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10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

10 Things Expats Should Know Before Returning Home

The idea of relocating abroad is nothing new, although this is something that is becoming increasingly popular among British citizens in the modern age. An estimated 323,000 citizens emigrated during 2015, which represented the highest number on record since the height of the great recession in 2008.

10 Things that Expats need to know before returning home

An estimated 43% of these emigrants were British, many of whom had reached retirement age and wished to see out their idle years in the warmer climes of Spain and Portugal. Some emigrants are younger and may relocate for work or other reasons, however, and this demographic is more likely to return to the UK at some point in the future. As expats they will need to be prepared for a period of transition when returning to their country of birth, while also keeping the following points in mind: –

1. Returning Expats must manage their return in increments

One of the main issues with returning home is reintegrating into local customs, as this can often be as overwhelming as moving abroad in the first place. You should therefore consider your return home as another form of international relocation, as you look to manage your move in increments and gradually rediscover your sense of home.

According to Singapore based medical professional Gwen Sawchuk, the best method is to buy a property back home while still living abroad, planning regular visits and holiday’s to build familiarity and relationships within the local community.

2. Returning expats may face jealousy from friends and loved ones

When you return home, you are likely to have a myriad of tales to share with friends and loved ones. These individuals may be a little jealous of your adventures, however, especially if their lives have remained largely unchanged or uninspiring during this time. By overwhelming them with information about where you have been and the things that you have experienced, you may alienate loved ones or build feelings of resentment.

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Instead, find natural conversational openings to share your stories, doling out information slowly and respecting the feelings of those around you.

3. Returning Expats will need to manage their expectations

Occasionally, expats may return home for reasons outside of their control or due to an unexpected career development. This is the situation that faced young soccer starlet Jack Harper, after the Scottish youth player fulfilled a boyhood dream by joining Real Madrid and moving to Spain at the age of 13. Having decided that this career path was not bearing fruit, he returned to the UK and currently plies his trade in the south of England with Brighton.

The proactive nature of this decision and willingness to embrace even unwanted career developments is a lesson to all expats, who must manage their expectations when returning home. Not only will their surroundings change dramatically, but their career and work-life balance may also suffer for a transitional period of time.

4. Returning expats may need to adjust in a Transient Community

With cultural and career shifts in mind, there will be a pronounced period of adjustment when returning home as an expat. This may influence the type of region and neighborhood that you look to move into, and attempting to return to your previous home or move into a close-knit community that is resistant to new-comes may prove challenging.

Instead, consider relocating to an area that has a more transient population, where there is a higher turnover of newcomers and a more open sense of community. This will ease your transition and help you to adjust quickly to your new surroundings.

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5. Returning Expats should prepare for the fact that old friends may have moved

When planning your return, it may be of some comfort to note that you are returning to the bosom of friends, family and loved ones. Even if you do choose to relocate to your home town and previous abode, however, you will need to prepare for the fact that things may have changed considerably in your absence. Some friends may have relocated themselves, while others may have changed in terms of their personal and outlook.

This means that while some relationships cannot be restored others will need to be rebuilt, so keep this in mind when returning. As engineer and expat Don Merritt has confirmed, we must strive hard to ignore the notions that everything will stay the same back home in our absence.

6. Returning Expats must prepare for cultural and political Transitions

When we first relocate abroad, there is an innate sense of excitement and wonder. This means that we treat even irritating or uncomfortable experiences as cultural anomalies, which in turn helps us to learn and maintain a sense of balance. Such an outlook is reversed when we return home, however, as we no longer have the illusion of cultural or political differences. This means that we must prepare for cultural and political transitions, while also adjusting our outlook in order to remain positive.

Serial-expat Elliott Chen believes that this issue is even more pronounced when returning to the East from the West, thanks primarily to the huge cultural differences that exist and the stifling regulations that are placed on personal liberties in the west.

7. Returning Expats may struggle with slang and everyday communication

It may seem strange to think of communication as an issue for expats, especially as they are returning home and to the land of their native tongue. Despite this, senior content manager Matt Schiavenza struggled to understand the common slang words and phrases that entered the lexicon while he was away and found everyday conversations a struggle.

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In this respect, maintaining regular content with folks back home prior to your move may help you to familiarize yourself with new and popular slang words. You may also want to check out the Urban Dictionary online, as this will help you to identify that latest phrases to have entered the mainstream.

8. Returning Expats should have their career plans in place before moving

We have already touched on the importance of treating your return home like the process of international relocation, so it is crucial that you have the next stage of your career development mapped out before you make your move. If you fail to do this, you may find it difficult to source work or realign your business venture while also adjusting to a new environment. This is even more important if you own your own business, as you and you alone are responsible for making such a commercial transition work.

According to the-travel-franchise.com, the UK’s franchise industry alone has seen 20% over the last five years. This is creating a higher number of entrepreneurs and encouraging more people to move regularly between countries, but we must never lose sight of the importance of proactive planning and making preparations ahead of time.

9. Returning Expats should be prepared for a new kind of home sickness

Home is a malleable and fluid concept, and one that changes as we progress through life. It essentially refers to a place where we seek refuge from the pressures of work, raise our families and share intimate moments with the ones that we love. So while we miss our place of birth and homeland when we first relocate abroad, we our outlook changes as we live overseas and make a brand new home in our new surroundings.

This means that when we return as expats, we tend to develop a new kind of home-sickness where we miss the place and country that we have just left. This may manifest itself in several ways, as you seek out new friends of a specific nationality and try to integrate associated customs where possible. According to content manager Schiavenza, the best remedy is to break this spell and plan a holiday to your second home prior to your return.

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10. Returning Expats should be proactive when attending to financial matters

Returning to your homeland is an emotionally challenging experience, but it is also one that requires numerous practical steps. You may have been classed as a non-resident for taxation purposes during your absence, for example, so it is crucial that you re-register with the relevant bodies when repatriating.

This type of attention to detail is crucial, especially when it comes to financial matters. It is also important to calculate any changes that may have altered the cost of living in your home nation, along with increases in property, fuel and vehicle prices. This will help you to budget and make viable plans that make your return more manageable.

Featured photo credit: Outpost Magazine via outpostmagazine.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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