Take the Leap!: Or Choose a New Dream…

Patrick had been dreaming about moving to Chile since he was a young man. Lunch breaks consisted of real estate searches, his bookshelves were full of Ramon Díaz Eterovic, Marcela Serrano and Pablo Neruda, and he’d been taking Spanish classes at Front Range Community College for years. A frugal man, he was financially prepared to retire, sell his home and possessions. His friends and family were already planning on visiting him as soon as he moved. “But why can’t I do it?” Patrick asked me. “There’s nothing holding me back, but I just can’t take that final leap.”

Belle and Bruce’s lives were complicated. Belle was expecting, Bruce had 5 children from a previous marriage, Belle’s brother had just gotten out of rehab, and Bruce’s parents needed around-the-clock care. “We want to quit our jobs and put our life-savings into buying a farm. Then we can move everyone in, work the land, homeschool the kids, and get everyone healthy.” Concerned with the number of big decisions I asked, “How soon are you considering making these changes?” “Oh, we’re under contract to buy the farm and already have leads on animals. None of that worries us. We just came in to work on our communication skills so we can manage the different generations living under one roof.”

Understanding who takes risks often defies logic. From my therapist chair it appears that Patrick has every reason to move to Chile, while Bruce and Belle might be headed for trouble. Research shows that risk-takers tend to be happier, have a genetic predisposition, and build on previous risks (the more risks taken, the more likely to take them in the future). What I have learned watching people over the years is this: our wants are our behaviors. Patrick can talk endlessly about Chile but if he never actually goes, he really doesn’t want Chile. And although it’s certainly important to have a solid plan in place (Bruce and Belle did need a little support with that), in the end, we do have to leap to make significant changes. Where do you need to leap in your life?