New beginnings start somewhere. An idea, a concept, a dream, a suggestion, a realisation, a craving or a calling. However it starts, once a seed is sown, with a little nurturing, it grows.
Thoughts and ideas
I’m not sure the exact time my idea flipped to a plan, but it’s been a number of years coming. Situations occur, circumstances change, opportunities arise and time progresses. Reflecting back, there have been thoughts and ideas seeping out of both positive and negative actions.
My earliest recollection of a desire to live abroad comes from the late 90’s. I was working for a national retailer, hours were long, pay and bonuses good. I was in a new relationship. We were making plans and didn’t need two houses. Practically, it was easier to sell my house.
House sold. Belongings moved. Proceeds from the house sale banked. Celebratory meal. Turns out that was our last supper. The following morning, my partner had cold feet and asked me to leave. Within 24 hours, I was homeless and single. Within 48 hours, I’d also resigned. You’d might as well do do everything at once.
I had a plan. To head to Rio de Janeiro. Spend between six months and a year there and work out what to do next. The internet was still in its infancy so research consisted of regular visits to the library and enquiries to the Brazilian Embassy. Reality was I could holiday in Brazil for up to 90 days, but nothing more. While deciding what to do, I took a voluntary role with a charity. Within a week, I was employed. Life changed. Plan stopped.
Realising all isn’t right
Fast forward fifteen years and I was a single father of two beautiful daughters. I’d changed jobs. While I loved my job, I was typically at work – either commuting or working – for at least twelve, often fifteen, hours a day. Supportive employers, but lots of pressure and stress.
In 2015, I attended a family Christening. Everything got too much. I now realise that, commencing with a six hour period over the Christening, I’d had a breakdown. A complete breakdown. It was a blur from arriving in the car park to leaving the meal. I then drove more than 100 miles to drop my daughters off with their mum, and then a further 300 miles to be in Cornwall for work the following morning.
Parallel with this, was a house purchase and the need to be available for my daughters at an unsettling time for them. It took me a while to reflect on all the components that led to that day. It’s taken me much longer to understand. Those events reiterated that I needed to make changes. Only now am I ready to do that.
Everything happens for a reason. Every step is one of a journey. If there is no plan, I just meander. Clarity gives me the chance to achieve. I need a personal life plan, else I just respond to what happens. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
At times, I’m happy to meander. But meandering isn’t giving me contentment. To get contentment, I realise I need a plan. I need a focus.
Over the last year, my dream for a new beginning has shifted significantly. Sat on a balcony in Sicily triggered stronger ambition to emigrate than ever before. Returning from Italy, trips to Portugal and the Azores were swiftly booked. The visit to the Azores was beginning to look as much as a research trip as it was a holiday.
The pandemic cancelled both holidays. But lockdown reaffirmed that I wasn’t happy. I needed change. The conveyor belt I was on wasn’t doing me any favours.
For the next three months, I began putting ideas on paper. Building lists. Researching every aspect of moving abroad. Joining, reading and participating in forums. Attending webinars and listening to podcasts. Spoken with a friend who lives in Portugal.
Three months ago, I made the decision. It is time to start something new and Portugal is the place to do it. It’s taken more than 20 years to get this far, but the time is right for me to move forward with my plan.
I now have more of a life plan than ever before. Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a personal life plan. I’ve just meandered. I’m not naïve and I know there will be challenges. I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I owe it to myself to make sure it happens.
Thank you for joining my journey.