It’s so easy to fall into the busy spiral of all the move logistics – the boxes, the travel, the shipping, the bank account, the apartment… A lot of us forget however that our mental well-being is also a big part of the move. The stress and frantic running around are not particularly helpful with this either. It is important that we feel happy and confident about the move itself as well!
I’ll be talking about professional moves here, where you are going for either yours or partner’s job, for a bit longer than just 3 months or so (ie. moves where you actually need to set yourself up at least legally in a given country).
In previous articles, you might have learnt about the stages of the learning process and how there is so much to do and think through on the conscious incompetence stage. If you haven’t read it yet, I really encourage you to do so! 🙂 In this article you will find a couple of suggestions that you might use in order to look after not only the logistics, but also your well-being before and during this life-changing transition.
What’s great about these suggestions is that even if you are already a couple of months or even years into your living abroad, they can also be helpful. You might especially find value in them if you are having second thoughts about your life abroad or there are things in your life happening that just make you wish you could be “home” right now (whatever that might mean for you).
I realize it is a very structured approach. But that’s why you come here, right? I provide frameworks, exercises and space for you to reflect 🙂
Some might say (and I’ve heard them say that a few times to me for sure!) that you just can’t plan everything and keep setting goals and be positive etc. That is true, you can’t always be positive and you can’t always focus on yourself! However that is also exactly why I think that sitting down and thinking through the Why’s, When’s and How’s of what is still to come is so valuable! Having a plan and knowing what is important for you helps you through the ups and downs of the expat life, increases the chances of successful expatriation and doesn’t let you derail so quickly!
Why are you moving at all?
You need to know why you are moving (or have moved) and how does it align with your values and needs. This will surely help you through the tough times. Let’s say you decided to accept the rotation within a company or take up a completely new and amazing job opportunity in another country.
Ask yourself a couple of questions and write down the answers. Bear in mind they might change over time as new aspects of the situation become apparent. Having the initial answers written down helps you track your progress and helps you adapt the approach quickly.
- What is the biggest value for you in that move?
(eg. better money, country you always wanted to try living in, you would be closer to the family, you would work less hours…the reasons can be countless and totally depend on you!)
Even if you are moving for your partner’s job, it’s crucial to realize that you are doing it for a reason – maybe your partner and relationship are of greatest value for you now? Or maybe you think it’s only for a while? If the latter then it’s probably worth having a conversation with the other person to align on the goals and plan for this move to avoid any disappointments.
- What would you consider a successful move? For how long are you willing to try and work on this success? Is there any cut off point or certain triggers that will be a sign for you to start thinking about a different plan?
- What would you like to do in case the move is not successful? Is there any plan B?
- What is it that you would like to achieve within the next 3 months? Assuming the view of the new place as you have it now in your mind – where do you see yourself in those 3 months (or any other period that you want to think through, really)?
- What are the things you need to achieve and when within this 3 months period, in order to get where you want to be?
- What are the things you still need to research, learn or practice in order to help you achieve your goal? Who are the people you need to speak to?
- What are the next few actions you can take in the next week in order to bring you closer to your goal?
Two useful tools to help you with the above!
Both of the tools are shared with all Project Abroad subscribers.
One is the Discover your Expat Identity exercise booklet inviting you to establishing what is of most value for you at the moment and create an affirmation which will remind you of your key focus every day.
If you are someone who likes visuals, instead of writing the answers to the above questions one under the other, you might find the second tool useful as well. After filling the form below and confirming subscription you will get access to the Move Planning Card. Thanks to this exercise you will set clear goals and next steps for the next couple of months. Useful for both groups of people – those of you who are only now starting to plan their move abroad, but also for those of you who are already expats and want to reconsider their focus.
*You only need to sign up once to get access to both files.*
If you already are signed up – check out the latest email – you will find the links at the very bottom 🙂
It will be really interesting for you to also ask yourself a question of how these most important values and elements of your identity might potentially change after your move abroad. Will they change at all? Will you still be able to do all the things you are doing now? Maybe there will be some aspects that will require some more effort from you to keep?