Monthly Archives: March 2012

Warning! The luggage you want to leave behind when moving abroad

by Margarita

In the previous post I talked about the secret advantage of leaving your home country that no one seems to know about (read here).  As a follow up on that post I’d like to address the pesky things that prevent you from fully stepping into that advantage.

And the honor goes toyour saboteur.  Your inner critic.  Your committee. Your shadow.  Your… you pick the word/phrase to describe the annoying negative voice in your head that scares you half to death with the prospect of future calamities should you dare change.

When you leave your home country behind and the barriers seem to disappear, they don’t always disappear for good.  Whether you want it or not, inadvertently you bring quite a few of them with you.  Just like over the years you may have transported various bugs in your luggage from country to country (we are still trying to get rid of those silverfish!), you are most likely carrying with you the thinking from your childhood and cultural influences.

Some of those beliefs may still very much valid for you – but others may not be.  Yet, you don’t really know the difference because most of them have become automatic.  If you drive a car long enough, soon you won’t even notice how you get from place to place because the driving has entered your subconscious and you are no longer consciously directing yourself to drive.

The same with beliefs and habits.  Until you begin to question them and bring them into the surface of your conscious thinking, you won’t know if they are still serving you or if they are impeding you.

You won’t know if you are engaging in a behavior because you chose to – or because your saboteur is directing you to in order to avoid some grand disaster that’s purely an assumption.

How can you start really getting rid of that saboteur luggage you don’t want anymore?

Here are four steps to start you on your way:

Step 1.  Observe your behavior and beliefs closely.  What makes you think and do what you think and do?  Start especially with the times when you are having doubts.  Check in to see what thoughts are dominating.

Step 2. If you discover that you are engaging in “I cannot” or “I should not” or “I should” or “I should have”, take note.  A lot of these statements are the domain of the saboteur who will be working overtime to create fear of something in you.  Check in with yourself as to how valid those fears are for you NOW.

Step 3.  Try using a different language.  Instead of “I cannot”, “I should”, etc – use “I choose to” or “I choose not to”.  Take charge by exercising choice.  How does that change things?

Step 4.  Repeat at every opportunity.  Work out the muscle of knowing which of your habits and thinking need to go.

Getting rid of the saboteur luggage is one of the most important steps in engaging YOUthe YOU that you are meant to be. 

Want some support in getting rid of the saboteur’s influence?  Join the Expat Women Academy that starts on April 1, 2012.  Join us for a FREE webinar to learn more about it here.

Three tips for Expat Women

by Margarita

About a year ago I created “A to Z of Successful Expatriation™” Guide (available for FREE download here) and recently I thought — why not create a series of short, 1-3 minutes videos, on A to Z Tips for Expat women?

Why women?

When I interviewed 20+ expat women on their challenges while living abroad, I learned that many of these women share very similar challenges and struggles.  Now, of course, it’s very possible that those challenges are also common among expat men — and if that’s the case, I hope these videos will also be helpful for them!

So here are the first three of the series:

Tip 1 — A is for Attention

Tip 2 — B is for Beginning

Tip 3 — C is for Connection

More videos are coming up soon!  Meanwhile this is the last week to enroll into our Expat Women Academy — a program that offers strategies to overcome expatriate challenges.  JOIN US!

A secret advantage to expatriation and immigration that no one seems to know

By now many of us have listened to Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address and nodded in agreement.  After all who can really disagree with this:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” 

As far as advice goes, it’s inspirational, it’s moving, and it makes you want to just get up and go for it.  Right there and then.  Right away.

And then you don’t.

You don’t because life gets in the way; because old thinking – the “other people’s thinking” — surrounds you like fog on an early morning; and because overcoming years and years of conditioning by your parents, teachers, society at large and your own sabotaging voices is just too difficult.

A personal story: When I grew up, the thinking in my family, my society and my surroundings was clear – my future was decided for me.  With all the best intentions, of course, my parents ignored my natural talents (“who can make a living doing that?”) and directed me towards what they truly believed will secure me a safe life.  No one paid serious attention to what I wanted – the prevailing “truth” was simply that it was not wise, possible, or appropriate.

And then came the transformative event.  I immigrated.  I moved to a society where the culture was completely different and where the barriers of my upbringing didn’t exist.  It was like taking a tree from a nursery in a pot and then transplanting it into the ground where the pot is no longer constricting its growth.  The tree is now free to spread its roots anywhere it wants.

Looking back I now realize how much of a gift it was to shed those barriers.  But like Steve Jobs said in his speech, we are better at connecting the dots looking backwards.  It took me a good 20 years to get back to what I truly am good at, to what I love to do, and to what I am passionate about.

Immigrating and expatriating transplants you out of the pot.  You leave the familiar – and with that you leave the things you learned about yourself that may not be true.  You have an amazing gift to break out of the barriers, to reach deep down your soul and yank out the stuff that’s been either ignored or repressed or dismissed.

But wait.  There is more.

There is the tricky part, of course.  While I am beginning to develop those repressed and ignored talents again, it is so difficult to allow myself to declare ME to the world.  Because the nay-Sayers are still there — both from my past and my present.  This is the biggest piece of that pot that’s still stuck to my tree’s roots.  Not a day passes by when I don’t hear variations of the following:

  • “How can I possibly be that?”
  • “It’s too late.”
  • “Better stick with what’s been done and with what’s safe.”
  • “I am not an _______.”

Recognize those?  It’s other people’s baggage that you are still carrying.

So here is a tip.  Start small.  Start slow.  Forget about the grander “how” of doing it and forget about the destination.  Instead concentrate in the journey.  Do something small each day and nurture the inner child in you that’s hasn’t been allowed to come out and play.  Let the roots of that tree go wherever they please.  You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

“Have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition.  Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.”

I am feeling in my heart now that this is becoming a major part of my coaching practice.  This journey of re-discovery of who I am – of going back to who I was meant to be – is informing all of my programs.  So if you feel like re-discovery is what you are hungry for and if you feel like you want a hand, I’d love to help you.  You can join a group program that will focus on this (see Expat Women Academy) or you can get in touch with me for individually-tailored coaching.

I’d be honored to share your re-discovery journey with you.

And remember – not everyone gets to shed the pot by moving.  You do.  It’s an amazing gift.  Use it.

International Women’s Day tribute to all women

Just for fun I thought I’d celebrate this International Women’s Day by collecting a few quotes that resonate with me…. So here we go!

“I am a woman in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull.” (Oprah Winfrey)

“Divination seems heightened and raised to its highest power in woman.” (Amos Bronson Alcott)

“Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.” (Joseph Conrad)

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me naive or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.” (Anais Nin)

“In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.” (Margaret Thatcher)

“If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.” (Dave Barry)

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” (Virginia Woolf)

Any additions?

And especially for women — expat women –  Expat Women Academy where you’ll be given the tools and the curriculum — along with the community of women going through the same thing — to create an amazing life abroad!