The Resilient Expat - Tolerance for Frustration & Discomfort
The ability to create 'space' and manage those moments of frustration are critical to successful expatriation.
This is a short topic; but the message is huge!
An international mobility assignment brings with it a great deal of ambiguity, ‘not knowing', unclear goals and change. Not just for you, but for your partner and children too. In short, it can be frustrating – and that’s before your feet even hit the ground in your new country.
See the discomfort as unpleasant but tolerable - and worth the gain. Once you get going in the role you will need to adapt, struggle through language barriers and get your head around your new job. The key is to accept the realities involved with mobility because your normal way of working will be disrupted.
So how can you develop a different view of those difficult times?
Re-frame your thinking
A key to getting through these times is to see these situations as “inevitable and uncomfortable”, rather than “intolerable and unbearable”. You will be better able to take them in your stride.
Take the Long View
This is about being really clear about why you are on the expat assignment...your purpose. And here's the good news...it's never really about work. Your job and career are the vehicle to get you to another country, but if that's the only, and primary, reason for being there, then you are putting yourself in an awkward position. Imagine you're going through a bumpy period at work; struggling with the boss, the language and the project isn't going as well as everyone thought. You come home one day during this period, and your partner has had a really rough time too; watching you cope, not having a network of their own and lacking in the social and intellectual contact that they are used too...and together you look at each other say..."what on earth have we done...why are we going through all of this!!".
It is precisely at these times that if you have no bigger reason for putting yourself through this challenge other than you have a job in a different country, then you are cornered - there is no where to go. But if you can both point to a bigger reason, then you can keep your challenges in context. Whether it is travel, adventure or the desire to expose your children to the world and shape them as citizens of the world - it doesn't matter.
Having that bigger purpose, means that you can take the long view, and know that the headaches you are experiencing today are for a good, and bigger reason!
So what's your bigger picture? Besides your career, what's your big reason for being in your new country?