As we move into Season 3 of The International Career Couples Podcast here are learnings from 2023's Season 2 seamlessly curated for your ease of reading!
It's fair to say that expatriation is not getting less complex any time soon. Each decision brings different challenges whether you are considering where you can afford to work (see this article from Expat.com for information on salaries and here for cost of living) or considering how to balance family commitments with personal and professional aspirations. More of us are navigating how to manage dual careers and the reasons for companies to expatriate their people remain (see here for commentary by ins-globallconsulting.com). If you did not catch the Vialtopartners.com report last year, then it is worthwhile diving in to discovery the predicted changes in how we expatriate.
There is a lot that can change, but what we can manage is how we react and how we make decisions for ourselves and those impacted by expatriation. Hopefully, these learnings from 2023 provide you with an additional resource. Remember you are not alone and there are experts out there providing free and paid resources if you need additional support.
If you have not listened in yet, there are 19 episodes of my podcast ranging from 25-45 minutes ready for you. Listen in here or wherever you listen into your podcasts.
If you are missing something, then create it!
- it is well researched that our identities our impacted when we move. We are hearing more about self-care while expatriated, so please do take time to look after yourselves. If you are missing something that makes you feel like you, then make efforts to understand what you are missing. If it does not exist where you are then can you create it or find an alternative that meets your need? It might take a bit of courage and creativity, but you will learn from it! I speak from experience as a founder member of the Houston Shooting Stars - a netball team set up in a country that did not play netball. This concept works at professionally and at home.
When you are considering a move, research how the location might help or hinder your careers
- Doing some research up front will save time and emotion once you arrive on location and do not assume you will be told! You might find that your new location offers new opportunities because of the type of childcare available or that the childcare system is so different that you have to change how you manage 'life' together. You might find out that your qualification is not accepted or that work visas are not available to you.
I cannot put it more simply, if you know, then you can plan for it. If you don't, you could be in for some frustration.
Communicate and collaborate, early and frequently
- when you share with each other what is important to you professionally and personally then you are creating a foundation of understanding. The foundation of your relationship is key to your eventual management of your careers and how you will navigate the decisions and changes that come along with expatriate life. It is not a one-off conversation, create the space, create the shared vision and come back to it as often as you need to keep connection and to keep hearing each other.
Be pragmatic, be realistic and plan for the unexpected
- This is about mindset and how you approach your expatriation. There needs to be some flexibility in your planning and an ability to be pragmatic in your decision making. This might mean mentally preparing for challenges you cannot envisage and being able to flex with new information or evolving situations.
Be curious, respect the legacy that you are going into and immerse yourself
- When you are new in the role, and in this case perhaps both of you are starting in new organisations, you need to give each other the grace of time to adjust. There will be a sensory overload as you orientate to your new home and company. In those first few months, listen, be curious, respect that you are coming into an organisation that existed before you got there rather than trying to impose your agenda. Immerse yourself by behaving as though you are there to stay rather than having an eye on 3 years down the line when you might move on again. Understand that your partner is going through a similar process and that they might need extra empathy at home.
Understand that your needs will change and stay connected to what you both need now, whilst keeping an eye on the future
- If you do not understand each other's needs and wants in your careers, there is little to no chance that you will be conveying these messages to your organisations. It is important to get the messaging right during conversations with your respective organisations. Some organisations are becoming more aware of the needs of international career couples and might ask useful questions, but you cannot assume that they will.
So, what will Season 3 hold in store for us. We have the final two episodes from Iain and me along with more personal stories and advice from experts. This podcast is for the international career couple's 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.