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Glass Half Full… of Opportunities

Reflections on life abroad

To the outside world, the life of an expat seems fabulous. But ask the expats themselves and you’ll see that it is not all “roses & champagne”. We, the expats, know how hard it is to adjust to life in another culture while being away from family and friends. Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the benefits so we don’t get lost and manage to stay present in order to take full advantage of the unique personal and professional opportunities this expat life presents.

Here I offer some thoughts on how to take a positive stand regarding some of the hard realities or as they say: “Glass-Half-Full” approach.

Coming from a business background, I will focus on some of the buzzwords we use in leadership, management and coaching. It seems to me, this approach will make it easier to see things a bit more objectively.

1. “Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone”

How often have you heard that in business, especially coaching?! It is one of those phrases that we all use, we all strive to achieve. We take small steps and we feel big difference.

Now imagine when you not simply take one step outside of your comfort zone but a whole giant leap.

You move away from your reality and enter another dimension. You have to adapt or you risk ruining the entire experience (not to mention your career and mental health). Yes, the steaks are high!

You have to learn to function in another zone – uncomfortable, strange and even sometimes irritating. That is precisely when you have to take full advantage of the situation.

Challenge your creativity, your ability to learn, grow, adapt and before you know it, you will emerge stronger, better version of yourself. It is worth it! Don’t miss that chance because you are privileged to have it.

2. “Be Open-Minded”

It is a catch phrase. We all strive to be open-minded and we are proud to say that we are. However, there are always times when we have to admit humbly: It is not enough.

The greatest example for me was when I moved to China. Honestly, I wasn’t at the level that I wish I were. This is when I realized that I have to work on it more. I had to open my mind further to understand a culture, a way of life, a way of being much different than what I was used to. It was frustrating; I have to admit passing judgment at times but at the end of the day, it is a great experience. It is precisely the moment to be open-minded, push yourself and spend conscious effort to learn and understand.

Now I can see things from a different angle and I’ll always be thankful for that opportunity to develop, learn and grow as a person.

3. “Think Outside the Box”

You must have heard that countless times. Easier said than done, right?! How do you think outside the box when you live in the box…? It may be a large box but it is your own box – your own reality.

As an expat, you get a chance to literally, move outside your box so eventually, you have to start thinking “outside the box”, in a way - you are forced to do it to survive. If you just dive into that experience, let yourself adapt and embrace a new way of thinking, you will begin to truly “think outside the box”. This is when creativity will take over and even if you return to your previous reality, you’ll never be the same. You will assume and apply your new “thinking outside the box” which will serve YOU throughout your entire life.

Now imagine the possibilities when all of this experience and newly acquired knowledge is applied to your professional life. Imagine the innovation capabilities this new-you would have. Imagine the new level of emotional connectivity you could apply to working with your colleagues from around the world.


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