10 things expat women should stop doing

Moving abroad is a perfect opportunity to start something new.  Not necessarily a new job or a new business, but rather a new YOU.  Perhaps tap into talents you never had time for or explore parts of yourself that you didn’t know were there. But before you do that, there are a few things you may want to leave behind.  For starters, here are your first 10!

Stop allowing guilt to ruin your days.  Feeling guilty serves no useful purpose.  You don’t grow or evolve because you feel guilty.  Nor do you become a better mother, a better daughter, a better professional, or a better friend because of guilt.  So next time the familiar pang of guilt shows up, notice it and then choose to put your attention elsewhere – somewhere where you can feel good about yourself.

Stop being everything to everyone Being a perfect mother while also being a perfect relocation manager for your family while also being a perfect professional woman while also being a perfect daughter to your aging parents you are leaving behind while also being a perfect friend is not possible.  Repeat – NOT possible.  Recognize it and give yourself a break.

Stop putting your own needs and wants aside.  Losing yourself in the messes and stresses of the expatriate life and forgetting that you are special too is common.  Children, husbands, employers, clients, parents, and friends are all in need of being taken care of.  How much space does that leave for you?  You decide!  If there was ever the time and the place to engage in your passion and do what matters to you, it’s now.  Remember that.

Stop trying to be someone you are not.  Take the roles you want to take in life and don’t take the roles imposed on you by others.  So what if people back home think you should be able to learn a new language right away?  Maybe that’s not what you want.  So what if your friends at home are surprised that you are happy not working full time in your new country of residence?  Maybe it’s time for a sabbatical.  Bottom line – take the time to discover (or remember!) who you are and be that.

Stop blaming others.  Research has shown that only 10% of our happiness depends on life circumstances, while 40% of our happiness is intentional.  So next time you decide to blame your spouse for taking you to this God-forsaken country or you blame the company for not enough resources, think again.  Change your thinking.  Change your intention for your life there.  Change your attitude.

Stop holding on to the past.  Yes, you probably had a great job and a promising career.  And yes, you were financially independent.  And yes, you felt like you were contributing.  And yes, you have none of that here where you are living now.  But you have something else.  So stop peering longingly into the door of the past and open the door of the present.  Discover what it has to offer.

Stop hanging out with the wrong people.  You want to have a positive experience while an expat, don’t you?  So why surround yourself with unhappy complainers? Choose your alliances wisely – remember the energy of people around you has a huge influence on your own.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself and commit to change.  Perhaps your move wasn’t as smooth as that of your neighbor.  And perhaps your spouse works much longer hours, your kids are hating the new school, and you are feeling like you’ve lost sense of who you are.  Take that as a sign that change needs to happen to how you are in the world and commit to that change.  Don’t skimp on resources here – this is the time to act and get all the necessary support you need.  Buy a self-help book, join an online course, hire a coach.  Move forward.  Sitting at home and feeling sorry for yourself won’t get you anywhere.

Stop explaining yourself to others.  Yes, you may have been a professional woman back home, but now you’ve chosen not to work.  And you may have decided to indulge in a history class at a local university while a nanny watches your kids.  You don’t owe any explanations to your friends back home who have been expecting you to start working as soon as you land.  And you don’t have to explain to your family why you are not spending every waking moment with your kids.  What YOU do with YOUR time and resources is no one else’s business.

Stop pretending like everything is good when it is not.  If you are not happy, voice it.  If you are missing something, speak about it.  If you need help and support, get it.  Pretending that everything is fine and that you are a brave soul who can wither all the difficulties on her own is silly.  After all you can be spending your energy on actually enjoying yourself rather than pretending that you are enjoying yourself.

Thoughts?  Additions?  Comments?  Shoot!

Find yourself doing any of these 10 things over and over again?  To help yourself stop, join our 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 be successful in stopping them!

ALSO — To benefit from the collection of tools, ideas and exercises based on experiences of expats from around the world, get your FREE “A to Z of Successful Expatriation™” workbook by signing up for our Expat VIP list here.

16 responses to “10 things expat women should stop doing

  1. 3rd Culture Children

    so true! I’m actually reblogging it! Thank you!

  2. Great advice for people everywhere – not just for expats!
    Thanks for posting this list, it’s 10 things we all need to remember (and it will happily enhance our experience and the experience of those we hang out with too!)

  3. Sheryl Buckland

    I agree with most of these and think they could also be applied to any change situation – at home and abroad. As a repatriating expat (after 16 years abroad and now back in the UK) the 10 pointers are also of help to me. Thank you!

    However, I have heard it before and I hate this one –
    “Stop hanging out with the wrong people. You want to have a positive experience while an expat, don’t you? So why surround yourself with unhappy complainers? Choose your alliances wisely – remember the energy of people around you has a huge influence on your own”

    and doesn’t it conflict to an extent with the last one? –

    “Stop pretending like everything is good when it is not. If you are not happy, voice it. If you are missing something, speak about it. If you need help and support, get it. Pretending that everything is fine and that you are a brave soul who can wither all the difficulties on her own is silly. After all you can be spending your energy on actually enjoying yourself rather than pretending that you are enjoying yourself.”

    Sometimes the “unhappy complainers” need positive people around them to listen, sympathize and help them move along and at other times the positive people will be in a slump and will become the unhappy complainers themselves!! I speak from experience on both sides of the coin. I am all for helping yourself but please don’t let it be an excuse for unkindness to people who need support. Your turn will come to lean on other people – let other people lean on you at times too! Just set some boundaries for everybody’s sanity.🙂

    • GlobalCoachCenter

      Thanks, Sheryl, for your comment. What I meant by “stop hanging out with the wrong people” is really about “hanging out” — that is, spending every waking hour with people who always complain and are never happy, becoming their best friend and confidante, and being with them only. Of course, there are times when all expats have to complain and there are times when all expats need sympathy and a friendly ear — but not all expats do the complaining on a regular basis and live in constant complaining zone. Yet, there are people like that (and not only expats!) – we’ve all met at least one in our lifetime. Those are the kind of “wrong” people I mean.🙂

  4. I really enjoyed this list, and love the empowering tone!
    I especially liked Carol’s comment and your response. I’ve found that when I spend time with those whose friendship enriches and strengthens me (and hopefully I do the same for them), I have more energy and compassion when I encounter others who are struggling and stuck in a groove of whining and complaining. It takes all of an hour – 60 minutes – to ask someone for coffee or tea and a sympathetic shoulder. Sometimes all they need is someone’s undivided attention and experience that they will get through the tough phase they’re in. After all, they are in pain and most truly want to feel good again, and will respond to kindness. As for those for prefer negativity in each and every aspect of life, there isn’t much you can do except smile, be kind and pray that someday they’ll decide they’d like to change.

  5. Leila Abu Gheida

    A lot of what is mentioned applies to anybody – male or female. I would include the following in things that expat women should stop doing:

    – Setting goals too high when you move to a new place. If you can get one thing done off your list, you are doing well.
    – Getting involved with a man from the country you are living in due to the exotica factor and thinking you will be able to get over the cultural differences
    – If you have school age children, worrying about what other expat moms think of how you raise them and how involved you are in the school. You cannot and should not have to do everything. Most international schools are stuck in 1950 when mom stayed at home. Speak up.
    – Trying to do everything yourself. Money is made to make your life easier. Get help.

  6. I like your comment about not pretending to enjoy yourself – however I do think sometimes by trying to have a good time and talking irritations up you can actually bring the good times to you. Positive thinking is hugely empowering. It is too easy to sink into the “I hate everything” mode which leads you nowhere but depression and other people avoiding you. I liked an observation an Irish woman made to me whilst walking along a Donegal beach last week in the relentless rain, ‘aah, more blessings from above!’ she said. Until that moment I had wanted to scream at the elements – but she made me smile.

  7. Many thanks for such a great post – I wish I had felt as empowered when I first started relocating. When you don’t fit into a box, the answer is not to squeeze harder, it’s building a bigger box..

  8. Thank you so much for these “well written”and clever post. I have just arrived in London because my husband was transfered. In Brasil I was working a lot, all day long. Despite I was working in the intercultural and Coaching field Im having thougt time here!!!
    I really like this part: Stop explaining yourself to others. Yes, you may have been a professional woman back home, but now you’ve chosen not to work. And you may have decided to indulge in a history class at a local university while a nanny watches your kids. You don’t owe any explanations to your friends back home who have been expecting you to start working as soon as you land.
    As I have decided to have 6 month studyng english and I was feeling guilty🙂🙂 Your article claryfied my feelings, thank you so much!

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  10. I love to know more how to adjudged rapidly to a new country. I think a book my help
    Thank you

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