In my very first post, I explained that one of my main goals for starting this blog was to offer readers information on decision-making. In a series of posts related to giving up my full-time job, I shared the parts of a decision-making framework I learned in my doctoral program.
I’ve also posted examples of how I’ve used the decision-making framework to buy a house, consider starting an AirBNB, and help my kids choose a college. There’s also my first “big” guest post that brought many of you here. It was my analysis of Sam’s Rent or Sell dilemma over at the Financial Samurai!
I’ve invited people to contact me if they have questions about decisions they are facing or if they are interested in being coached through the process of making a smart decision. And I’ve met some terrific people who have reached out for help over the last 5 months!
With permission, I am going to share the story and decision-making process used by a couple who contacted me. Their original decision question made me think of a song by The Clash that was popular when I was in high school in the 1980’s – Should We Stay or Should We Go?
Note: I’ve changed their names and some details of the situation to maintain their privacy. I’ll share their story in two parts. Part 1 will describe the background of their dilemma and how I coached them through Steps 1 and 2 of the decision-making process. Part 2 will explain the coaching of Steps 3-6 of the framework, along with the couple’s final decision about relocating!
I’ve had readers reach out with questions about changing jobs or leaving jobs to retire early. Others are considering relocating for new job opportunities. And a few want to pursue financial independence and are deciding if relocating to a more affordable part of the country could accelerate their progress.
As a long-time reader of Mr. Money Mustache and his forum, I wasn’t surprised by the challenging decisions people were facing about work, housing and saving money. There is even a thread on the MMM forum dedicated to relocation decisions. I’ve always wondered if my skills in decision-making could help support people who were struggling with these kinds of decisions.
In late June, I got an email from a reader and his wife. They were actually working on a relocation decision when they found my blog. I was excited that they were interested in working with me and we talked later that day. I shared that my goal was to help coach them through their decision and I asked that in return, they give me feedback on the tools I was using and on my coaching skills.
Introducing…Steve & Sheila
Steve and Shelia are a couple in their 30’s who live near Irvine, California. They grew up in the area and their families live nearby. Many of their closest friends are still in town and have bought houses and are starting families. In addition to being close to family and friends, Steve and Sheila love being outdoors and enjoy living in the area because of the beautiful weather and proximity to the ocean.
They both have good jobs, but Steve and Sheila are frustrated too. They have long commutes and their jobs are stressful. They are also tired of renting, but with a median home price over $700,000 – they know that buying a home will put them deep into debt.
At times, Steve and Sheila think they should just be “normal” like all their friends and buy a house. But they also know that “normal” can quickly lead to lifestyle inflation, along with the significant mortgage debt. The couple also shared that over the last few months, they had actually talked about moving away from California.
But why would they consider relocating?
Steve and Sheila were thinking about their futures and the lifestyle goals they desired. In addition to seeking lower housing costs, shorter commutes, and less stressful work – they were looking to simplify their lives.
They also wanted to be in a place where they could reach financial independence and possibly retire early. Steve and Sheila were looking to slow down and become active members of a community, while enjoying new adventures and experiences. They were also interested in looking for possible business ventures that might be available.
And while there were many positives about moving, Steve and Sheila knew that deciding to leave had drawbacks too. What about their families and friends? Could they really find good jobs? Would they miss the beautiful weather they had known their whole lives?
They would need to find new doctors and make new friends in a new place. And so many other new things too… Would it be exciting or would they regret what they gave up in Irvine? Steve and Sheila wondered if they were crazy for even thinking about moving away from the only place they had ever known.
Before getting too serious with any kind of moving plans, Steve and Sheila decided to take a month-long road trip to see seven cities in three states. They decided to stay in each area for at least a few days to research opportunities and experience as much as they could. They knew that moving was a big decision and that to make a smart decision, they needed to take time off work and use some of their savings to travel to each location.
And just before they left for their trip, Steve and Sheila contacted me about decision coaching.
In my coaching practice, the clients determine the amount of information they want to share with me and my level of involvement. My job is to facilitate THEIR decision, not help them make a decision. Steve and Sheila were “all in” and wanted to get started.
I suggested working on Steps 1 and 2 as they traveled to their first destination.
They needed to develop the right decision question. I explained that spending time, money and effort on the wrong question was a waste. They needed to nail down what question they were really trying to answer on this trip.
Steve and Sheila also needed to create their end goals by talking about what was really important to them. With clearly defined and ranked goals, it would be easier to determine which cities were more likely to meet those goals.
With an important “homework” assignment and a full tank of gas, Steve and Sheila started their road-trip!
In Part 2 of this story, I’ll share Steve and Sheila’s decision question, ranked goals, and the results chart from their trip. I’ll explain the couple’s final decision and share some of the work we did together along the way! I appreciate them allowing me to share their (slightly altered) story with all of you!
Link to Pt 2 – Millenials on the Move!
Photo Credit- Jeremy Sanders@freeimages.com