It is not a secret, It is very hard for expatriates, especially successful ones, to go back “home”. I already described the emotional phases and grieving process most expat families experience when they return to their home country: Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle
Here 10 tips on how to make your transition process as smooth as possible for you , your spouse and your children:
1. Reinforce that family core beliefs, values and principles are not built on geographic location and will be the same even if you your family members feel they became different persons after their experience abroad.
2. Don’t deny the pain of leaving and acknowledge emotions, understand that your spouse or your children might not have the same feelings than you about the move: they left friends behind, unfinished business, a mix of excitement and sadness, loss of routines and support systems, loss of self-esteem. Communicate often and give time to mourn.
3. Once back “home”, avoid speaking about your overseas experience : nobody cares and you can even get hostile responses to what is perceived as “showing off” and bragging. This is true for adults and children when they meet with extended family members, people at work and other kids at school.
4. Meet other ex-expats families not only for you and your spouse but often third culture kids need to meet other children who share same expat experience regardless in which countries they lived.
5. Expatriation changed the way you think and behave, expect others to have changed too. Be open-minded and curious about their experiences.
6. Recognize that you need new routines and a new support network.
7. Balance family time, work time and respect individual needs. Each family member copes with transition at their own pace and need some space and time alone too.
8. Make an effort to reconnect with people in your organisation. You may have extended your international professional network while living abroad but try to meet more people locally, ask questions, look for people who share same interests. Network as if it would be a new country, especially if you have been expatriated for a long time.
9. Recognize that your interests and professional career changed and will not necessarily evolve in the direction you thought before the expatriation. Find a good mentor or an executive coach to help you redefine your new career vision and goals and a solid action plan to reach your objectives. With a coach it is much easier to get motivated, keep looking forward, move on, be accountable and open your vision to new possibilities.
10. Focus more on the present, accept your new role, enjoy the positive of your new situation. Stop longing for the past.