10 Things Expats Should Stop Doing

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By its very nature, moving abroad is about doing something new. Many expatriates take it as an opportunity to tap into talents that have been left dormant or delve into parts of themselves they haven’t yet explored. In order to truly embrace the experience of living in another country and make the most of your time there, there are some habits you should first leave behind.

1. Stop Allowing Guilt to Ruin Your Days.

Whether it’s guilt for being far from loved ones or something more deep-rooted, we can all agree that guilt most often serves no useful purpose. You don’t grow or evolve because of it, nor do you become a better parent, child, friend, or professional. So, next time you feel that familiar pang of guilt, choose to put your attention elsewhere – perhaps on making a difference in the exciting world that surrounds you right now.

2. Stop Being Everything to Everyone.

Who hasn’t done it – trying to be perfect as a professional, parent, caregiver, friend, neighbor, pet-owner, etc. all while putting stress on yourself to look your best, have a clean house, maintain hobbies, and so on and so forth. Being everything to everyone is not possible. We repeat – NOT possible. So, recognize your own tendencies and give yourself a break.

3. Stop Putting Aside Your Own Needs.

Losing yourself in the stresses of expatriate life is incredibly common. Especially when you feel a responsibility for the happiness of the family members who came with you or for being successful in the job you are here to complete, it’s easy to put aside your own needs. Remember that you are in control of your life, your happiness, and the way you experience the world around you. If ever there was a time to explore new passions and embrace your needs, it’s now.

4. Stop Trying to be Someone You Are Not.

This is a time of defining (or redefining) who you are. Take the roles you want to maintain in your life, and abandon the ones that have been imposed by others. So what if friends back home expect you to be fluent in a new language right away? It’s not that easy. So what if they are surprised that you are enjoying not having to work at the same pace you did previously? Maybe it’s time for a sabbatical anyway. The point is, this is your moment, so take the time to discover (or simply remember) who you are and what you value.

5. Stop Blaming Others.

Research shows that only 10% of our happiness depends on life circumstances, while nearly 40% is dependent on our intentions and perceptions. Next time you find yourself blaming your spouse for taking you away from your home culture or blaming your company for not providing enough resources, think again. Change your thinking, change your intentions, and change your attitudes. That’s the real secret to expat success!

6. Stop Holding On To the Past.

Your life back home may have been at its prime and you had to put it on hold or it may have been a mess and it’s still haunting you. Regardless of what your past chapters may have looked like, you have opened the door to an entirely new reality. Let go of what’s behind you and discover what this road ahead has to offer.

7. Stop Hanging Out with the Wrong People.

You want to have a positive experience while living abroad, so don’t surround yourself with unhappy people. Choose your alliances wisely, and remember that the energy of those around you has a major influence on your own energy.

8. Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself and Commit to Change.

Perhaps your transition wasn’t as smooth as other expats or you aren’t enjoying your new job as much as you’d hoped. Maybe your spouse works longer hours than expected or your kids don’t like their new school. Being an expatriate can leave you feeling as though you’ve lost the sense of who you are. You aren’t alone in those feelings, but you do have the power to change them. Now is the time to get the necessary support – buy some books on managing culture shock, join an online support forum, or hire an expatriate coach. Whatever you do, continue to move forward because sitting at home and feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere.

9. Stop Explaining Yourself to Others.

It’s an unfortunate truth many expatriates discover – friends and family back home simply may be unable understand your life abroad. Maybe you were a professional at home who isn’t working now. Maybe you’ve decided to take a class at the local university while a babysitter watches over your children. Maybe you’ve decided to travel locally instead of coming home for the holidays. You don’t owe any explanations to anyone. This is your time, and there’s no way for people to understand what you’re experiencing unless they’re experiencing it with you. So, don’t bother with explanations, don’t internalize their comments, and continue to live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

10. Stop Pretending Everything Is Good When It’s Not.

Pretending that everything is fine when it’s not simply isn’t productive. It will only make you feel lonelier and more out of touch with yourself. If you’re not happy, voice it. If you are missing something, speak about it. If you need support, get it. After all, this time should be about actually enjoying yourself rather than pretending you are.

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At Global Coach Center, we work with expatriates to expand their cultural awareness and make an easier transition into their new lives. Global Coach Center is your gateway to a culturally connected workplace and lifestyle. We work with clients in every corner of the world to help them succeed in today’s global environment. With an international network of coaches and proprietary coursework, we offer coaching, training, and online classes for multi-national organizations, global leaders, multi-cultural teams, and expatriates.

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