Quite often I work with expats who have a decision deadline forcing them to decide whether they should stay or go.
By the time they reach out to me, they’ve worked themselves into such an anxious place that when we start our session s/he flat out tells me that they expect to find an answer to their decision by the end of our session.
Naturally then our session has to start with me explaining that I will most certainly be disappointing them.
I can’t give guarantee a clear decision because:
a) it’s neither mine nor anyone else’s function to tell someone what they should do with their life and
b) it depends on how much self-reflection someone’s done prior to reaching out to me.
With such situations in mind, I want to explain what I mean by these two points and what role they play in decision-making with a decision deadline looming on the horizon.
1. You can’t rush or put a deadline on self-awareness
Expats that reach out to me typically struggle to see themselves and their situation clearly.
Whether it’s due to:
- negative things they believe to be true about themselves, their options and their future,
- a deep disconnect within themselves
- unhealed (complex) trauma
- having taken on other’s ideas and beliefs about what’s right and wrong,
The only thing they’re often aware of is that something doesn’t feel right which prevents them from making a decision that offers them peace of mind.
In a single session, it’s possible to identify some of the hurdles in someone’s thinking, in their perception of their situation as well as any emotionally charged situations from the past that may be making it challenging for them to make a decision that feels authentic and exciting.
But it’s not possible to understand the full picture of what may be holding someone back from knowing what’s the right next step for them (plus, identifying whether it’s actually the right next step), and it’s definitely not possible to solve whatever-it-is in a single session.
Because digging deep isn’t very sexy for most people or they think it’s unnecessary because “this is just a decision about potentially moving countries, nothing more”, many people choose to bypass any deeper self-reflection altogether and stay stuck. As a result, they may pick whatever option asks the least amount of uncomfortable self-reflection from them and then wonder why they’re not happy in their next location.
This is why I can guarantee you that I will disappoint you if you think that a single session with me will fix everything for you.
You *will* find a fresh perspective on your situation through working with me, but if you want to make a deeply satisfying decision then you need to dive deeper into your inner workings than you probably think you have to.
This may not be what some of you want to hear, I know.
This is also why I’ve created a set of self-guided tools for self-reflection so that you don’t have to worry about the *how* of deciding whether to repatriate or where in the world you should move and you can focus on the deeper questions instead.
Because for a truly satisfying decision that makes you feel at peace and excited for what’s to come, you need time and space to reflect on where you’re at now in life, what you want to be creating for yourself and how to overcome what you believe is preventing you from moving in that direction.
2. YoU may be giving away responsibility for your life
We are all on a unique path in life.
While different people can have similar experiences, what their personal experience is meant to teach them and how it’s supposed to help them grow may be quite different.
Which is why when we follow someone else’s idea of right or wrong, you’re effectively walking their path in life and not your own.
This is why you can end up feeling internally conflicted, disappointed or even angry when someone tells you what to do and it doesn’t resonate with you.
This is also why I refuse to tell anyone what they should do – stay, go, move back home.
I strongly advocate for helping you figure out who *you* are and what obstacles you need to remove so that you can move forward on *your* path.
Sometimes it can be hard to know that you’re not on your path.
Here are some signs that can indicate that you may be not living your own life:
- something doesn’t feel right so you procrastinate or delay taking action
- the suggested decision feels weird (but you can’t tell why so you go along with it anyway)
- you feel anxious all the time and you don’t feel at peace about any of the choices in front of you
- you feel worse after someone’s given you advice/expressed their strong opinions on what would be best for you
These are all examples of how we can unwittingly give away responsibility for living our lives and instead live someone else’s idea of a good life, one that doesn’t feel exciting nor inspiring to *you*.
As a clarity coach, while I may have the privilege of a bird’s eye view of the common hurdles that expats struggle with in their decision-making process, at the end of the day, I’m a stranger that doesn’t know you and no amount of talking will ever make me smarter than you on what this next chapter of your life should be about.
What I *can* do is mirror back to you what I see you being excited, hopeful and inspired about, things that you may be taking for granted or downplaying because someone, you yourself or society as a whole has made it feel forbidden or wrong.
You’d be surprised at the “a-ha!” moments that come from me simply mirroring back what I hear my clients say and how much that can do to increase their sense of self and clarity around what’s best for *them*.
But again, it’s rare that major revelations happen in a single session alone.
When it does happen, the clients have already spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on things prior to reaching out to me.
In other words, to make a decision you feel good and confident about, you do need to spend time getting to know yourself, even if there’s a decision deadline looming on the horizon. Otherwise, who’s life are you living?
3. The difference between picking what’s easiest vs intentional decision-making
I’ve written about this before – not every decision is hard to make. If you’re struggling to decide whether or where you should move, it’s quite likely that there’s more to this decision than meets the eye and that’s why you’re not making progress.
If there wasn’t more to this decision than simply picking a country, you’d come to a conclusion quite easily (without excluding the fact that change doesn’t feel easy no matter what the circumstances are).
But when it’s hard work understanding what or where would be right for you, you’ve been putting it off, you haven’t made any progress or the deadline is already tomorrow, then a single session with me is not going to fix things in an instant.
At best, you’re going to become wiser about some of the hurdles you’re experiencing and the things you’d need to reflect more on to be able to make the right decision for yourself.
So, when you’re pushed up against a wall and you want to make a decision in an hour, whatever you choose will just be a random shot in the dark.
Let me make this very clear, I’m not saying that you’d be making the wrong decision if you just pick what’s easiest right now. Neither I nor anyone else can predict the future.
Only time will tell how your decision served your interests.
What I *am* saying is that by mindfully moving through the decision-making process (that means identifying your wants and needs, reflecting on how life abroad has shaped you, what you want to be focusing on in this next chapter of your life, researching how you can make things happen, taking action etc.), you stand a much higher chance of making a decision that feels good, that feels right, and that gives you a sense of peace going into it (even though it’ll always be anyone’s guess how things are actually going to work out).
The choice is always yours, as it should be, and my job is to guide you on your “how do I know?” journey, not give you ready-made answers.
If you’re facing a decision deadline and you’d like to get a fresh perspective on your situation then learn more about my services here.
And if this blog post brought up strong feelings for you, I’d love to hear from you – let me know in the comments below.
Katherine is a retired world traveller and former serial expat of 15 years. Based on her professional and personal experience as well as PhD research, she now helps expats, travellers and location independents decide whether to stay or go, whether to move back home or where to settle down.