If you are an expatriate moving abroad this summer, chances are high that you are under great pressure and stress. You have made the decision to relocate few months ago, although it feels like years. Your partner is already working in your future country and you are the “trailing spouse” in charge of executing the relocation strategy. Now unexpected problems are suddenly on your way and you are facing many dilemmas.
Here some common questions expats have to ask themselves that can lead to really bad decisions if we are overwhelmed and under stress:
- Should I sell or rent my house while living abroad ? ( Read : http://www.expatguy.com/)
- What shall I do If the house is not sold before leaving ?
- How should I sell my car? to a car dealer or a stranger on eBay or Craig list ?
- Shall I plan the packing date before finding my new house abroad?
- What do I need to put in local storage and what must be shipped overseas ?
- Should I rent a temporary apartment in my new destination or make a house hunt a priority before moving
- What should I do about schools if my children are on waiting lists of several schools and cannot go to local school due to language barrier ?
- Should I stay one more school year where I live to get more time to plan the move ?
It is not rare that we have to make big decisions when we are under some kind of pressure such as lack of time, social pressure, too many options, not enough information, highly complex situations or emotional stress.
When we are under pressure, rushed and stressed we are not in the best situation to make rational decisions. Our emotional brain takes the control of our rational brain, and we make emotional decisions to get instant gratification and relief from the pressure. For example some people overeat or overspend when they are in such emotional state that leads to either poor decision-making or impaired impulse control.
Most of the time, pressure can’t be avoided but we can learn to switch our mind to a non-emotional and objective state to make the best decisions we can based on facts while being conscious of the emotional part of the decision process.
To get an objective mindset is really important to avoid making a bad decision we will regret for years to come. We can’t eliminate all the subjectivity of our emotions, bu we can minimize that bias and make the best decision we can with the information we have.
Here some tips on getting a quiet mind and make rational decisions:
1-Don’t panic: The worst thing that can happen is to rush decisions too early
2-Keep your options open as long as possible : Don’t plan packing before you know the size of your future home. Better to spend money on flight tickets than having to deal with costly shipment and trashing your furniture.
3-Plan for the worst-case scenario : In case things don’t work overseas have a plan to go back where you live (keep your house for example)
4-Recognize your limitations: You are not Captain America or Wonder Woman, nothing should be perfect. You have to admit that sometimes you can be an insecure person who doesn’t like to show shortage of knowledge.
5-Keep your pride and ego away You told the world you are going to live a great adventure abroad, friends said goodbye and you keep going just because you don’t want to admit you made a mistake. Better have shame than regrets
6-Be incredibly selfish:.Most trailing spouses are women who put other’s needs before their own needs: children, husband, old parents and so on. To be selfish is about taking the time to focus on your needs, listen to your emotions and to take care of yourself no matter how busy you life is. To be selfish is not being needy or egoist, it is a very healthy habit that helps create both emotional and physical well-being. You create more inner peace, joy and a natural balance.
7-Stay connected: As most expats you may have many expat friends on social networks like Facebook. Sharing your doubts, frustration and other emotions to like-minded people is a great coping strategy and helps you gain clarity about your thought process.. Don’t isolate yourself from local friends and neighbors because you are leaving, meet them until the last minute.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is intentional
- Making Big Decisions: My Approach (scottmiddleton.wordpress.com)
- Make More Rational Decisions by Using a Foreign Language [Mind Hacks] (lifehacker.com)
- Top 25 Worst Things About Being An Expat (brokerfish.com)
- Expat Jobs (expatintelligence.com)