You left your home country to build your career, thinking that it would be a flourishing path. Time has flown. How do you look at your future now? What is your next move? What will you do next year, in 2, 3 or 10 years from now once this period abroad over?
The uncertainty about the length of the stay, not knowing what could happen next may sometimes lead to focus strongly our mind on the present time. « I have enough to handle now, why would I get crazy about something I can not control? » Carpe Diem!
This is nor right or wrong! This capacity to let go, to take thinks while they come are a strength for people constantly on the move. This helps to maintain some kind of a stability in a quite chaotic world.
What may be a trap is that this Carpe Diem may also be a way to hide from our reality and the goals we would like to achieve without saying them out loud.
What is your strategy?
What do you want to accomplish? What meaning to give to your life, this expatriation and the ones that may follow, to your go home?
To talk about strategy means to talk about what you want. Strategy is not only for big companies.It is in your everyday life, may it be professional in small companies as in multinational ones or personal.
Strategy answers to a quite simple question: what do you want and how will you get it? The question is simple, the answer more complicated…
Think step by step:
What is your biggest challenge? What opportunities and threats can you identify?
What does this challenge look like? What makes you define it as a challenge?
How could you overcome this challenge? Write all possible alternatives down and give yourself time to let them grow in your mind before accepting or rejecting any of these.
Choose the solutions that suit best at this specific moment, look for quick wins: what could or should you do to execute your action plan? What are those actions? Settle deadlines.
Measure results : How did your actions help you achieve your goals, overcome your challenge? What effects did they have ?
A strategy is not settled forever, your goal may be. What kinds of adjustments do you need regarding the results you have had?
What about short, medium and long terms?
You need to think about your strategy accordingly to time. Steps and goals may be settled at short, medium and long-term. You face the risk of getting frustrated or losing your commitment if you try to follow your final goal and the steps it involves all at once.
Each step may have its own intermediary objective and needs specific approach:
Your long-term goal is your final one. It builds your vision, your mission; gives you a global direction to follow for your actions. To cut it short, « What do you want to do once you are a grown-up? ». What do you want your life to be after all these years abroad?
Your medium term helps you engage the actions you need to take to accomplish your vision. What would you like to have achieved once this expatriation over. How does it make you come closer to your final goal?
Short term is your present time during which you explore, focus on the options that may come to you, and value the needed adaptations. What can you learn from your current experience? Should you try something new?
How do you adapt your strategy to your environment?
You do not always choose where you will expatriate neither the length of your stay. That does not mean to give up with every action and option you has defined. You just have to adapt them to your new environment. Be flexible but do not give up!
Observe, listen, learn codes and normes belonging to the groups you have to get along with, may they be local or international. This will allow you to explore which opportunities and risks that may appear on your way.
Without losing your focus, here are some questions that will help you process how to structure your moves:
- What is your environment? Your host country of course but go deeper. In which seas do you need to navigate. What are your priorities? Network with local people, international ones or from your own country? Which role could play your home country or all countries you once lived in?
- What could you bring to this/these environment(s)?
- What could this environment bring to you? Think about what shocked, surprised or amused you. How would you explain this feeling? Can’t that be a hidden risk or an opportunity?
- What information is hidden in the local langage? If you can’t speak it, who/what could help you?
- How could you be heard and make yourself understood?
At last, are your emotions your allies?
Expatriation flirts with strong emotions. These emotions may be linked to your past or amplified by your future uncertainty and doubts. Furthermore, the expatriate often is stuck between self-confidence and lack of confidence depending on small success ou difficulties he faces; between the confidence and lack of confidence he perceives from his host society, from his family, from his home country. He always is between the 2 faces of a reality he want to tame.
These emotions can be a powerful booster if you manage to give them a meaning, a purpose. Without this purpose, they are vain; they lost their primary function: make you move forward.
Without a goal, joys are quickly forgotten when difficulties arise; fears lead to immobility, anger to isolation.
Breathe and analyze them. Celebrate success, write joyful events down; look directly at your fears, talk about them; question your anger: against whom/what are they directed at? Why?
Expatriates are true ping-pong balls: they know how to get back to their feet, be open to new adventures, are experts in job landing, in logistics, find solutions for whatever comes up. They are athletes. But pay great attention to overload, breakdown, fatigue and loss of motivation. The trap of the present time is that we only see the next competition or the current one without thinking long-term, about the period post-olympic games, about reconvert to something else. Fatigue and lack of vision lead to a loss of motivation which will finally attack self-confidence et esteem. Adapt your path, test scenarii, try some new if it does not work but don’t ever lose your vision.
To make it short, weave your breadcrumb! To live as an expatriate is as living in a labyrinth: you move a step and could fall on a unbreakable wall. Either you remain blocked, or you try a new path overcoming obstacles and finding new solutions.
Expatriation may also become your creative space: test, copy, innovate, create your own culture.
Article published in Le Petit journal de Stockholm