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To Move or Not to Move

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
How are you at making decisions? I’m big on intuition (ask Myers or her mother, Briggs); but I’m kind of wishy-washy if I don’t have a mountain of information and the results of surveying at least half the people on the East Coast.

Retired, I’m having a terrible time deciding what to do first. Life was so much easier before I retired. Go to work early, come home late, do what I could in the evening and on weekends, feel content. Now, by the end of the day, it’s what I could’a, should’a, would’a done.

Thinking back, I’m grateful that when I had to make one my biggest decisions, one that changed my life, I had help from above.

Oh, not that above, just the ionosphere.


I don’t remember if I’ve always been this indecisive. In the years before I retired, I was fortunate to team with a colleague who saw my gray areas as black and white. I didn’t necessary adopt his recommended decisions, but at least I had his unambiguous answers as a cushion.

I usually did follow his advice on the simple stuff. “Should we cancel the meeting? It’s supposed to snow.” What a relief to hear, “No, absolutely not.” Never mind that when winter weather threatened, he drove a 4-wheel-drive monster that was big enough to push snowplows out of his way.

He enjoyed attributing our decision-making differences to my academic and his military officer backgrounds, though I doubt he believed that. Anyway, I’ve known many in academia who, unlike me, never met a decision they had to dawdle over.  

My Big Decision

Getting back to the biggest, life-changing decision I ever agonized about, I had to decide whether or not to leave academia.

I had spent a year’s sabbatical leave in the Washington, DC, area, and I loved the change. A couple of years later, after I returned to academic life, an opportunity arose to switch careers and move back to the Washington area.  

Lining up the pros and cons with my wife, who is rarely decision-challenged, didn’t produce any clear answer. One never knows all the pros and cons, but in some cases, we weren’t even sure which was which.

I was ready to flip a coin until I was driving late one night, listening to the radio.

In the Washington area, I used to listen to a 24-hour news-weather-traffic report radio station on the AM dial. In my academic habitat, over 300 miles away, I listened to a local station that broadcast at nearly the same frequency. 

Driving that night, I lost the local station. Trying to tune it in again, I was stunned to hear the Washington traffic report. I knew the report was being delivered by a propagating signal, not divine guidance. Still, when the ionosphere speaks, you’ve got to listen. And I never regretted the decision.
A version of this blog post appeared on 27 April 2012.
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