‘Living the dream’ involves making some hard choices

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Grey nomads face caravan choices
So many options ... which one is best?

Even after a lifetime of making decisions about work, housing, family, and finances, most grey nomads still find taking the Big Lap leap a daunting proposition.

Opting to hit the open road on an extended adventure is a lifechanging move that ranks right up there with getting married or starting a family.

And that can be just the start.

Should you sell the house? Rent it out? Buy a smaller place? Caravan or motorhome? Mainly free camps or mainly caravan parks? Clockwise or anti-clockwise?

The tried and tested method for dealing with this avalanche of big decisions is to write down a list of pros and cons for each possible course of action and assess from there. However, Steven Johnson – the author of the recently published ‘Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most’ – says the science of making difficult choices is now evolving.

“There is no foolproof algorithm for life’s difficult choices but the research shows that you can get better at making them,” he said. “One important insight that has emerged from research is the importance of generating alternatives to any course of action you are considering.”

Studies have shown a strong correlation between the number of alternatives deliberated and the ultimate success of the decision. For grey nomads that might mean not just thinking ‘shall we travel in the caravan forever or not go at all?’ but also ‘have we thought about travelling for six months?’ or ‘maybe we should mix it with some housesitting’.

According to the research, the best way for people to expand their options is to diversify the group of people helping them make the decision. In other words, don’t just endlessly seek re-enforcement from various people who have travelled forever in a caravan and love it … find people who hated it, chat to motorhomers, meet those who take cruises as well as road trips, and those who prefer to stay in motels and cabins as they travel.

The way you look at a decision is also important in making it the right one. University of Pennsylvania professor, Adam Grant, said research had shown that those he dubbed ‘maximisers’, that is people who only settled for the best of everything, weren’t generally satisfied.

“They spent more time comparing their outcomes to their peers … and ruminated more about ‘what if’ scenarios,” he said. “Searching for the best made them less happy.”

Having the perfect rig then doesn’t really matter that much if you are still worrying endlessly about whether you made the right choice.

Perhaps social psychologist, Ellen Langer, had the best advice of all for grey nomads. “Don’t make the right decision,” she said. “Make the decision right.”

  • How do you make the big decisions affecting your Big Lap? Comment below.

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7 Responses to ‘Living the dream’ involves making some hard choices

  1. It was a no brainer for us. We wanted to see the wildflowers so to go anti clockwise was the only choice. They come out up north first and we went south as they spread south

  2. Geez thats a lot of words !!!Not sure it helps !!!

  3. ‘Just Drive’ as the song says…..

  4. Sometimes over thinking options is more about avoiding making a decision.

  5. If you are going to be on on the road full time, does it matter which way you go. In fact we don’t really go in a ‘certain’ direction, we go where the whim takes us. Sometimes we get to a T intersection and toss a coin for left or right. We’ve found some great places doing this.

  6. what a great way to operate Julia Ross. Don’t plan just go.

  7. It is any wonder that the up and coming generation are suffering from mental health issues when we make such a fuss about how to make a decision. I can always remember my father saying tome “just make a decision, any decision because it is usually neither right or wrong”. What he meant by that was that whatever decision you make leads you to an experience that you normally haven’t had before. So enjoy it and if it’s not for you change it and make another decision, but for God sake do something. I wish we would all stop complicating life with all this BS about what is right and what is wrong, it is all different for each of us.

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