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be amazingPart Six of the Expat ‘From Struggle To Success’ Series considers that when no one else is setting the rules, we pretty much have to set our own. 

Your new life abroad stretches out in front of you like a glorious blank canvas – deliciously blank and full of possibility.  Well, not always.   Waking up to a blank canvas every day can be quite daunting – overwhelming even.   Too many choices, new experiences and ideas to process leads to fatigue even for the smallest of activities (is this why we always sleep so much more on holiday I wonder?).  The chaos life in a new country brings is a real challenge – more so for those who have no corporate office to attend, team to join or paid work to provide structure.  We have to function within the chaos.

Artists and writers have a general reputation for living in chaos, unreliability and mess, and this has become almost synonymous with creativity.  In actual truth, the most prolific and successful artists and writers are ones with a strict routine and structure.  Many of these successful artists and writers have also been successful expatriates too – Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gaugin, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein to name a few.  In Picasso’s routine he would only work for the early part of the day and spend the rest pursuing leisure activities – even so, at his peak this he was able to produce up 8 canvasses a day plus sketches!

523-routine-cartoon

The artist’s routine seems at odds with creativity, yet neuroscience gives us important clues as to why this works.   To give this a car driving analogy; in our brains we have an area called the ‘Basal Ganglia’ whose job is to sweat the small stuff (where’s the gear stick? which one is the brake?) leaving our frontal cortex free to do the cool bits like deciding where to go and at what speed to drive.  If we constantly have to think about where the indicators are or how to turn he engine on, we soon get really tired (remember your first driving lesson?).  Leaving us only performing at a very basic level.  A strong and sustaining routine can be worth its weight in gold to you whilst attuning to your life abroad, where all the newness and learning can be really daunting.  It frees you up to spend time doing the stuff you really want to do.

Jazz hands

 

What Makes A Good Routine?

Jazz hands! No – only joking (although jazz hands are ALWAYS a part of any good routine).  This is the cool bit – you get to design it!  For maybe the first time ever, you get to consciously craft the days to encompass elements and activities of your choosing.  What if you were to design your weekly schedule around the simple task of creating joy for yourself?  What would that look like?  Consider these questions as a place to begin designing your supportive schedule:

  1.  Well, what makes you happy?  What makes your heart sing and dance?  What energises you?  Start there.  If you have small children your routine may mainly be based around them and creating joy with them, AND you will probably find your spirit and mind improves ten-fold by adding-in elements to your schedule that are just for you and that finding trusted quality childcare for a few hours a week will bring you untold benefits.
  2. What self-care do you need to do, what values would you like to honour more?  Put it all in!
  3. What elements of your week de-energise and ‘drag you down’?  Consider the following actions: a) outsource it, b) create a different perspective and ‘just do it’, or c) forget it.
  4. Tip – create your structure in an online calendar that is accessible via your phone – add-in time for planning and remember things like ‘self-care’, research, telephone calls etc.  Sometimes its the little things that makes the difference too.

For more ideas and support on creating a sustaining (maybe radical) routine for your life abroad, book a free consultation session right here by clicking on the button below:  

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Tune-in next week for Part 7  of the ‘From Struggle To Success’ series when I look at Finding Your Purpose – it’s a big one so make sure you get access to it by hitting the ‘subscribe to this blog’ button on the right hand side of this page.

 

HURRY UP – ONLY ONE PLACE LEFT!!!  We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited – the quicker you register your interested the more likely you are to win your place on the programme! 

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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 Remember in my last post I said you were beautiful?

Well, some powerful evidence has just shown up, which took my breath away…

 

 

If you would like support figuring out your gifts and strengths, or get help in getting unstuck, click here to book your free 40 minute consultation: schedule_session_large

We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited – the quicker you register your interested the more likely you are to win your place on the programme! 

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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Part Five of the Expat ‘From Struggle To Success’ Series looks at ‘landing’ like an expert.  Today is World Art Day, so I encourage you to celebrate the work of art that is YOU.

LandingCheck YOU out, you sexy expat thing you – meeeooooowww!  Yes you, with the eyes….reading this, looking at my letters, words, spaces and all, you are beautiful…I mean it, really really beautiful.  Just look at you…you fabulous human being.

Are you cringing?  Are you embarrassed by that?  Does this make you feel shy or maybe think I’ve gone a little crazy this week?  Has the little voice inside your head just gone and said something like ‘this is stupid, how could she possibly mean me, she doesn’t even know me?’. Good, you are alive! This week let’s start right out the gate by asking you three questions – I want you to score yourself out of ten for each one:

1.  How good are you at taking a compliment or being acknowledged by another person?

2.  How often do you give a compliment or acknowledgement?

3.  How often do you acknowledge yourself?

How did you do?

So, why bother?  What’s the point?  Sure, we can all see the value of numbers 1 and 2, but 3, really??  Me, with my Self-Improvement/Work Ethic?  Let down my guard with this self-indulgent back-patting nonsense?  Steady on!

Ok, so let me propose to you the following idea: a compliment or acknowledgement is an opportunity to see yourself and your gifts as you really are, stripped of all the nonsense we make up about ourselves and our lives.  How you really are is naturally resourceful creative and whole.  You don’t need fixing and you are not broken/lesser than/not good enough/insert as appropriate.  Of course, your may FEEL a little like those things are true at times but that’s just you inner light shining on some stuff that is no longer working to your benefit.  When we really connect to who we really are, our gifts and inner resources, something happens.  Our light gets a little brighter and our energies begin to shift, helping us come full circle – home again to our natural state of well being.  How to connect in?  There are many, ways but this week I want to visit the often overlooked art and skill of Self-Acknowledgement.  Self-Acknowledgement is recognising stuff and saying ‘yes, this actually exists’.   It’s the opposite of denial, where we hold onto stuff so it sticks around (the more we resist, the more stuff persists).  Acknowledgement and recognition releases, frees energy to work its mysterious, sexy ways to our benefit.  When we acknowledge ourselves, we truly ‘land’ home again.

Let me give you an example: when we are struggling, stressed and under a lot of pressure (like creating a new life abroad) it can be really easy to overlook, wash-over, diminish or forget about those gifts within ourselves that brought us to where we are today.  We spend so much time busying around, sorting the apartment, finding schools for the kids, finding where to buy groceries, worrying about finding friends etc – paddling like ducks just to keep our heads above water, we deny our experience, we deny our courage and we deny the fact that we are actually doing REALLY REALLY WELL.  Yeah, you might not have broadband (or running water), but heck, you are here and you are breathing!

So, my next step on the road to successful life abroad is to afford yourself the gift of truly ‘landing’ where you are.  Through self-acknowledgement.  Seat belts off and doors to manual:

1.  Make a list of all the stuff you have achieved in the last two years (and I know you are achievers…) – use your diary or photos to remind you if need be.

2.  Make a list of all the strengths and gifts within you that enabled you to achieve that stuff. What did you demonstrate?  What gifts showed up?  Working with a trusted friend or partner on this can be really valuable as they see things you might not.

3.  Identify from your list those words that you are comfortable with and those which you feel you do not allow yourself to fully own.  What’s difficult for you to swallow? You may find this list helpful: http://www.myvocabulary.com/word-list/character-leadership-vocabulary/

4. Choose two or three words from your list each day and take five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the evening to settle yourself in front of a mirror (or some other shiny surface if you don’t have one yet), and breathe.  Take three beautiful deep breaths and say to yourself ‘I am….insert word 1. I am..insert word 2.  I am…insert word 3.’  Breathe again and repeat as many times as it takes for the words to ‘land’ with you. 

If you’ve enjoyed reading my blog today, I would encourage you to hit the ‘Follow This Blog’ button on the right hand column to get these posts delivered direct to your inbox, and give yourself an extra minute or two of time for self-acknowledgement.  You are so smart…

If you would like support figuring out your gifts and strengths, or get help in getting unstuck, click here to book your free 40 minute consultation: schedule_session_large

We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited – the quicker you register your interested the more likely you are to win your place on the programme! 

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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tumblr_macjsqTA8p1qcg119o1_r3_400Part Four of the ‘From Struggle To Success’ Series takes a look at why having a strong and powerful perspective is just as important as packing the right clothes for your new lifestyle.

Many years ago I read a story which has stayed with me a long time.  A man was travelling home on a train with his young children.  The children were boisterous, loud and people around them were getting annoyed by their behaviour.  Their father did nothing, and just sat there, ignoring the growing mayhem and the other passengers became more and more agitated and annoyed.  When one of his neighbours finally asked them to keep down the noise, the father apologised, saying ‘I’m very sorry, we’ve just come from the hospital where their mother has just died.  I don’t really know what to do’.  In a moment, their neighbours attitude and comportment went from being one of irritation and anger to compassion and understanding.  This story helped me begin to understand the deep power of perspective as a route to changing our experience of life and our happiness.

But we’ve all done it.  Life starts getting to us, things, people, situations, get on our nerves and grow to the point of bursting, sometimes into anger or grief, but basically we’re stuck in a paradigm of our own creation because our mind gets overly-focused on Things That Are Not Working.  On a minor mission, we carry our perspective (they are ignorant, it’s impossible to get anything done, no-one can be trusted, it’s too hard etc) hell-bent like a badge, a shield or a heavy load, defending it and allowing it to exhaust us.  When we exhaust ourselves, the idea of making any kind of change is neigh-on impossible.  It just seems all too much at times.  I’m sure you have met, ahem, ‘those kind of expats’.   They choose to come and live in a country and then simply can’t seem to do anything but moan and criticise it, which is a desperate shame. Maybe that’s you?

Probably the worst part of losing a supportive perspective is that we just feel so dis-empowered, because we do not feel like we are living in choice, which is often at the heart of our sense of well-being and happiness.  It can even feel a little like living in prison, which is exactly what some people feel like living abroad.

The thing is that whilst we can’t change the weather, the language, the culture or whatever else is draining our inner resources, we can choose how we approach them and how we react to them.  It is possible and not only that, I think that a conscious choosing of a new perspective is utterly vital to getting unstuck.  It allows creativity, a sense of freedom and action to flow, and we all know how good that feels.   When we experience ourselves in choice, all manner of energies and magic starts to be created and it can be as fast as turning on the light switch.

Consider this.  When you go out into your new neighbourhood or new country today, what are the perspectives you are carrying with you?  How do these perspectives affect your experience of this country and your current life?  What works and what doesn’t?  What do you want to change?

Join me next week when I look at step 4 in the ‘From Struggle To Success Expat Plan’ series – ‘Acknowledgement’.

NEW!  Keep an eye out for my ‘Kickass Expat’ interview series where I meet with people around the world who have upped and changed their lives beyond measure.  See what hits and misses they have had building lives abroad and get cool tips and pointers for success.  Hit the ‘Follow This Blog’ button on the right hand column to get these posts delivered direct to your inbox.

If you would like to create a powerful perspective for your life abroad, or get help in getting unstuck, click here to book your free 40 minute consultation: schedule_session_large

 

We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited so register your interest below NOW!

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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 Multi-Task

The addendum to why not being selfish is in fact, selfish.  Part Three in the series ‘From Struggle To Success, From Miserable to Magnificent’ for fulfilled Expatriate living.  

Yesterday I shared with you a personal story of my own realisation about my self-care.  Today, I look at common signs of poor self-care whilst living abroad.  Self-care is not a luxury commodity.  In the busy, multi-responsibility world we live in, it’s a basic necessity if you want to perform at your absolute best – not only for yourself but for everyone around you.  Care for yourself and you send a message to the world that you are hot stuff, you value yourself, take yourself seriously and so should others.  Be the inspiration by taking care of you first.

Basic Safety.  Your car is poorly maintained or your driver smells of alcohol when he picks you up.  You are lacking mosquito nets or the water/electricity/gas in your apartment is poorly maintained.  When we move abroad (to emerging economies particularly) we sometimes encounter very different views about the value of life and safety – so do what you can you make sure you are comfortable with the safety of your environment.  Take pictures, communicate and don’t let it go until you have satisfaction or that you feel everything has been done as well as possible given the cultural environment.  The HR department back home probably have limited understanding of what life is really like where you are and the locals probably think you are mad to ask for certain safety features.  If this is a worry for you then determine your own levels of comfort around this and communicate from there.

No Support Network – you live in a foreign country yet don’t have health insurance, a dentist, a doctor or you don’t know the emergency number for the country you live in.  You may not have anyone you can safely leave your kids with for a few hours in case you have a health appointment.  Make it a priority this week to sort this out.  It will ease your mind knowing that should something happen, the net is there to catch you.  Take away the worry at the back of your mind.

Avoiding social situations – this is an indicator that something is not ok.  We are social animals and generally do need social interaction.  Some Expat loneliness is part of the course, but do not allow it to define you and certainly don’t let it continue for long periods.  If you feel out of your depth or just plain unhappy make contact with one person each day – reach out to your consulate, a neighbour, counsellor, coach or local leader of an expatriate social group or online community.  Please don’t struggle alone, there are many other ways.

Lack of sleep.  You are too wired to sleep, jet-lagged, brain still on-charge, thoughts going around like a stuck record or you have a small baby that needs attention or snoring partner or are just simply burning the candle at both ends (too many Inter-Nations parties??).  Not enough sleep is a slippery slope which is connected to poor cognitive functioning, unhealthy weight-gain and depression.  If this is you everything in your power to get more sleep.  Most adults need between 7 and 10 hours sleep (I personally need about 9 to be truly on top form).    If you could choose only to do one thing differently, make it this one. For helpful ideas go to http://huff.to/bR4CFb

Over-committing – financially, socially to work or domestic chores, whatever.  Thinking you can do it all or have it all.  You can’t.  You don’t have time or you don’t have the same financial resources as some others in your social group.  We are all different.  Get over it and decide what it is you really do want (think either/or rather than ‘and’).  Prioritise.  There will always be things that won’t get done, purchased or attended.  You will NEVER do it all.

Refusal to delegate – If it’s not hero status you are after then this could be a simple case of lack of trust.  Sometimes you have to let go.  Yes, others will make mistakes but unless you let them have the space to do so, you’ll just keep yourself at the centre of all the work (and the pain).  Train people and train them well, whether co-workers or your maid – sure there may be a challenging period of transition when things get worse before they get better (or not – who knows?) but think of this as the ‘chrysalis time’ – after all this work a newer, more beautiful thing will emerge .  Share the load and watch your health and sanity improve in spades.  Don’t try and be the hero – no one wins and you may miss out on some amazing experience – isn’t that why you moved here? Remember also that if you are in a position of responsibility that your behaviour will likely set the culture around you – be careful of what you create.

Difficulty saying no.  An absolute must if you are serious about your own health, and that of your nearest and dearest.  Say no to your boss when appropriate, and your co-workers.  Say no to your children.  Start saying no more and standing in your power.   The worst that can happen is they hate you, judge you or have a serious discussion about your future, so pick your battles well and prepare accordingly.  Just take it as a sign that things are changing.  We humans really don’t like change.  Send the message up and send it LOUD.  You are a person with limited daily resources and you cannot do everything or be everything to everybody.  You need rest too, to refill your tank so you have something to give back.  Moving abroad is a stressful time, so ensure you add-in extra time for self-care – do your best to get the first few weeks there as holiday/admin time to ensure you set yourself and your family up well, otherwise its goodbye weekends or you end up doing personal stuff during work hours.

‘That’s Just The Way It Is’ is the number one phrase I hear from people who are so deep into behaviours of self-sabotage they cannot see another way of life.  This is our internal saboteur working flat out to keep us in pain – and it’s working.  If this sounds like you and you are happy, great – carry on and get what you have always got. If you are bored or suspicious of this thinking then get some help to create some new perspectives and brainstorm alternatives.  Hire a coach or get a trusted friend to tell you what they see (choose your most plain-speaking one if possible).

Sugar, Alcohol, Caffeine and Cigarettes – we all have our favourite dirty little habit, and hell, life would be so dull it we were all perfect.   If you go to these things to help you ‘get through the day’ then you likely have some self-care issues, probably related to tiredness and stress.  When we are very tired our body starts to want glucose and crave the energy kicks that these stimulants give us.  Their impact is fleeting sensations of wellness, followed by worsened feelings afterwards.  Life is a balance but if you think these habits are getting out of balance to the point where you are abusing them, it’s time to take stock.  Get help from your doctor, health practitioner, pharmacist or support group.  More health is available to you if you want it.

Non-Specific Health Problems.  Frequent trips to the doctor with lots of different complaints, none of which amounts to anything specific.  It could be a sign of an underlying condition such as depression or it could be a change of lifestyle, exercise or diet that is required.  Connect to your internal wisdom to help cipher what’s going on and pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you.  Addictions to alcohol, drugs and sex are commonplace within all communities, but it can be easier to fall into and harder to climb out of if you are living abroad.

Repetitive Negative Thoughts, Worrying, Regrets and Comparisons.  Imagine you start going into a gym and exercising.  You have a nice little routine, you push some weights, do some circuits and it feels a bit uncomfortable at first but then, after a few sessions you need heavier weights or more repetition to get the same results.  Now imagine that instead of weight and going to the gym, the same thing is happening every time you THINK.  You are building mental muscles with THOUGHTS.  Negative thoughts and positive thoughts.  You push them round and round your mind, going over and over your circuit, sometimes adding more weights, and before you know it you have built up a habitual pattern of thought.  The more you think about them, them more natural they feel, and the more easily your mind goes to them because the neural pathways are fresh and easy to find.  It feels normal.  What are your prevailing thoughts – are they negative or positive?  To break patterns that do not support your self-care programme, you need to know what they are.  Keep a journal.  What are the patterns/triggers/outcomes of these thoughts?  How would you like to change them?  Expatriate life is a time for change – you get to reinvent yourself so go for it – how could you better support yourself if you changed your thinking?

For help creating a personalised expat self-care plan, contact me on +44 (0)20 7193 7251 or email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com.

We are running a free group coaching and mentoring programme for trailing spouses and accompanying partners starting in May for 12 weeks.  This is the only time this programme will be free so sign-up now to get more information. Places are limited so register your interest below NOW!

Water skiing

Yes, I want more Va-va Voom In My Life, Add My Name To The List!

Take care, have fun, grow and flourish, wherever you are!

Amanda Email Pic 2   

To book a free 40 minute session with me to work on creating your personal expat success plan, email me on info@globaltalentcoaching.com or telephone +44 (0)20 7193 7251 now.

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