Unpacking your old self

Unpacking your old self

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Expats may have heard about the stress involved in moving to a new country, but the experience can still throw many off balance. Carole Ann Rice believes that coaching offers expats the support they need to rediscover themselves in their new identity

There can't be many life changes more awesome than relocating a job, home and country.  Taking a giant leap of courage and faith to uproot and cast your net across un-chartered waters is an adventure many are called to but few choose.

Although it may seem as if all your birthdays have come at once as you embark upon a new life in a new country, it can also seem to unfold a veritable catalogue of high tension nightmares.

In the ranks of what causes the most stress in our lives after unexpected bereavement, moving house, changing jobs and divorce are up there as life challenges guaranteed to raise the blood pressure and test our resolve.

So as a stranger in a strange land, who can you turn to when all around you is unfamiliar; when family and friends back 'home' are gleefully awaiting your good news and you've a long way to go until you feel settled and sure of your new life?

Although many international organisations have HR departments committed to helping new employees settle into their new positions with ease and comfort, monitoring well-being and ensuring a seamless relocation, some of you may seek a more personal but neutral support with whom to share your anxieties.

This is where coaching can be most powerful.  Offering confidential and unconditional support (usually via the telephone, at a convenient time), the good coach provides a listening ear or a hand to hold, instilling motivation or inspiration if you so desire.  But unlike employer, partner or family the coach has no agenda other than the client's desired goals and outcomes.

Change management – Who are you now?
Leaving behind all that is familiar some people view a relocation as a new start; a new beginning perhaps where they leave behind things they no longer want in their lives.  Traumas, bad relationships and life's disappointments seem to become a thing of the past as you pack your case and face a new future full of possibilities.

However, the past cannot be erased so easily. Although avoidance and distractions work for a while in new surroundings, what we are remains the same.

Confidence, motivation and clarity are probably the main issues that clients bring to their coaches.  These are all areas that require inwardly-driven strength and cannot be effectively achieved by outward stimulation such as a new environment and a new job.

When an individual has been subjected to a major life change, it can take time to assimilate what how the shift has affected them, and catch up with 'who' they are now 'being'.

This is a great time for reinvention.  What better time to let go of things that don't work for you?  To be the person you have always wanted to be, and to make this the proverbial first day of the rest of your life?

There is no time like the present, but what if along with your family photos and favourite CD collection you packed your insecurities, your procrastination and all those debilitating and destructive fears and habits that you were hoping to dump at passport control?

"It gets boring in paradise"

You are what you are
Back in the 1980s a techno band called the Thompson Twins retired from the pop world and spent months lolling around Caribbean islands, lying in hammocks and chilling like there was no tomorrow. Shortly afterwards, they came running back to grey and smoky old London.

"It gets boring in paradise" they cried as they returned to the familiar assault of metro life.

Funny how a palm tree, pagoda or sweeping seascape can start to become as dull and as familiar a sight as the Piccadilly line or black cab.  Back in a daily work grind it could seem to the expat that they’ve just swapped one hamster wheel for a more exotic rat race.

Wish you were here?
So what do you do if the dream doesn’t add up?  What if the shock of the new has become the same old routine wrapped in different clothing?  What if the grass wasn’t greener but just another shade of the same colour palette, the sarong just another work suit?

Working with a coach you can start to reassess your situation and in doing so discern what is real, what is a distorted belief that you may be holding on to, or just find out what it is that is making you feel so dissatisfied. 

This investment in a coach could make the different from turning pain into paradise and save you the cost of a return ticket home.

Carole Ann Rice is from Real Coaching Solutions which offers corporate and private coaching packages www.realcoachingsolutions.co.uk

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