Disruption is one of those buzzwords in business and in my case, the healthcare industry that was rampant during my tenure. My colleagues and I spent many hours anticipating the future, seeking ways to manage the disruptive forces and stay ahead of our competition. Some of the most successful companies seek out self-disruption. Apple is a great example. As I reflect on a question I am often asked, “why did you guys decide to move to Costa Rica?”, I am drawn to the strategy of disruption. Like most couples, we had a vision for our future and an ideal of how we wanted to parent and the identity we had for our family’s future. We knew we needed to make some changes to be living this vision as authentically as possible and improve as individuals and as a family. As a leader, I often said to my team, “you can’t keep doing what you are doing and expect different results”. I was being put to the test. I knew we had to create a disruption in our path, in order for us to gain the perspective we were looking for and to have the lifestyle we envisioned for our family. Our family was getting older and if our disruption involved moving abroad, the logistics seemed to be more complicated the older our kids got, so our time was now. Also, anticipating our future of raising teenagers in a complicated world, we wanted to pick somewhere we didn’t have to work so hard to be uncomplicated. Our disruption was leaving everything comfortable – our jobs, our home, our family, friends, routines, traditional school, and steady income in hopes of family improvement.
Our disruption has led us on a #pathtopuravida. Our destination was Costa Rica, but it could have been almost anywhere. It turns out it is more about the journey than the destination. Disruption usually leads to innovation – a more sustainable product. In our case, we are seeking a changed family lifestyle. One of the most obvious differences we have seen so far is the absence of materialism and commercialism. These are things we spent a lot of time and energy trying to minimize in our lives in the U.S. The struggle was real and it was a constant battle. It is a non-issue here. I noticed it at Christmas, but Christmas was 5 days after we arrived and I was prepared to have an “easy” holiday. Easter was another reminder, In the States, every grocery store is decorated; aisles are full of jelly beans, plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies, baskets and a reminder that you need to do more and buy more. I recall the pressure to make sure everyone has a cute new Spring outfit for church. That is not the case here, at all. Semana Santa is the Spanish term for Holy Week, a major Catholic holiday and it is a big deal for the Spanish cultures, including Costa Rica. Most of the country has the week off from work and school. During this week, many Tico families head to the beach, to enjoy sun, relaxation and family time. They make traditional foods to share and celebrate with loved ones. No bunnies, eggs, chocolate, baskets, bonnets or fancy dresses.
Another lesson has been to be patient and to slow down. The American lifestyle makes this lesson a hard one. Everything is so quick, convenient, and easily accessible. The other day I went to get our truck washed. There are no machine operated car washes where we live. They are locally owned and operated, often from their own homes. The wash is 100% completed by hand and took nearly an hour from start to finish. I sat on a stool in the driveway, as the kind gentleman did his handiwork. In the States, gas stations are on almost every corner. Here, I have to drive 20-25 minutes to access the nearest gas station. We have learned that you have to ask for your check at the end of the meal because the Costa Rican culture views it rude to bring it to you until you have indicated you are ready.
Removing yourself from all that is known and comfortable is bound to lead to personal discovery and growth. That has been the greatest gift so far. Each day we learn more about ourselves and our world. Breaking free from mainstream way of life and fulfilling a dream has given my husband and I the confidence to do anything! We are together all the time. Our life is simple. We are busy living life, not running a race. So far, no regrets and we are optimistic about our future.