Category Archives: Repatriating

Inspiring quotes for your expat year ahead

by Margarita

In this post I’d like to invite you to play a game.  Below you’ll find twenty quotes – one per each of the 20 days left in 2011 (listed in no particular order).  Read each of them aloud to yourself and measure it on an inspiro-meter: on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the highest level of inspiration), how inspiring is this quote for you?  Once you measured them all, post a comment below with a quote that’s closest to ten.

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”
Flora Whittemore

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Pericles

“Things do not change; we change.”
Henry David Thoreau

“If you only do what you know you can do- you never do very much.”
Tom Krause

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To dream anything that you want to dream. That’s the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.”
Bernard Edmonds

“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”
C.S. Lewis

“The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.”
Italo Calvino

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
Aristotle

“To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping”
Chinese Proverbs

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman

“Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages”
Dave Barry

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Time goes by so fast, people go in and out of your life. You must never miss the opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you.”
Seneca

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be”
George Sheehan

“Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy, but this is not accurate. You make yourself unhappy.”
Wayne Dyer

“There are no extra pieces in the universe. Everyone is here because he or she has a place to fill, and every piece must fit itself into the big jigsaw puzzle.”
Deepak Chopra

“I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received”
Antonio Porchia

“Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don’t let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.”
R. I. Fitzhenry

“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 other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Steve Jobs

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Repatriation Pains

Some of frustrations we feel during repatriation are the direct result of the assumptions we have made and of the judgments we continue to make.  We assume that coming home will be easier than going to another country, we assume that our friends have been sitting around waiting for us to return, we assume that things run pretty much the same way they did when we left, and we assume that no matter how much we changed, we can still fit in, no problem.  After all, this is our home.

Then when we get there and our assumptions don’t come true, we find ourselves judging both our ability to adjust and the people/country we came back to.  We pass judgments on others that they are not curious enough about our experiences, that when we want to talk life overseas they want to discuss a new mall opening, that they all seem very close-minded when compared to people we met during our travels, and we judge that the country we came back to seems more like a prison to us now.

This judgmental perspective creates an atmosphere of bitterness, unwillingness to engage, and a strong desire to get on the plane as soon as possible.  We end up not really wanting to even give home a chance – and if the circumstances are such that we need to live in our home country, our adjustment becomes a lot harder than it needs to be.

In addition, these thoughts and judgments continue to swirl around in our brains and often have no place to go.  This gets us thinking the same thoughts over and over again, thus reinforcing the neurons that have already been created by those negative thoughts.  This leads to a set pathway in thinking and so we generate the same thoughts, engage in the same behavior, and create habitual thinking and patterns that are not useful for us.

Putting those thoughts on paper is a great way of disengaging from them and seeing them for what they are – a flurry of negativity that may have been invading our thinking.  When we write our thoughts and judgments down, we can clearly see them and then begin to edit, change, cross-out, and adjust where needed.

So try this exercise:

  • Write out every judgment you hold, every assumption you have made, and ever bitter thought that comes to you when you think of being back home.
  • Look over what you’ve written and think about how these thoughts are affecting you
  • Then decide which of those thoughts and judgments you are willing to let go off – and decide how you are going to do it.

This exercise (in a more detailed format) along with several others is included in our new Repatriation Guide E-course, now available online here.

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

How to manage overwhelm during the expat transfer season?

Summer has traditionally been the transfer season for expats and there are probably quite a few expatriates out there that are preparing to move to another post (or return home) this summer.  And even though most know about the impending move in advance and some even begin to prepare months ahead of time, for many feelings of overwhelm show up and continue to increase as they get closer and closer to the actual date.

So what to do?  How do we manage the overwhelm, get everything done, and find enough time to say proper good-byes to the place that has been our home for the last few years?

The following exercise will help you tackle the feeling of overwhelm and will also help organize your to-do list into a group of very doable tasks – all in their due time.

  • Imagine that your day is a bucket.  The same kind of bucket a child would use to play on the beach.
  •  Now imagine that all of the things on your to-do list were either: big boulders, small gravel, sand, or waterBig boulders represent the big, important things; gravel represents things that are smaller but still somewhat important; sand represents even less important things, and water represents things that are the least important.
  • In order to fill in your bucket in the most effective way, you need to put in the boulders first. What are your boulders?  List them on a piece of paper.
  •  Now think of what your gravel would be.  List those tasks.
  •  Follow the gravel up with sand.  And then with water.
  •  Then schedule the boulders, followed by gravel, then sand, and then water.

Remember, you can create your bucket using the boulder-gravel-sand-water metaphor every single day.  This way you’ll know that you are tending to things that are most important in your life and still will have space for the lesser important tasks.

NEW at the Global Coach Center: an online course on Culture Mastery offering how to be effective in any culture through the 4C’s ™ process of culture-emotion intelligence.

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Waking up an artist in you — expat lifestyle opportunity… and a learning opportunity

One of the common advices an accompanying expat spouse receives in response to her/his concern about losing a career/job is this: “Enjoy your hobbies while you have this great chance.  Look at what you love to do and do it.”  It’s a great suggestion and many newly-unemployed expats have definitely found a peace of mind in taking up pottery, painting, writing, or stamp collection.  Finally all of those things they’ve been meaning to do their entire lives were at their fingertips and they had time and resources to do them!

Then a few months later a few of us “impact-oriented” people (me included!) started to wonder.  So here I am painting away (or writing or creating pottery or sewing) and isn’t this the time when I am supposed to be getting really good at this — my new craft, professionally-speaking?  I mean I’ve always been successful at my work, I’ve advanced and made more money in my career almost every year so isn’t this the time to start booking galleries or creating my fall fashion line?  And if not, then why am I doing this?  Why am I spending all this time and resources on doing something that’ll never create any impact in the outside world and will never make me money?

This is when the old familiar voice of doubt starts getting louder.  Maybe this new painting I am making is going to be really bad.  Should I change this color or should I add this color or should I… just quit the whole thing and do what I am good at — find work and immediately begin putting in 60-hrs weeks to catch up on what I’ve missed?  The hobby I’ve taken suddenly takes the form of some race I am supposed to win and every day I am more and more afraid to screw up the canvas.

Has anything like that happen to you?  It certainly has happened to me — and it continues to happen once in awhile.

What do I do?

I go back to a great metaphor my coach and I created.

I see myself as a child playing in a sandbox, building a castle.  The castle isn’t coming out the way I’ve wanted and so I level it to the ground.  “It’s just sand,” I hear my child say and begin to build the castle again. Playing is the main point here.

Allowing yourself to play is the biggest gift and the biggest learning — and that learning comes from our inner children that we’ve forgotten with all our career and impact aspirations.  So how about making play the central part of whatever we are doing and remembering that it’s just sand?

Your thoughts?

NEW at the Global Coach Center: an online course on Culture Mastery — offering how to be effective in any culture through the 4C’s ™ process of culture-emotion intelligence.

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Out of the mouths of TCKs (third culture kids)

We all know that our children are wise but how often do we choose to listen to their wisdom?  Sure, we insist that they listen to us because as adults we… well, we know what’s best, right?  But what about listening to them?  How often do we give them the chance to share their wisdom and be heard?

The other day I suggested that my 11-year old daughter start a blog.  She likes to write, she likes to share her opinion on matters, she likes to be heard, and she likes to help people with their problems (don’t they all like that?).

“Blog?” She said. “What will I write about?”

“Well,” I responded, “you are pretty special.  You’ve been to a lot of places, you are a third-culture kid, and you can share your experiences with others – TCKs or just kids who may have to move and deal with adjustment.”

“Ok,” she said, still unsure. “But what can I tell them?”

“I don’t know,” I said.  “Why don’t you just write and see what comes up.”

And so she did.  She wrote her first (and then later, her second) post without putting too much thought into it (or agonizing over it), but in the end coming out with some amazing pearls of wisdom (read it at TCKids: For Kids by a Kid)

What have you learned from your kids when moving around the world?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the programming?

Parenting across cultures — a never-ending exercise in cross-cultural misunderstanding?

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the “programming”?

I recently finished reading a fascinating book by Dr. Bruce LiptonBiology of Belief. Among many very interesting things, Dr Lipton touches upon the difference between sub-conscious and conscious minds.  He goes on to say that during our adult lives in 95% of the time we operate according to the programmed habits and beliefs that are stored in our subconscious mind.  And that programming of the subconscious occurs mostly between the ages of zero and 6.

That got me thinking about my own parenting, the messages that my daughter had downloaded into her subconscious in the first six years of her life – and how being a third culture kid affected those messages.  I realized that as we raise our kids in cultures that are foreign to us, we unknowingly pass on – without thinking – all the negative messages that come up in us in response to stress of adjustment, relocation, and simply being a stranger in a strange land.

If you think back to times when you moved with your kids at the time when they were young, what messages may have escaped your lips?  What behavior may you have exhibited in moments of stress that perhaps became recorded in your children’s subconscious?  What cultural misunderstandings may have influenced your reactions to things?  And can you now see those beliefs coming up in your children’s lives?

According to Dr. Lipton (and to many others), re-wiring the downloaded programs in our sub-conscious takes a lot more than affirmations and positive thinking.  Since our subconscious mind is our habitual mind, the only way to change the program is to engage in a completely different habit time and time again.  That’s not an easy preposition, but it can be done.  The best strategy, of course, is not to create those beliefs to begin with.

Your thoughts?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Cross-cultural misunderstandings — got one?

Your identity in expatriation — will it stay or will it go?

To belong or not to belong — is that the choice we make when we move abroad?

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Expatriates – surviving or thriving? Depends on how you look at it…

Recently a few articles and books caught my eye.  All of them were targeted at expats and all of them used the word survive in some fashion.  There was either a title “How to survive as an expat” (Disclaimer: not the exact words); or an e-book on “5 Ways to Survive your move abroad (again, not exact words); or an article on “Survival tips on…”, etc, etc, etc.  All this written material  was intended to help expatriates and was offering help from the perspective of survival and having to survive.

Why do I bring this up?  If we look at the definition of the word survive, this is what we get:

  • To remain alive or in existence.
  • To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
  • To remain functional or usable.

How is that for a perspective?  How inspiring does it sound to you if you are an expatriate (or preparing to become one)?

My point here is that perspectives from which we approach our lives matter a great deal.  Perspectives can be empowering and inspirational – the ones that make us look at the world thought the glasses of possibility.  Perspectives can also be cautious and fearful — the kind that force us to look at the world through the glasses of prevention.

Looking at our expat experience from the point of view of having to survive is nowhere as fun and calling as looking at it from the point of view of thriving.  What do you think?

And how do you look at your expatriate journey?

People who enjoyed this also read:

A different take on expatriate motivation

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

Culture Shock revisited or is it all about going through the stages?

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!