Without balance, an expat risks isolation and burn-out; this topic provides some ideas for how to maintain balance in your expat situation.
Expats often feel the pressure to perform to higher standards than those around them. After all, there is an expectation that they are in this role, with everything that comes with being an expat, because they are good at what they do.
This often leads to the pressure of feeling like you have to work long hours to fit everything in and show that you are worth the investment if you are on a full mobility package. And if you are coming from a culture where early starts and regular working days are the norm, to more Latin cultures where there is a later start and later finish, the temptation is to commence at the normal ‘early' time that you are used to doing back in your home country and finish later with everyone else. And the same is true for the other way around; for those coming from a Latin oriented culture to an Anglo culture where the opposite may be true…start earlier to fit in with the Anglo organisation, and then finish later to fit in with your Latin habit.
The key is to avoid burnout. Watch for obsessiveness or over-involvement with your work. Take regular breaks, especially when you feel a compulsion to keep on working. Start and go home when your colleagues do. Keep your work in balance with the rest of your life.
Adopt a moderate approach to your dealings with colleagues and subordinates and practice the art of 'suspending judgement'. This is the ability to take a step back, assess a situation, and make a balanced decision rather than just acting (or reacting) without understanding the full context. Reasonableness and negotiation will get you a less stressful environment.
Remember also that balance isn't just about you, this extends to your partner too. They may not have the same networks and opportunity for connection with others that you do through your work; so there will be days when they will want a good piece of you when you get home from work...you may be the first person they have spoken to in the same language all day (or perhaps for days!). So look for ways to ensure your home relationships are respected as much as you respect your business relationships; create opportunities to do activities or build social networks that allow for connection and stimulation. This means ensuring you take the time, and invest energy in ensuring this part of your life remains fulfilling...and there will be tough days at the office where you will rely on your home life and relationships to provide the support and encouragement you may not feel like you are getting from work.
What are your thoughts on finding balance in a new cultural setting?