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Expat dilemmas – how to go into the unfamiliar

All human beings have a need for certainty. Some people value this higher than others and some can stand large amounts of uncertainty and still be fine with it.

The key thing evolves around how we cope with change and what we make that change mean. Because it’s quite simple really. It’s only when we have done something and look back at the result that we know for certain that we could do it. How does this affect your move overseas? In more ways than you can imagine!

Let’s use the example of Roger Bannister who was the first man to run faster than a 4 minute mile in 1954. It was thought for a long time that this was impossible to achieve this, but Roger believed it was possible and committed to train and push himself to achieve it. Once he’d broken this magical limit for runners, many others broke the same time limit in the same year!

Now, I’m a quite keen runner myself and this past weekend I ran my 5th half marathon. It was certainly not the fastest time I’ve ran on that distance, but I had full confidence in my ability to run it. Because I knew exactly what it takes and how much training and food I needed to put in for my body to manage the distance. However, if someone asked me to swim 3,000m in the ocean I’d probably have to do a fair bit of research, because I’ve never done that before. Enough about running now, I’m sure by now you get the point I’m trying to make here.

How then do you take on something unfamiliar and make it manageable? (regardless if it’s a new sport or moving really far away)

  1. Identify something you have done in the past and now do with great confidence (if you struggle for examples you might want to consider things like finishing your studies, learning how to drive a car, mastering a new sport, cooking a new dish or anything else that comes to mind).
  2. Disregard the specific steps you used for cooking the dish or getting used to drive the car and focus on your strategy behind it. Did you ask others/experts for help? Did you put a certain amount of time into doing it? How did you think/what did you tell yourself as you were learning this? Did you reward yourself once you hav achieved it?
  3. Use what you already know (step 2) and apply it to your new, unfamiliar situation. We will have to alter our strategy slightly when we do different types of things, but we know so much more than we give ourselves credit for sometimes. If you think back at the 2 or 3 biggest achievements in your life, did they have something in common? Knowing what we’ve explored here I bet you can find a lot of similarities in your approach, even if the things themselves were completely different from each other.

Now I’m curious to hear from you? How do you feel about today’s topic? And is there something you’ve achieved in your past and forgotten to acknowledge yourself for? 🙂

PS: We explore a lot of this in more detail in the Expat Survival Kit online program if you’re keen to find out more.