What supported your decision to live in a different country? The reasons behind such choices are countless, and yet the underlying motivation can deeply shape your experience of the country in itself.
Have you moved towards a dream or away from a nightmare?
Did you move to further your career, to meet a new culture, to learn a new language? These are examples of 'towards' motivations - ways of describing something that inspires you to take steps in the direction of a specific goal.
Did you decide to leave because the conditions of your country of origin became unbearable? The politics of your country or your family might have meant that you couldn't fully be yourself, or even worse, you were persecuted and leaving was a forced choice. These are examples of moving 'away from' motivations which focus on what you're leaving behind.
Did you leave in order to support a family member's life project or career? This is an example of how you could be motivated towards something, and yet this something is about someone else and not you directly and therefore can potentially stir up a variety of feelings. Anything ranging from a sense of a deeper bond with your other half to feeling a loss of direction in your life
The type of motivation supporting your choice to move abroad can affect your resilience in dealing with real (or perceived) barriers in the new country.
It will affect how much determination, creativity or patience you'll have to solve all those tiny (or major) obstacles that we encounter in life. Renting a private flat without being taken advantage of, opening a bank account without all those proofs of address and so on.
Once you have achieved the first positive results, your motivation can dip
Once you have achieved the first milestones of living a decent life in a new country, if you were motivated by leaving the past behind, it will be harder to maintain a positive outlook and to be open to further change.
However, 'towards' motivation tends to build and strengthen as time goes on, making you more resilient and open to change... making your journey smoother.
Whether your choice is underlined by towards-motivations or away-from-motivations, will determine how resilient you'll be in overcoming those barriers and challenges that living in a new country will inevitably throw on your path. Everyone has enough stamina to work out how to register with the doctor and overcome the barriers of renting a house, but it will be mainly those motivated towards something already existing in the new country that will find the energy to overcome one, two, three, ten, fifty barriers that building a new life will throw in their way.
For instance, those clients of mine who chose to move abroad have been overall better disposed to completely reworking their CV. Rewriting your CV and/or a Job Application in such a way to stand out in a new country and a new culture can be arduous because skills and experiences aren't valued in the same way. Anglo-Saxon culture rewards personal success stories even when projects don't thrive in a way that other cultures do less. To succeed you need to learn how to repackage your work experience. It's doable.
The question is, will it drain all your energy? Will it leave you unsure about what you are good at? It's possible.
âIt's likely to be harder for those who have left a country they wish they could go back to. Moving back or moving on again is always an option. One you donât want to take too lightly.
Making staying easier - How to motivate yourself without criticism of yourself or of your new country
I invite you to welcome the slowness of January, cultivating solitude as a practice to uncover an indestructible sense of inner refuge.
I invite you to create time in your calendar for the sound of your own thoughts to emerge over the noise we surround ourselves with. Create the space for your feelings and desires to come up to be heard, considered and validated, first of all by yourself.
Winter is a time to slow down.
Animals go into hibernation or migrate. Plants and some animals go into a state of slow or no growth, only using resources to survive the long, harsh winter months. While the natural world gently progresses into such slowness, we get dropped into it from the heights of the festive period. We fly through December from one family gathering to the next, from one party to the next, and from the excess of food and drink, we land into a blank January feeling sluggish and demotivated. The festive decorations are gone. Friends and family have left. Things are going back to normal and all you want to do is to hide under the duvet and sleep.
Beat the winter blues by cultivating solitude as a resource to be free to be you, without having to meet any expectations, demands or requests. Create an indestructible sense of inner refuge.
Calling back all your energies from external demands, pressures, expectations, entanglements.
Alone time is a time to return to you as your own best authority. It's an opportunity to recall all of the energy that usually flows out and redirect it towards you, nowhere else but you. Focus on getting to know yourself better to cultivate old passions or discover new ones.
While maintaining friendships and a strong support network is essential for your mental health and well-being, taking a break every now and again can help you appreciate those connections all the more
You'll have more energy
A recent study found that spending time alone is probably the best way to rest â whether you're an introvert or an extrovert.
How to practise solitude
Put your phone away.
Take a deep breath and put your phone away. Resist the temptation of scrolling on your phone. Checking emails, texts or social media is another way to be connected with others, their thoughts, their agenda. Also, try resisting the temptation of entertaining yourself with TV, sports, films, comedies. Clear the noise, information, entertainment. This time is just for you. Take it.
Concerned about being alone or bored?
It can feel scary or intimidating to be alone if you are not used to it. You might wonder how to fill the time without talking to anyone. Think about what you enjoyed doing when you were a kid - what would your seven-year-old self do? Play with lego? Then make a project out of lego and build a lego city. Eat cake? Try a new recipe. Climb a tree? Check out the closest climbing gym.
Plan your solitude or it won't happen
Book time alone in your calendar. Ring-fence an hour a week, a day per month, a weekend every quarter. And make a plan, make it fun and exciting. Do something you have never tried before, something that will push you beyond your comfort zone.
Learn to value solitude & tune into you
It can be hard to value solitude in an ever-connected world. Recognising that solitude is a conscious choice that requires some intentionality and planning is the first important step. A step you might have to train yourself to take regularly before it will come naturally to you. Learn to turn down the volume of the external noise that surrounds us, turn up the dial of your own voice, your own thoughts and feelings. The more often you create the space for your own voice to show up, the clearer you are going to be about what you desire more of in your life - imagine that!
What to do on your own
Try a new recipe. Get out of your routine and challenge yourself - flick through a recipe book and try something new.
Go to the cinema or watch a band on your own.
Although we might not socialise much when we go to the cinema or a gig, it's easy to get drawn into wondering what your friends are thinking about. Seeing a film or a band alone means you can focus fully on what you like or don't like and why.
Go for a walk on your own.
If you aren't an experienced hiker, start with a walk at your nearest park. Spending time alone in nature can be a great way to connect with your inner-self. Once you get a bit more familiar with the idea, you might choose to venture out on a proper hike with a map, packed lunch and waterproofs! Researchers suggest that being alone in nature can help people focus their priorities, gain a greater appreciation for relationships, and improve future goal-setting.
Go to a museum on your own.
Check out the latest exhibition and let your imagination be transported. Notice what you like most about the artwork, what it reminds you of or what would be its opposite.
Try some free-writing.
Pick up a notebook and a pen and write about any of the things you experienced alone. If you don't know where to start, just use as a prompt When I was at ...(insert activity) I noticed that I felt... Don't worry about grammar or spelling or writing beautifully - this kind of writing is for no one's eyes but yours, and it's aimed at getting further in touch with yourself.