expat woman making list of goals while unpacking boxes

Life transitions can be either a wonderful opportunity to bring your goals to the forefront and take a leap into your next exciting adventure. Or, they can be a serious blow to your goal-setting intentions. Sometimes they can be both at once. I like to think that the challenge (the potential blow) fuels the opportunity (the chance to take another look at your goals).

Transition, however, can be difficult to harness for your benefit. The ambiguity of the moment can leave you feeling paralyzed. The emotional ups and downs can mean that one day you feel you’re totally on your game, knocking goals out of the park left and right. The next day? YouTube and chocolate chip cookies are looking pretty nice for the afternoon. The simple lack of having all your life organized and in one space often means your goals get sidelined for the more day-to-day tasks of expat life, like figuring out where to buy your groceries or pay your phone bill.

In my own professional life as an expat partner, I’ve seen the upheaval of transition effect my goals again and again. But, one of the most important things I’ve learned since we became expats is that having a strategy that gives you the opportunity to take your leap, even during transition, is a huge game-changer. I don’t always stay perfectly on track, but when I’m feeling stuck and unable to take the leap I know I’m ready to make – I’ve found these 5 strategies get me moving every time.

Write it down.

Your goals are so much more concrete when you see them in front of you on paper. I make a weekly list and write at the top, “Things To Do This Week.” I’ve been doing this for years (and have the notebooks to show for it!). It’s a habit I learned from my dad – a successful entrepreneur who managed projects all over the United States. Every week he had a yellow legal pad with his check boxes all lined up. I learned so much about how to manage a complicated schedule of family, personal and professional demands from watching him. Neuroscience backs this up too!

Conduct a review.

Sometimes people do this at the end of the year, but I think it’s a great idea for any time you’re feeling overwhelmed or lost. It’s easy as an expat to feel that you’re not accomplishing anything. It can be a wheel-spinning experience. I’ve definitely been feeling this since we transitioned to Belgium – two steps forward and one step back, over and over again. Yet, when I take time to reflect on what I’ve actually accomplished I feel inspired and motivated to keep moving towards my goals for our time here.

Stand up and jump around.

I’m serious. Your brain and your body are connected. If you’re sitting at your desk feeling paralyzed by the slow progress of your goals – get moving! I do this frequently when I’m feeling stuck – sometimes I pace around the room, other times I jump up and down in place, or take a a couple of deep breaths and reach my arms up high. The effects are immediate – when we move our bodies, we allow our brains to connect in new ways. When we do this, inspiration becomes more accessible. We literally unstick our brains when we unstick our body.

Take a structured, time-limited break.

One of the most important things we can do when we’re going through big life transition is to cultivate a sense of empathy and self-compassion for how ridiculously hard it can be. However, I’ve also found that (at least for me) taking too much time off can cause me to lose sight of the goals I’ve set. That’s why I recommend being not only strategic about your goals, but also strategic about how and when you step away.

Some mornings, I find it difficult to get started on the day’s tasks. I want to relax and enjoy my coffee without having to think too much about my goals and how my expat life may have temporarily derailed them. Instead of blowing the whole day, I’ll set a timer for how long I’ll allow myself to engage in distraction. This is true for longer breaks as well. The key is not that a longer break isn’t sometimes warranted, but rather implementing a specific plan for how much time you need before you regroup and jump back in.

Get help.

Work with a mastermind group, a coach or other professionals in your field or individuals who have had similar experiences. Even if you aren’t engaged in a professional activity at the moment – it can still be useful to have someone who helps you navigate what’s happening in your life right now. Find a mentor or an advisor who has been down this path before. Invest in having a person you call on when your goals seem elusive.

Moreover, I’m all about having a best friend, partner and even your mom to cheer you on. However, someone who isn’t required by mutual love to bring you soup when you’re sick, can offer a whole new perspective when it comes to keeping you on track with your goals. This person can be a sounding board, a reality-tester, a confidant and a gentle nudger to reaching your goals. Coaching in particular offers you a space that is completely unencumbered by anyone else’s agenda. You need people in your life who can open the space for your outrageous ideas, complicated musings, and boomerang emotions to land. 

What’s Your Leap?

We all take our leaps when we’re ready, when the timing feels right, when the pain of not doing it outweighs the discomfort of stepping into something new. Baby steps are pretty amazing, but when you’re really ready to make your leap, movement is key. Whether your goal is a talking to your supervisor with confidence or simply getting out of the house on time and yelling less at your kids – getting started requires the above strategies of intention and attention.

Ready to work with a coach?

Are you ready to take your leap in 2020? I’d love to help you turn your goals into reality. My Take the Leap program could be just what you’re looking for. Get in touch!

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