Planning for the unknown
Moving abroad comes with uncertainty. Maybe it’s the company saying you might be posted overseas… but they don’t know for sure. Or maybe the uncertainty is that you will be posted overseas… but you don’t know when. Or you don’t know how long the posting will last… is there a set time or is it open-ended? Will you move on? When and where?
You’re living with uncertainty and this can evoke strong feelings of insecurity, instability and doubt.
Thankfully, there are certain skills you can develop to deal with these emotions and make life feel more secure, but to begin with it’s worth noting that we all live with uncertainty anyway because unless we have the power of prediction, we can never truly guarantee what is going to happen tomorrow or even next week.
Plan for all scenarios
As human beings, regardless of where we live in the world, we live with uncertainty on a daily basis. For most people the uncertainty is so subtle that it’s not even noticeable. For others, it becomes much more visible when it involves a move or a possible move abroad.
Suddenly life is not what it seems and you’re left unsure about many different things that only yesterday seemed so secure.
Several years ago, a friend mine moved to Australia with her husband and four kids. It was his home country and although he’d always wanted to move back to live there, she really did not want to live in Australia. It turns out she has stayed there and made a fabulous life for herself, even though the early years were very tough on her. When they originally moved there she didn’t know whether they were going for couple of years or forever, and it’s this kind of ongoing uncertainty I’m looking at here.
One way to deal with uncertainty is to prepare for your current scenario and also plan for your prospective new life. If you are potentially going to move overseas and you know which country you might go to, just prepare as much as you can with the level of information you have right now. It may transpire that you don’t need the research, but at the very least it will be a learning experience and it will help you if you do end up moving abroad in the future.
Do what you can do and don’t worry about what you can’t do, and most of all don’t let your emotions get carried away worrying about ‘what if’s’. We know that 80% of what we worry about doesn’t actually happen, so spare yourself those spiralling negative thoughts.
The reason for planning for both scenarios is because it helps you feel like you’re in control. And being in control is a Good Thing. All this planning means you can work out how you’re going to go about things and, in turn, you’ll create a level of security which will be helpful to you.
I also think it’s an opportunity for you as a couple to think over what’s important to you, what your values are and where you could improve your life if you’re starting off anew. Then, when faced with negotiating a relocation contract and package with work, you’ll know in advance what you need and want rather than reacting on the spot. For the accompanying partner it’s really important to have these kinds of discussions because it’s unlikely you’ll be in the room when the contract is being negotiated!
What does the past teach you?
The other thing to do when faced with uncertainty is to ask yourself, “What have I done in the past which is similar and I have succeeded at?”
If you don’t know how to go about doing something, then I highly recommend you ask yourself this question. It will help you access more internal resources so you can deal with whatever challenge you are facing.
Also, try to use some means of daily relaxation so you’re not building up stress. Having lived with this kind of uncertainty before and seen many people dealing with it, I know it’s easy to build up stress. It may be insidious and not obviously ‘stress’, but it is there, believe me! Stress can start with those constant niggles which are in the back of your mind, which eventually turn to anxiety, and then if undealt with, manifest as mental or physical illness.
Let’s be honest, the last thing you need when moving abroad is any illness. You’re going to need all the energy you can muster, so make sure you keep on top of your health and your mental wellbeing.
Live for the moment
I also recommend living for the moment. Yes, the complete opposite of above – you have to do it all…! If you don’t know what the future holds (and who really does?!) then make the most of the present.
It may help to acknowledge to yourself that you can’t have many answers right now, and try to let go of as many as you can until the situation is more concrete. Try to distract yourself too; living with the constant thought of a move or possible move can be all-consuming and ultimately unhealthy.
Make sure you catch up with your friends, enjoy time with your family, make sure you get out and embrace the things you love doing – wherever you are, and really make the most of life.
Are you definitely moving abroad? Where are you going? For how long? Unless you know the answers to these questions, then you’ll be faced with a period of uncertainty. Knowing how to deal with this, so it doesn’t cause you stress or make you unstable, is key.
Remember life is uncertain anyway, so do what you can to prepare for all scenarios.
Make the most of the present and know that whatever life throws at you, you’ll always have the means to deal with it.