Tag Archives: overseas

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.

How do you know if expat life is for you?

Someone recently asked me this:

“When you were first offered an expat position, how did you know it was for you? How did you know that you’d be happy living away from home in another country and another culture?”

I had to think before I answered and even then I didn’t really know the answer.  Sure, I know the “how I know” now having been an expat many times over, but how did I know it then?  Was it a hunch?  A longing?  Hunger for an adventure?

Probably it was a combination of all the above coupled with a few other things yet the question made me think.  How can a person who grew up in a mono-cultural environment (if that exists nowadays, that is)  know if an expat position that’s being offered to him/her is their cup of tea?  How do they know it’s for them?

There are things out there in the world that are for us and there are those things that are not for us.  For instance, I know that bungee jumping is just not my thing no matter how excited many of my friends may be about it.  The same applies to life journeys –some journeys are for us and some are not.  But with journeys it may not be so easy to know especially if we have not tried.  So how would one know if an expat living is their thing before they embark on it?

Here are my thoughts and I’d love it if you can comment with yours below.

  • I think that for those people, who thrive on change, this desire for change may be a hint that expat life is definitely something to try out.
  • I think that those people who crave adventure are also lucky to know in advance that they will most likely enjoy it.

What are other ways to know?

NEW at the Global Coach Center: if you coach, train, or consult people who work across cultures, consider joining us for the Culture Mastery Certification and License Program.  We start September 21, 2011 and a discount is available to anyone who registers before September 7, 2011.

To expat or not to expat: 3 tips that can help you decide

In today’s day and age expatriates are not only those sent abroad by their companies.  They are also people who decide to retire abroad; people who decide to move overseas on their own (although they might be called immigrants but more about that in another post); people who go to another country to study or volunteer; etc, etc, etc.  All of them have one thing in common: they somehow decided that living outside of their home country borders will be a good thing for them.  How does one decide that?  What can be helpful to consider before taking the plunge?

The tips I will list below may not fully apply to each category of expats but they will be helpful nevertheless.

Tip 1.  Consider the “why”. What is calling you to move abroad?  What’s driving your desire to relocate?  Is it the friends who keep telling you to do it and the grass just always seems greener on the other side?  Or is it the feeling of newness and adventure that’s calling you forth?  Are your reasons purely financial?

Discovering the motivation behind the thought of moving is your most important step to undertake before making any decision.  When you discover your motivating factors, you zero in on which of your personal values you’ll be honoring and which ones you may be neglecting. Making sure your values do not suffer in the process of your relocation is instrumental in making your move a happy one.

A simple process of making the decision based on values (as opposed to pros and cons process that most of us use) is the following:

  • First, identify your values.  What’s important to you in life?  Aside from food, water, and shelter what do you absolutely have to have in your life to make it worthwhile?  Make a list of those values (or if it’s difficult for you to give those values names, look at the list of common values at Global Coach Center site and pick the ones that ring true for you).
  • Second, chose the ten values that seem most important.  Imagine you are moving and you are only allowed to take 10, what would they be?
  • Third, draw the following table on a piece of paper and rate your chosen values on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)
Value If I move, I’ll honor this value at the following level (from 1 to 10) If I stay, I’ll honor this value at the following level (from 1 to 10)
Example: 

Adventure

Family/Grandchildren

Learning/Growth

 

  • What are you discovering?  What are your values telling you?

Tip 2.  Investigate. Learn a few things about your own cultural blueprint and about prevalent cultural blueprint of the country you want to move to.  This learning goes beyond the traditional clichés and the do’s and don’ts – in fact, this learning will help you see how compatible (or not compatible) your cultural habits and values are with the cultural habits and values of the majority of people in your host country.  If your compatibility is close to zero, you may be looking at years of frustration – so why do it?  You might be better off selecting another country if you set your mind on moving.

Tip 3.  Conduct proper reconnaissance. You are about to make a very important decision of your life, so consider spending a few months simply living in that country as a try out.  Feel what it’d be like for you to become the resident of that country for good.  Connect with other expats – those who are there for a short and a long run.  What are you learning that can help you decide?

Tip 4.  Don’t make this decision alone. Friends, family and an army of well-wishers will have their opinions about your desire to move.  And although they’ll be dong the best they can to be impartial, their advice will still contain at least an iota of how-will-that-impact-me thoughts. Besides, other people’s advice rarely fit when we are about to make a really big decision in our lives.  So find someone who will help you tap into your own wisdom — find an expat coach.

How have you made your decision to move?  Please share.

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Expat coach — where art thou?

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

What do expats look for?

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)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: W is for WILLINGNESS and WISDOM

If I were to come up with a cooking metaphor for an expat life, then I’d say that willingness qualifies as one of the major ingredients – a base ingredient, in fact.  Just like you cannot make a great cake without eggs (or butter or whatever you must have in your cakes), you cannot make a great expatriate life without being willing to do so.  Willingness is where it all starts – we must be willing to experience change, we must be willing to be open minded, we must be willing to learn, we must be willing to let go of assumptions and judgments, we must be willing to consider other truths and opinions, etc, etc, etc.

One of my favorite questions when I coach a client and when we are talking about a major step in their lives is: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to undertake that?” And the next question is “How committed are you to this course of action?” Willingness paves a way for commitment; commitment paves a road for intention; and intention helps us co-create our lives.

Wisdom is another one of those ingredients that’s a must in life – and if we were to go with a cooking metaphor, then wisdom is your recipe.  Unless you tap into your inner wise self, whatever you cook out of life isn’t going to turn out the way you dreamed.  Our inner wisdom is our resource to tap into when we have questions about the direction of our lives, when we need to make decisions about our life journeys, and when we need to find the road towards fulfillment of our dreams.

How do we tap into that wisdom?  With so much pressure from the outside, how do we make sure the world doesn’t drown out the voice of wisdom?  There are several tools you can use to find that voice of wisdom, but the important thing to know is that it’s not only about finding it, but it’s also about remembering to listen to it. Making a habit of consulting it on a daily basis and growing your connection with it is sometimes more difficult that finding it in the first place.

How do you find the voice of your inner wisdom?  And how do you make sure you tune into it on a regular basis?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

Always being in-the-know of our inner wisdom is going to be one of many important lessons we will discuss and learn during the Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired.  Remember that if you sign up before November 15, 2010, you get a FREE coaching session.  Sign up here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: V is for VISITORS

Most of us can agree that getting people to visit us is a great experience … in healthy doses of course.  Visitors give us an opportunity to share our lives with them (remember sharing is one of the 7 Habits of a Happy Expat).  Visitors give us a chance to take time out of our busy schedule and visit a landmark or two with them – the landmark we’ve been postponing to visit.  Visitors give us a new perspective on the country we are living in and open our eyes to things we may have not seen.  And, finally, having visitors means that someone actually cares about our experiences and wants to learn more about them!

So what are some strategies to have the best time with visitors in your home and your country?  I have a few of my own but since each country is different I’d love it if you add yours.

Here are mine:

(1) I make a list of all museums that are worth a visit and include the opening times, the days when the museums are closed, the entrance fee (if any) and the quick tips about each one if I have them.

(2) I look up schedules for performances for the time my visitors are going to be in town and send it to them ahead of time.  If they are interested, I offer my services of purchasing them tickets.

(3) I always keep a few spare maps of the city in the visitors’ room along with a map of public transport, if that exists.

(4) If I am in a country where renting a car is not ideal, I try to reserve at least one weekend to take our visitors to places that are not accessible by public transport.

(5) I try to show and recommend at least a couple of places off the beaten tourist track – and a few of very local restaurants.

What about you?  What are your strategies?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

Remember to check out our Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, inspired Register for it here.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: R is for RELATIONSHIPS

When you move from place to place as an expat, everything is different.  Your work is different, your relationship with your colleagues is different, your colleagues are different, the way of life is different, the culture is different, etc, etc, etc.  The only thing that stays pretty much the same is your family that comes with you.

The differences and changes we go through as we move often produce a lot of stress for both you and your family.  And since our outlets for stress are frequently those closest to us, many times we take our frustrations out at our spouses and our children.  And they, in turn, take their frustrations out at us.

These frustrations and the fights/misunderstandings/pain they cause act as underground water currents that slowly destroy the foundation of your home.  How can you stop these currents from damaging your relationships?

One way to do it would be to find another outlet for your stress.  Hire a coach and you’ll realize that the coaching fee you’ll spend will be an investment that will keep paying by making your family stronger.

Another way to do it is to go back to the basics.  Make a point of returning to those moments that initially brought you together (if this is your spouse) or those moments that you look back at with happiness (if it’s your kids and your spouse).  Re-visit those moments together — find that magic again.  Remember those meaningful connections.  And then decide together – what do you want your next chapter to be?  And how do you want it to be?

For more on relationships while an expat, you can read this post:

Trailing and not failing: how our relationships can sustain us in expatriation?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, 7 Habits of a Happy Expat and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!