Should I Stay or Go: Choosing What’s Next as a Global Nomad
Should I Stay or Go? Anyone who lives outside of their home country for long enough will, at one point…
Should I Stay or Go?
Anyone who lives outside of their home country for long enough will, at one point or another, come face to face with the dilemma of should I stay or go:
Do I want to continue to live where I’m at right now?
Do I want to move elsewhere? (either home, back to a place you’ve lived before or somewhere entirely new)
My most popular blog post of all time is entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go: Making the Decision to Go Home.” I frequently receive emails from readers living all around the world in response to this blog post. Some of them tell me how much it helped them to reflect on their own dilemma, whereas others get in touch after reading it in order to see how online therapy could support them in making this decision themselves.
The decision of whether you should stay or go can be prompted by a number of different things. For some people, it’s a result of a professional opportunity, or for health related reasons. For others, it might have to do with the well-being or education of their children. Then there are dilemmas that are motivated by pressure (often unspoken) from family and friends—aging parents, missing out on important life events at home, and one I hear all too often—a pressure to return home to “settle down” and start “real life.”
Whatever it is that might be leading you to ask “should I stay or should I go,” most people find incredibly uncomfortable to be faced with this decision. Our brains don’t like uncertainty and I’ve seen that most global nomads, when faced with this dilemma, tend to cling to the hope that if they think about it long and hard enough, they will eventually stumble upon the realization of where exactly in the world they should be living. The reason my well-read blog post has been so popular is that it challenges this approach to the problem and suggests that instead of assuming the solution to the dilemma is figuring out where the grass is greener, it’s actually better to work on accepting the reality that “the grass is greener where you water it.”
For many readers, this shift in perspective is enough to help them make their decision. However others have reached out to me asking for additional support in unpacking the decision of “should I stay or go.” In these cases, I’ve found a tool developed by Dr. Russ Harris, a leading expert in the field of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, called “The Choice Point” to be incredibly helpful.
What is the Choice Point?
The Choice Point is a tool that can be used for all types of decisions, not only the choice of whether you should stay or go. The basic idea is that when we’re faced with a choice there are two types of actions we can take: actions that move us TOWARDS and actions that move us AWAY:
But towards and away from what exactly? The actions that move us TOWARDS are ones that move us towards a life that’s aligned with our values. In other words, that which is important to us deep within our hearts and what we ultimately want our life to be about.
AWAY moves, on the other hand are those that move us away from a life driven by our values. We take these actions when we’re wrapped up in, or “hooked,” by uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, memories, etc. Some common hooks for global nomads asking “should I stay or go,” include:
- Uncomfortable thoughts such as “I should be close to family,” “What if I regret my choice,” or messages from your inner critic like “You’ll never be able to handle it back home/new destination/current destination,” etc.
- Guilt, doubt, fear, anxiety, sadness and any other uncomfortable feelings that come up when you think about staying and/or leaving
New Questions to Ask Yourself:
With the choice point in mind, the dilemma of what to do next in your globally mobile life shifts from a question of “should I stay or go?” to the questions of
“What action will move me towards what’s truly important to me in my heart?”
“What action will move me away from these values and are more a result of being ‘hooked’ with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings?”
Asking these questions can also help to shed light on how therapy could specifically help with this difficult dilemma. With my global nomad clients faced with this type of dilemma we’ll work on one (or both) of the following areas to help support them with making the decision:
- Helping to clarify your values and what’s important to you in your life
- Helping to learn strategies to identify and “unhook” from the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that might hold you back from living that life
If you’re currently faced with the dilemma of what to do next in your own globally mobile life, and you’d like to learn more how online therapy with me could help you to navigate this decision, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a free 15-minute consultation.