(As featured in Expat Women, relating to life as an Expat but can be considered in all areas of life)
For expat couples moving to a new country for the start of a new job; it is not uncommon to find that for the labour of love one side of the couple has followed the other. If you didn't, you will certainly know someone who has? The idea of the tax free income, the promotion, the financial freedom and sunshine is a lure that is difficult to pass up.
However as we are all aware when we choose a path driven by our partner, if we don’t find a way to manage our own path we can often find ourselves down an unintended side road that can have no return. This side road is full of resentment for all the things we left behind, we remember the past fondly and see darkness in front, no matter if this is reality or not. Our minds don’t stay in the present when we are on this side road. It see-saws between what you want back and where you don’t want to be.
I have seen the breakdown of relationships in the expat community or the backtracking that takes place to leave the ‘golden opportunity’ that was originally sought due to the unsettling of the other half.
Now, the unhappiness comes from a place where fear of the unknown and inability to make the very drastic changes to our day to day lives, does to us. Not only do our lives change when we move; the daily patterns, friends, family, culture but every sense is trying to adjust all at the same time.
So we know the results of what not making your own life can and will likely do. It is hugely important to make the new life for your family, but even more importantly for yourself. To do all the things you dreamed to do but never did before, this is the time for that.
My point here, is it is not our partners or anyone elses' responsibility to build a path for us. Expat life while sometimes can lack some depth, is a privileged life. So I offer the following top tips to set you up if you are just moving here or you are struggling to adjust to life.
Practice mindfulness daily. Go to a class or download an app, but make it a habit, this will immediately allow your mind to be bought to the present, to enjoy the surroundings you are in.
Make an effort to meet people through work. Neighbours. Community events. Join sporting clubs. Try sports you use to play but didn’t have time before.
Be a yes person
Say yes to things. Even if you think you wouldn't enjoy them, they aren't your thing. Just say yes as something might come from it that is more your thing.
Make a list of dreams
Of all the things you’ve always wanted to do, now most people will have the means and time to do it. Start to find ways to make those things happen.
Be in touch with family and friends from home through social media. Make it so regular the missing of them is lessened or diminished.
It might not be home, it might not be what you expected. But you can enjoy it by training your brain to enjoy the moment.