Hindsight, they say, is 20/20 and so it is for us.  We figured out back in April that it wasn’t the magic number that would hold us back but we still didn’t seem to be moving forward at a great pace. What was it that was holding us back? If we didn’t need to save all that money, then why didn’t we just go now?

Looking back on the past year and a half we can clearly see that we were engaged in a process but, at the time, we didn’t realize what it was we were doing.

We needed to know more about what it was going to look like. We’ve been deliberately not putting too many parameters in place for fear of limiting ourselves too much but, in turn, we’ve became paralyzed by not having much of a vision of what the future might look like. The paradox of choice.

We learned, while traveling, that having a set of criteria can help any decision. Looking for a hostel room? No need to endlessly agonize, comparing one against another against another. The first one that meets the criteria is the place to stay. Same for restaurants. Bars. Beaches. Movies. Attractions. Tours. You get the picture.

And so, it seems, that’s what we’ve been doing. Determining the criteria that will help us decide if an opportunity is the right one, or one to pass up.

1. Jason wants to continue to work professionally. This, I think, is what was holding us back the most. None of my obviously fabulous plans were resonating with him and I couldn’t figure out why.

While I’m willing to toss it all aside and do whatever to get by (well, I do have a few ideas…), he has realized that he really enjoys what he is doing. He’s good at it and would like to expand it into an international arena. This means looking for consultant work with short to medium term contracts (6 months to 2 years) in areas that we are interested in living. The less we’re interested in living in an area then the shorter the contract would have to be.

2. In between contracts we would travel, or settle down somewhere else at least. The idea being that Jason won’t have to work all the time; breaks would always be coming and travel would still be a big part of our lives.

3. We definitely want to be outside of Canada and the US. I want to experience somewhere different; the more different, the better. Preferably not the UK, Australia, or New Zealand either; although each of these has appeal in their access to places that we can’t access from here.

4. I can travel even if J can’t. This is a biggie. We spend most of our time together and always have. I have never travelled alone.

We may not need to do this if we end up somewhere different enough but, if it’s Aberdeen, or Perth, or Aukland, then I may need to explore further afield on my own. If it’s Santiago, or Hanoi, or Seville, then perhaps less so. The point isn’t that it will happen but just the realization that it can happen; a nod to J’s desire to settle into a job for a little while and my desire to travel.

5. If J’s job search isn’t fruitful then we will go and set up somewhere inexpensive for a while and do what it takes to get by. This is the piece that closes the loop and sets a time frame around allowing the criteria to work. Without this we could find ourselves here even longer. We are currently thinking that we would like to be on our way to being somewhere else by the end of the year – this might be aggressive considering we’re away all of September and have some commitments in October that will take some time – but it gives us a goalpost and, right now, that’s what we need.

It feels pretty good to be moving forward, to know that we’re on the same page, and that we have the makings of a plan. It also feels pretty scary…and that’s how I know we’re on the right path.