Ideally a fulfilling life would be everyone’s goal but I guess some of us get distracted and lose our way. The good news for expat partners is that they get an opportunity to reevaluate their lives and press ‘reset’.
No universal formula
Of course, there is no universal formula or template for a fulfilling life in another country. The partners we support all come from a diverse range of cultural and professional backgrounds. They also move to a diverse range of cities all around the world. What a lawyer from Singapore ends up doing in Ulaanbaatar most probably won’t be what a Spanish engineer in Frankfurt chooses to pursue. Every individual has to come to terms with who they are, where they are, and find the right path for themselves.
Overrating paid employment
Readers of our HR newsletter will know we are a loyal supporter of Permits Foundation, which seeks to enable dual-careers around the world. But we also believe many employers overrate the importance of partners being able (or unable) to secure a paid job. Based on our surveys we know that 30% finds fulfilment in ‘old fashioned’ paid employment. Not being able to receive a work permit is only one of many reasons why 70% opts for an alternative. That’s why we advocate a support programme with a broad scope, allowing partners to find a best fit solution for their circumstances.
Set their own goals
Through our work we have empowered partners to define their own goals as well as decide what ‘being successful’ means. Besides the 30% who receive a monthly paycheck our community is made up of members who have successfully found fulfilment in myriad ways: Part-time volunteering roles. Entrepreneurial ventures. Online studies. Leisure pursuits (sport, arts, craft, blogging). Spending more time with their family. Some of our members have also found paid employment and had the courage to decide that’s not what they want to do. They’re now unemployed but extremely fulfilled, having successfully established how they want to live as expat partners.
Help is at hand
Having to identify what it is that one wants to do (and what is possible) can be disconcerting for expat partners. In that situation, people can lose confidence and suffer from anxiety. They can feel guilt, too, as they don’t want to spoil a career opportunity for their partner. If so, our consultants and coaches are one email away. We have worked with many, many expat partners to successfully turn a negative mindset around and save an assignment. Ultimately, what they do day-to-day is irrelevant. It’s how they feel that’s important. If they feel fulfilled and positive about their expat life then they have succeeded.