stayed in Seattle and been very happy,” Myrissa reflected. “I had a beautiful home there, I loved being near my friends, and I really enjoyed the location itself. Ironically, here in Dublin, I probably talk to my friends in Seattle more frequently than I did when we were all in the United States. It’s because the distance made me aware of the need to stay in touch. But I also noticed that people who didn’t want new adventures might express shock at our move to Dublin, because they would be afraid to do it themselves.”
I think Myrissa is right. She and I decided that the difference between us and the people whose jaws may still be dropped is that Myrissa and I (and our families) were willing to overcome our fears and welcome adventure. Since we arrived in Dublin last August, I’ve met lots of Americans who are living in Europe for a brief, measured time, or for an undetermined amount of time. One sentiment we share is the joy and excitement we feel about new adventures. For example, with other countries so close to Ireland, it’s easy and affordable to visit new places.
Myrissa gave an example of the adventures she has experienced just in the past couple of weeks. “I was on a distillery tour in Edinburgh last weekend, and next week, my husband and I are going dog sledding in Helsinki! I can’t believe this is my life!” My family and I have had similar “Can you believe this?” moments.
Myrissa and I had left the coffee shop by this time and were shopping for ski pants for her to take on her upcoming Finland getaway. The conversation continued, and we remarked at how one new adventure inspires another. Important note: You don’t have to leave the country to expand your horizons. This week, for example, I tried calamari and squid for the first time.
Since my experience living abroad began, my vision board represents a lot of “firsts.” I noticed that, unlike vision boards of past years, it’s less about financial goals and jobs, and it’s more about experiences and people. I’ve also noticed that, since I’ve tried so many new things just in the past few months, my vision of what is possible has also expanded. Years ago, I had a difficult time thinking about what should be on my vision board. I kept trying to ask the question, “What do I want my life to look like?” My default thought process went to creature comforts and income. Today, the possibilities are so overwhelming that I have to tame the list by what is realistic by monetary and temporal limitations. That doesn’t mean the bigger things won’t happen in the future. It just means I have to plan for them, and that’s what vision is all about. Looking ahead.
What’s ahead for you? Another degree? Dance lesson? A rescue puppy? Volunteering with at-risk kids? Visiting a new country? Changing jobs? If you’re like me, you’ll dream big. And if you need a little push, start with something small, such as ordering calamari for lunch, and work your way up to envisioning the ski pants you’ll need for your trip to Helsinki.
Photo Credit: Tricia Richards-Service
Tricia Richards-Service is an adjunct faculty member of the Communication Arts Department at Marywood University and a doctoral candidate in health promotion. A 2017-2018 Fulbright-Schuman student research grantee, she is now in Europe, where she is conducting research on breast cancer in Ireland and Romania.