During my cross-cultural training with clients moving abroad, one of the most interesting segments is around managing the transition from one culture to another. My clients often say at the end of the module that the insights they gained will support them in all life transitions, not just cross-cultural ones.
Let’s face it, a transition can be fun and exciting, but it can also bring up fear, frustration, and other difficult emotions.
One day all seems fine and great, and the next feels like a downward spiral. That’s simply because there is a lot of uncertainty that comes with transitions.
And your psyche does not tend to love change. In fact, it usually resists it and turns on the alarm system until it feels comfortable in the new reality.
One of the bigger transitions I’ve gone through was leaving my career and life in Canada to accompany my husband to South-Korea for his work. I remember my therapist warning me about the difficulties associated with such a move and advising me to ensure I created a life I love because as she put it: ‘Emptiness can create depression and uncertainty can create anxiety.’ So here are 5 tips I’ve found make all the difference during times of transition.
# 1: Prepare for the transition: In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail’
In my case, I made a list of the most important elements for my family’s well-being, and I ensured I had resources lined up for a smooth adjustment. I also checked if I was going to be eligible for a work permit.
This did require some time and energy during an already busy time wrapping up our lives in one country, but it was well worth the effort. In fact, because of this preparation, I was able to start devoting time to my work much faster than most other moms.
#2: Mind the gap between expectations and reality
Soon after I arrived in South-Korea, I learned that mediation was not a recognized field in the country. All my hopes for work suddenly went crashing down.
In every transition, you will come to a place where expectations and reality collide. This stage can be draining and cause you to get discouraged.
It’s ok to feel lost temporarily, but do not let this feeling consume you. Know that possibilities are endless in life and be willing to explore and discover new options.
#3: Be patient with the adjustment process and temporary setbacks
If you ever changed jobs or moved from one country to another, you know transitions will slow you down. You need time to learn many of the basics that you had acquired and did on autopilot. This process takes time and energy. Support yourself through it.
Don’t beat yourself up for not being as fast and efficient as you used to be. Give time to time, and things will stabilize into a new normal.
I remember one coaching session where my client moved to a different division within his company. It caused him a lot of stress and anxiety. He was in fact worried about his performance in this new position because he did not have the same expertise.
Through our coaching, he was able to be more mindful of the adjustment process, and more patient with himself as he learned new ways. Eventually, he found that he had all the resources to adjust and thrive.
#4: Take time for self-care
Your nervous system is usually hard at work and hypervigilant in times of transition. That’s because it is trying to spot any potential danger in this new situation. Your need for rest and self-care is greater during these times.
Paradoxically, it is also a time where you have so much to do and learn that it can seem difficult to stop. Still, make sure you do stop and give yourself some rest.
Regular, short, mindful pauses will pay big rewards.
#5: Consciously reassess and realign
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” Wayne Dyer
Even with preparation, there are many surprises along the way and it can be exhausting and discouraging. If one way doesn’t work, don’t give up.
Here’s how I did it when my plan to work in mediation fell apart. First, I had to figure out why I wanted to work in mediation. For me, it was about supporting people in finding peace through stressful times.
Then I looked at other ways I could accomplish that goal. After looking into different possibilities, I settled on coaching.
It was a very stressful time, but I am glad I didn’t give up. Going through this phase of reassessing and realigning directed me to a career that is even more fulfilling and meaningful. I can now support people in their quest for peace and purpose in deeper and more meaningful ways.
Don’t let transitions bog you down, use them as a catalyst to create a better future for yourself. The possibilities are endless, even when we can’t see them.
Are you in a transition, or wanting to embark on a new adventure? Lookup my coaching programs to see if one of them is for you: https://empowerfromwithin.ca/en/individual-coaching/
The light in me sees the light in you.