by Sarah Novak of www.envisionlifecoaching.net
It is a well-known fact that the greatest area of dissatisfaction for accompanying spouses is with their careers. Stepping into a new country and being told that you can no longer work (due to work visas, incompatible qualifications, or lack of jobs) can take a huge toll on your happiness level and often lead to major identity issues.
My hope is that, with the 8 simple steps I’m about to show you, that you’ll walk away with a clear idea of how to re-invent your career in a way that brings you great personal success and fulfillment overseas!
Step 1: Examine the Past
When going through any kind of reinvention or strategic planning, the first thing to do is assess where you’ve been. It is only by understanding and reflecting on that past that one can develop a clear vision for the future. It is best to begin by assessing these three core areas: Prior Skill Sets, Core Values, and Past Roles. The trick is to look for intersections or alignment between the three. You see, we feel most alive when we’re spending our time on things that honor our values. Therefore, it can be inferred that our greatest happiness or fulfillment would come when we’re consciously choosing to spend our time in a way that pays tribute to the things we honor most.
Step 2: Flesh Out Your Vision
Once you’ve mined all the gold out of your past, it’s time to turn your attention to the future. The key to this part of the process is to put down as much information as you possibly can about what you’re moving toward. This is where I often get a lot of push-back from clients telling me that they can’t possibly create a vision when they don’t know what they want. To this I say, “That’s okay. Work with whatever you do know, even if all you can list are the things you DON’T WANT.” To get unstuck, it is critical that you begin moving in some direction, even if it isn’t ultimately your final path. The key here is to just start getting into action!
Step 3: Mind the Gap
The third step of the process can be a painful grounding back in reality after the joy of connecting with your vision. This is the part where you take the time to look closely at what the gap is between where you are now and the rich place you want to be. Some questions to ask yourself at this stage include: “What’s missing?” “What resources do I need right now to move toward my vision?” and “How am I sabotaging my own success and fulfillment?”
Step 4: Look for Unique New Solutions
Once you’ve identified what’s holding you back, it’s time to start brainstorming possible solutions. I always prefer to enlist help at this stage because my creativity flows better with others around. You may also be able to access unique solutions by tapping into your body or artistic spirit. Turn on music, pull out the paints and see what shows up. Begin with the belief that you are a resourceful, creative individual that CAN figure out a solution to the problem. And one more thing, give the problem some time to incubate – don’t force an answer right away. Allow yourself to sit with it for some time and you’ll be amazed to find that the answer will just reveal itself.
Step 5: Enlist Your Accountability Partner
Have you ever noticed that when you tell a whole bunch of people about your goal that you’re much more likely to stick with it? Well, that’s the basic idea behind an accountability partner. Essentially, this selected individual will hold you accountable for making the changes you want to see in your life. They are one part unconditional supporter, one part cheerleader and one part tough love. Their job is to celebrate with you on the good days and push you forward on the days you want to quit. It’s not an easy job, so think carefully when selecting who you want to be your “person”. One last thing, it’s important to design the relationship with your accountability partner up front, to educate them on your vision and be clear about what you want from them.
Step 6: Set SMART Goals
Once your partner is identified, the next step is to set your SMART goals. My guess is that you’ve heard of SMART goals before. In coaching, we like to tweak the SMART acronym a bit to put more emphasis on goals that excite you and align with your values. For our purposes, each goal you create needs to be: Specific, Measurable, Authentic, Resonant and Thrilling. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
Couple other things to remember when setting your goals: 1). Written goals have a greater chance of being accomplished, 2). Telling as many people as possible ups your commitment level, and 3).
Breaking the goal down into 6-10 smaller steps helps dramatically. Another tip that my clients find useful is to create a structure or trigger to remind you to incorporate the new habit. For example, if you are committing to writing a blog post each day for your new blog, sit down to do it every afternoon when you get your snack. That way the snack will act as a reminder that it’s time to write, and form a solid new habit!
Step 7: Embrace Trial and Error
Learning is a critical part of the reinvention process. And in order to learn, we must go through the process of trial and error. Translation: Some things are going to work and others are going to fail. Now is a great time to remind you that a failed attempt does not make you a FAILURE. There is equally valuable information in both our successes and our failures, so please view them as such and mine them for learnings. Release yourself from the mindset that there is a right and wrong choice. Just make the best choice for you in that moment given the current information and tweak your course as you go. Remember, IMPERFECT ACTION is always better than PERFECT INACTION. Don’t stay paralyzed – give yourself permission to learn!
Step 8: Celebrate
I am shocked at how many people cheat themselves out of the celebration process. In fact, I used to be one of those people, until I realized what I was depriving myself of. Instead of looking at accomplishments as something to check off, replace your instinct to say “What Next” with “Wow, look what I just did!” Revel in your achievement and celebrate what it took to make this feat possible. The learning and growth only comes from taking the time to process the experience!
About the author:
Sarah Novak, MBA, CPCC is a Certified Professional Co-active Coach and founder of Envision Life Coaching. As a Global Lifestyle Designer, Sarah helps accompanying spouses of expats and diplomats create portable careers that complement their overseas lifestyle. Sarah authors a blog titled Inspired Overseas Living that is full of resources, tools and inspiration for expats and diplomats. Connect with her online at
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