Today is my birthday! My 43rd birthday to be exact. This blog post is being written in bits and pieces throughout the day. It seems an apt reflection of my life right now – gladly pulled into the draw of lots of things that bring me joy. Sometimes wondering if it’s a bit too much, but mostly feeling like this is the time of life for such things.
This morning I went for a walk and I was reflecting on how nice it is to always have my business anniversary (World Tree Coaching turns 6 this month!) fall in the same month as my life-on-this-Earth anniversary. And, I often forget, but the anniversary of our expat family life also falls in this month. October is the month in which we left for our first overseas assignment in the Dominican Republic. Ten years ago! How convenient! I can do all my reflecting at once!
So what lessons most stand out to me at this anniversary point – 43 years in, 10 years in and 6 years in?
More than anything I realize how much we learn all the same lessons in all the different corners of our life experience. There aren’t really “lessons for work,” “lessons for life,” and “lessons for the expat experience,” that stand-alone from each other. One of my clients recently laughed at her insight, “Why do I have to keep learning the same things over and over again?” Because we’re human. One life lesson applies to the next.
At this time of year, in the thick of all of these anniversaries at once, I spend a lot of time thinking about this. What have I learned? What’s working? What might need some changing? So today, I’m sharing with you the lessons that most stand out to me right now at this very moment of being 43 years old, 10 years in to my expat life and 6 years of expat entrepreneurship under my belt…
You don’t have to know everything before you start.
Yes! Oh my gosh, if you wait and wait and wait for just the right moment, whether it’s trying to speak a new language or starting your own business, you may never get where you want to go. At some point you have to get super comfortable with the fact that you will not know every potential outcome and just do the thing anyway. You will fail at some things and succeed at others, but you’re not gonna’ know until you jump in feet first. Stop waiting. You’ve totally got this.
Get comfortable being outside your comfort zone.
I love this short quirky video from American Buddhist monk Pema Chödrön. She talks about widening our comfort zones and getting more and more at home with the places that feel a little weird. Lots of times as expats we don’t have much of a choice to stay where things only feel comfortable. I’ve learned to tap into that as inspiration for all sorts of challenges.
If we use the boldness of our expat experience to guide us into gaining an increasing sense of comfort in our business and personal life – there is so much to be discovered. I was so scared to start World Tree Coaching. I remember the day I announced my new venture to my friends and family on Facebook, I was literally sick to my stomach and shaking. With each passing day I gained more and more ease. Now it seems silly…until the next big challenge comes along. The goal is not to never feel uneasy, scared or lost – the goal is to fully feel those things and step non-judgmentally into them to see what they offer.
Prioritize your physical, mental and spiritual health.
Get enough sleep. Take a day off when you need to. Don’t drink too much, or eat too much or watch too much TV. Or at the very least, get super conscientious about the ways in which you use those things in your life to distract you from where you want to be.
Some days I have work to do, or my kids are talking to me, and all of a sudden I realize I’m absent-mindedly scrolling through Facebook. It’s not about that never happening, but it’s about cultivating a mindful awareness of when that’s happening so you can come back home to what’s really important in your life.
Are you really busy or are you (what I like to call) “junk food busy” – filling up with things that don’t really support the person you want to be? Your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations (and how you deal with them) are all part of how you take care of your health – be aware of them so that you know when it’s time to make an adjustment.
Cultivate habits that support all aspects of your life.
Expat life, small business life…life at 43…is full of so much unpredictability. That’s why it is essential that we create portable habits that serve us and help us maintain a sense of self even when we feel completely out of our element. For me daily exercise, mindfulness practice (I’m super flexible with how I go about this) and a good book before bed are just some of the things that keep me feeling like I can find home no matter where my feet are planted.
Maintaining habits that feed our body, our heart, our mind and our spirit takes intention and attention, but the payoff is enormous. This is a lesson that really came home to me at the beginning of our expat journey on. Now it’s the one I am least likely to abandon. I make it a priority to allot time each day for the habits that sustain me no matter where we’re living or what’s happening in my personal or professional life.
It’s all about the people.
I thought about this so much today as I received birthday wishes from my friends and loved ones around the world. Taking the time to cultivate deep, powerful relationships could not be more important nor more beneficial to my life as a human being, an expat, or a business owner. Investing time in showing up as your whole self and creating relationships where you can be open and trusting and have opportunities for growth is key to finding your way in all aspects of your life.
Go all in with this. If you’re growing a globally mobile business – make contacts both virtually and out from behind your screen. If you’re new to a town – brave the anxiety of a new friendship and say yes to the coffee….better yet – instigate the coffee! And at 43 years old – My God! Find the people you can’t get enough of and love them to bits and pieces with honesty, kindness and gifs on WhatsApp.
When in doubt, let love and curiosity be your guide.
Not everything is rainbows and unicorns (Shhh…don’t tell my daughter!), but every moment has the ability to offer us insight if we approach it with curiosity and kindess. When you sense yourself giving in to cynicism and judgment, take a little break and ask, “Really? Is there another way I want to be here?” Maybe for a split second you think – “Nope! I’m totally judging this,” but then lucky you, you can see that judgment with love and curiosity and watch it move on by. Choose to hang out most of the time with your nice side and honor her with all the loving you can muster.
So – Happy Birthday me! Happy Birthday World Tree Coaching! Happy Birthday Expat Life! Wow! What a ride! Thank y’all so much for joining me for another year of this little around the world adventure.
P.S. Are you ready to make a shift or move in a new direction? My online Mantra Builder course could be just the right fit!