Tag Archives: Repatriation

Five tips for expat women to use during a move

Summer is upon us (well, at least in the northern hemisphere) and summer is the time when most expats move countries.  We pack our entire households, say good-byes, organize our arrival the best we can, and spend hours, if not days, wondering if we are forgetting something.  And since the vast majority of accompanying spouses are still women, it is the expat women that weather the brunt of each move.

And, boy, do we step up to the plate.  If a superwoman cape were given out to each expat woman at every move, all of us would have by now accumulated a closet-full of those capes.  Yet how useful are they, those capes? And how much do we actually lose by choosing to become super-women during each and every move?

Judging by my own experiences, we lose a lot of sleep. And a lot of smiles.  And quite a few laughs. We lose connections – connection with ourselves and connection with those at whom we snap.  We lose patience… a lot more often then usually. And we lose both a peace of mind – and piece of our mind.

So in service to ourselves and to those around us, I’d like to offer a few suggestions:

Quit thinking yourself a superwoman.  Yes, it is nice to know that you are smart enough and strong enough and resourceful enough to move your family across the world without a glitch. But you don’t have to do it alone. Delegate. Get others to pitch in and do their fair share.

Remember you are a mother/spouse/partner – not a saint. Don’t make it a habit to take upon other people’s responsibilities during the move. Don’t feel bad that they are working/studying/traveling/etc. You have to give yourself just as much credit as you give the others. Your time, energy and effort are very valuable.

Send your saboteur packing. Stop listening to that nonsense in your ear that you are not doing enough. Even if you are organizing a move, running a small business, taking care of homework, running a household, etc, your saboteur will tell you that it’s not enough.  According to your saboteur, everyone under the sun will always do more than you.  Ignore that voice and fully recognize your contribution.

Make time and space for being lazy.  Yes, you heard me right – be lazy.  There will certainly be times during your pack out period, when you’ll feel like you don’t want to do a thing. You’ll feel like your cup is overflowing – and has been for sometime – and there is not enough space in there to add anything else. So give yourself permission, perhaps for a couple of hours, for a day, for a few days, to do nothing at all.  Read a book. Watch a movie.  Re-charge.  And remember, if you give your body and mind the time to re-charge, you’ll feel the energy come back soon enough.

Stop blaming yourself and others. Be easy on yourself and those around you.  Relocating is a difficult undertaking. You can be assured that your move won’t happen with the precision of a Swiss train, so let go of the expectation that everything and everyone will be perfect. Allow for some screw-ups along the way and laugh at them.  That’s a lot more fun than assigning blame.

What other thinking would you suggest we do away with when we move?

Need some extra support during the difficult transition time?  Remember that the FREE Expat Support Day is on the last Friday of each month!  Get some inspiration through a free 15 minute laser coaching session — reserve your 15 minutes here.

How to help your kids get excited about a move in 10 minutes

If it’s difficult for us, adults, to move from place to place starting over and over again – it’s paramount for kids.  Especially the kids whose ages thrust them somewhere between “I’ll miss my grandparents!!!” and “I cannot live without my friends!!!” sentiments.

So what are we to do to help those kids? Sharing information about the impending destination and communicating throughout the process will, of course, help, but how do we get them really excited about the move?

Here is a fun exercise you can do with your children to help them move from sadness to excitement in about 10 minutes:

(1) Get a sheet of paper, write “Moving to _____ “ on top, and divide it into 2 columns.

(2) Title the left column “Bad things about moving to_____” and title the right column “Good things about moving to _____”.

(3) Ask them to come up with the “bad things” first.  Write down everything they say and make sure not to offer your own opinions.

(4) After they are done, ask them to come up with the “good things”.  Again, stay clear of imposing your “good things” on them and instead listen for their ideas and write each one of them down.  This part works really well if you have already spoken with your child about your destination and things you can all enjoy there.

(5) After both columns are done, rate each thing you wrote on a scale of 1 to 10: 10 being “how bad that thing is” for the left column and “how good that thing is” for the right column (and 1 being the reverse).

Example:

“Bad things” about moving to ______ “Good things” about moving to ______
Leave grandparents (10) New adventures (10)
Leave school (6) Learn a new language (7)
Leave local TV (3) See snow (8)

(6) Sum up the numbers.  If you did your sharing and communicating throughout the process, your child will come up with a lot more “good” things than “bad” things and you’ll be able to point out how high their satisfaction is with the move as opposed to their dissatisfaction using the numbers.

(7) Hang the list in your child’s room until the move and remind your child that they can always look at it when they feel particularly sad.

Leave a comment letting us know how it went for you!

For another kid-friendly exercise that can help your children adjust in a new country, download our Adjustment Guide E-course — on online self-taught course that provides tools on how best to manage the effects of adjusting to another culture.

Also, enrollment is now open for May 1 start of the Expat Women Academy. a one of a kind program that provides expat women with strategies to overcome expatriate challenges.  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!

Move countries… adapt, move again… adapt again – one tip to ease the process of constant adaptation for serial expats

It’s often easier for us to name things that we don’t want in our lives than the things that we do want.  During the move and the adaptation process so much change is happening around us that it’s quite natural to reject most of it (because face it – homeostasis or the tendency to maintain the system the way it’s been is a very strong universal force).  And so, believe it or not, but this is when we want to become clear not about what we reject – but about what we are looking for.

The way to get clear about what we want, surprisingly, is to list the things we don’t want and look at the alternative.  So here is an exercise*:

Step A: List things you are not looking forward to – things you don’t want (perhaps dealing with a moving company, struggling with the language you don’t speak, finding household help, etc)

Step B: Once you’ve listed them all, take each one and turn it around.  If you don’t want that, what is it that you do want?  For example: I don’t want to not understand a word when I arrive.  What do I want? I want to know some basics.

Step C: Once you have all the “wants” listed, choose the one that seems most attractive to you at this time and list a few things you can do to get to that want.  In our example above – I want to know the basics of the language – maybe you would look for language lessons to take before you leave.

So whenever you find yourself going over and over things that you find annoying/frustrating/unpleasant/etc in changing countries, pull yourself away from concentrating on the “not wants” and reframe them into wants.  Not only does it empower you to change those things but it also lets the Universe know what you are looking for.

*This exercise is an excerpt from a larger guide to adapting in a new country — Adjusting Guide E-course, available now for self study on the Global Coach Center Academy.

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)!