THE SECRET TO BEING A HAPPY EXPAT
You took the Call to move abroad, or leave your previous expat posting for a new, unknown location. And now what?
At some not so distant point in the past, you made a conscious decision to move. But for many expats, more frequently the trailing spouse, home sickness and an overall sense of being lost takes over. As an expat myself, I was intrigued and saddened by this apparent contradiction: expats are not refugees, they came on their own will and often cushioned by a nice financial incentive package. What is happening and why are magazines like Global Connection and the local Overseas Clubs so full of heart breaking stories and suggestions on how to better cope with being an expat?
Once I started coaching expats I learned their stories of making a sacrifice (moving abroad) to support a greater goal. This greater goals looses its appeal as the reality of living far away from loved ones, missing your lifestyle and the daily grind instead of travel adventure takes over. For trailing spouses, the greater goal is often to support their spouse’s career, for working expats it is the desire to bring their expertise to unchartered waters and make their mark.
Usually, one group looks at the other with utter confusion: The working spouse sees his partner go off to a daily golf game or taking photography classes while he has to sweat at the office. The trailing spouse clamors for the recognition in the workplace while she has to deal with inept staff (if you live in a 3rd world country) or adjust to the unexpected cost of living (if you moved to a high prices locale your expat allowance barely covers). What’s wrong with this picture?
What helps is to focus on one thing at a time, otherwise we drown in the noise and confusion called Relocation. To bring some structure to this situation, lets look at these questions:
# 1 What made you decide to come to this foreign country?
#2 On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about living here?
#3 Where do you want to be on that scale?
You will want to remember years of your life having spent in a meaningful and fulfilling way, going home richer than you came. I guarantee, you will not want to remember endless hours of bitching about daily stuff with fellow expats.
If we have a clear understanding of the Why, the What and the shape of the dream, you stand a very good chance of living it.