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2022 International Career Couple Podcast Learnings

In my last blog, I spoke about the learnings from the 2022 podcast series. Here they are summarised again for ease of use and reading. All of these learnings come from guests who are experts in the field and almost always, real life expats!

Create a shared vision

- creating a shared vision is important – understanding and discussing your dreams and ambitions helps to meld the two together so you can work from a shared vision.

  • Really stop and ask yourself now, what do I want from this expatriation and what do I want from my career? Do I know what my partners wants and have we discussed how we can make it work?

Understand your individual and shared values to underpin decision making

- understanding your own and your shared values enables decision making for the whole couple/family unit and can help with consistency in planning and decision making regardless of the culture and circumstances around you.

  • there are lots of free values exercises available online. Knowing your values and sharing these with you partner can be really useful. They do not need to be the same. But it will help you understand what is important for you from a career and life perspective. You can consider what your values are for your partnership and/or family and rely on this when decisions present themselves.

Understand who your stakeholders are and advocate for yourselves

- working out what you want individually and then advocating this within and out with your partnership is vital. After all, how can people know what you want if you do not know and if you do not tell them?

  • Ideally, employers play their part in managing careers and hearing your needs as an expat couple. Some employers may be very structured in their approach and for others career management will be more informal. Often employers will consider their employee and might not have the resources to consider the family situation. It is important to try to understand how it works and who the decision makers are then keep the dialogue open with them to gain their advice and support.

Work on your mindset – are you ‘trailing’ or ‘side by side’, are you compromising or are you collaborating?

- reframing your perspective gives a new outlook – thinking about yourselves as 'side by side' rather than one 'trailing' or 'accompanying' the other immediately invites a different conversation. Think about how you collaborate with each other rather than compromising both of your careers. Regardless of how you work together, it is better to move forward in agreement and understanding.

  • Useful mindsets are to be willing to make sacrifices, to respect each other’s careers, to seek out opportunities and embracing risk.

Take chances, create your own luck, and trust the process

- luck (and timing) has its part to play when managing two careers and you can think about how to create our own luck.

  • When creating your own luck, know what you can control, what you can influence and be aware of your blind spots / the unknown.

Play with timelines

- play with timelines – rather than deciding for the immediate and 2/3-year future. What about after this assignment and the next? What decisions could be taken now that move you towards your ultimate shared vision? What do you want for your Third Age?

  • It is also useful to remember that life evolves and circumstances change - you do not always have to transition together for it to work out in the end. Being stuck in ‘all or nothing’ thinking is less helpful than maintaining an open, flexible approach.

Make time for key discussions

- taking time to ‘engineer’ it is time well spent. Make time for meaningful conversations and try to understand when you have your most useful conversations.

  • Top Relationship Coach, Wiebke Anton advises in these conversations to slow down, stop second guessing each other, talk early rather than waiting until you must decide, consider your partner as an ally and be wary of key behaviours that can negatively impact your conversations: Content, Criticism, ​Stonewalling and Defensiveness

I'm excited to discover the learnings from the 2023 series of podcasts. We have guests including financial experts, 'lock-down' expats and more stories from international career couples who are finding a way to make it work. This podcast is for the international career couples community. What other topics would you like to hear about? Get in touch via the website or via my social media channels to let me know.

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