Last weekend I went to a seminar with The Coaching Academy in London. At events like this, at the start of the year, you find many people attending to take a harder look at themselves, their careers, perhaps, to make big New Year resolutions, and commit to changes in the very near future. The room was full. At the very end of the event, we did an exercise that suddenly made me think about my own expat plans like I never expected.
Imagine yourself 5 years ago. Now introduce yourself, as you would back then. Try it! What’s your name? Where do you live? Who are you with? What do you do? What are you hobbies and interests?
I turned to my neighbor who did not know anything about me and said: “ My name is Yelena. I live in Geneva, Switzerland. Just moved here as an expat from California. I have a great job, running sales operations for EMEA and APAC at a global technology company. I am about to take my first skiing lesson ever. I am working to improve my French. I live alone.” My neighbor looked at me and replied: “It sounds like you are doing great and there must be a lot more to come.” It was lucky that we were asked to go back in time to 2009. The way I felt about that point of time, where I lived, and what I did for living was making a very positive impression. It reminded me of all things that were important then and the image I had of myself- confident and ready to explore parts of Europe I always dreamed about but couldn’t get to easily.
Now think ahead! Imagine yourself 5 years in the future. It is 2019! Start with the same introduction and address the same questions. Make sure you speak about it with confidence as if everything you are talking about is absolutely real and this is who you are. Go!
I looked at my neighbor again and overcame the voice in my head talking loudly about how this is going to be too big and too hairy set of goals: “My name is Yelena. I live in Richmond, near London, with my husband who I met while expating in Geneva. I work for myself. My business is in high demand. I coach expats and executives who work internationally, people who want to be effective, and fearless in reaching their goals. I travel all over the world as a coach, trainer and speaker. I have written 5 books on expat success and 2 have become bestsellers. I volunteer as a teacher and a coach to women in Southeast Africa every year.” Wow, that felt great!
I can continue listening to the voice in my head saying “Oh, I see! You are staying in the UK. That’s news. Married. Again? Thriving business? It is just getting started! Bestsellers… Give me a BREAK! Your first book hasn’t even gone to editing! And this volunteering thing to Tanzania you have just (!) signed up for… It’s probably once in a lifetime thing you are going to do!” Or I can stand up straight, smile, and deliver a message about who I am. 5 years from now.
If you are working on a plan to move abroad or are in the middle of your expat experience, try this exercise. It will help you crystallize your goals and answer the question about what happens after. So where do YOU want to live 5 years from now? Go!
By Yelena Parker
Founder, Moving Without Shaking Ltd
Expat and executive coaching
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