The ability to be, and remain, flexible whilst on assignment is a key factor to enhancing your overall quality of life, and enjoyment of your expat experience.
Flexibility aids success in expatriation!
International mobility is characterised by significant changes in lifestyle and working style. There are, for example, new and different values, cultures and ways of dealing with situations – including personal and professional relationships. This requires us to be flexible, adaptive, and free of rigid, absolutistic attitudes that interfere with cooperation and problem solving. In fact the ability to deal with, and at the very least, make peace with ambiguity will help you go a long way to being flexible, and avoid burn out.
Anticipating change , and the impacts you are likely to encounter in your transition and throughout your assignment, rather than simply waiting for them to happen, can significantly reduce the negative impacts of change and increase your ability to cope. At the same time, build in what I call a "flexibility buffer". You can anticipate that a process for getting your visa, or arranging a removalist will take a certain amount of time. But the reality is that there is a very good chance that it will take longer, or that there will be a problem. So build in a "flexibility buffer"...simply put, you are acknowledging that whilst you would like the process to work the way it should, there is just as much chance that it may not.
Research has found that people who do not cope well with stress fear change and tend to be inflexible and lower in problem-solving skills. Those who cope better see changes as challenges rather than threats, are highly flexible and adaptable, and are willing to try new ways of dealing with problems. For this reason, take some time to think about how you deal with stress, both in the moment (situational stress) and over the long term (how do you look after yourself and ensure you are physically and mentally able to cope with stress overall). If stress really is a challenge for you, then you should be looking to speak with a professional who can provide you with some tips and practices for coping more effectively.
What are your ideas or experiences for how to be more flexible in the way we think?