There is something I have learnt the hard way and that is to trust my gut feeling. When I have convinced myself that my intuition or my gut feeling is wrong and gone ahead with a decision, it has always been the wrong one. It is easy to mock people who say “something doesn’t feel right” or “my gut is telling me no” but there is actually a real psychology behind it. Psychologists believe that a gut feeling comes from forgotten or suppressed thoughts, experiences and feelings so it’s not possible to pin point why something feels right or wrong but you just know it.
When we moved the Berlin we were desperate to get a rental after months of soul-destroying searches. We widened our search to a more outlying neighbourhood and on a reconnoiter visit to the area, my gut again was screaming no! It wasn’t a place that filled me with joy, quite to opposite. We found a beautiful apartment in the area and took it despite my misgivings and then spent eighteen months regretting it. We believe a different choice could have changed our whole Berlin experience.
On the flip side there have been gut feelings that have worked out splendidly for me. My first job was the perfect example, I had no idea what I really wanted to do except be a writer and a communicator so started applying for entry-level jobs in PR. I sent off hundreds of applications but there was one that I felt was me – campaigns and research assistant at CAMRA. I wanted to work for a place that I would feel a genuine interest in. I got the interview and then the job offer with a tiny salary. When I started I asked why I’d got the job and the reply was the interviewers had a gut feeling I was worth the gamble. The eighteen months I was there they took lots of gambles on me – I appeared as a spokesperson on high-profile news programmes, I learnt how to build a website, I was given a significant campaign as my own and taken on a lobbying trip to Prague – all with zero experience when I walked in the door at age 22. Mike Benner was my boss and I don’t think that any other boss in the ten years that followed ever gave me the support and belief in myself that he did – all because of gut feelings at the start.
Our move to Copenhagen was another follow your gut moment. With just a guide book and a weekend visit to the city I knew I wanted this place to be my home. And eight years later I still do.
So where is all this going? I am not saying follow your dreams but follow your gut.
Sometimes we want to rush things and ignore our intuition and moving to a new country or job means that we feel we must make fast or snap decisions but you need to listen to your inner voice. You may need to make the best decisions you can with the information you have available (another post there!) but take time to make sure you feel as comfortable as you can with them. But it is also important not to have too much pride and not admit that something is a mistake. I often hear from expats for whom the move hasn’t worked out that they can’t return home as they would be seen as failure. Quite frankly moving to another country in the first place is a massively brave thing to do and its even braver to say if it’s not working out or to change how you are doing it. It’s all about you. Over the years I have realised that for so long I was a passenger in my life and now I am the driver, as I do the best to follow my gut.