For many people, myself included becoming an Expat has its challenges. Of course, we share the very best bits on Facebook. But in reality, it is not as easy as you would think.
You need to navigate your new surroundings, understand the culture and work out how to get around. All without friends or family to help. Making friends as an adult is harder than when you were at school! If you are lucky enough to find friends, you best be positive, happy and interesting….at all times. No one wants to hang out with a boring homesick moaning mini with low confidence.
At least that is what I thought!
And this is where I can help. Imagine if you had a magic tool kit that could help you navigate life as an expat when times are tough. And what if this tool kit could help you not only survive being an expat but help you thrive? And what if this tool kit was personalized to you.
This magic personalised tool kit does exist! It is called the Clifton StrengthsFinder. A simple online assessment which can quickly identify your unique talents. Once armed with your talents you will know how to best face anything life throws at you. I first discovered this tool in the corporate world and it helped me more than ever when I became an Expat.
It could help you too and here is why.
The assessment will help you figure out your top five talents. When I saw my results, I was sure some talents were correct and the others I had question marks about. But when I started investigating my talents I inevitably discovered that whilst I had these talents all along I had been taking them for granted. For example, I had Activator which meant that I am great at getting things kick-started. I had never once valued this talent because, to be honest, I thought everyone was like that. Once you start to see the uniqueness of your talents you can start to love and own them. Loving your talents means loving yourself which means greater happiness on your expat posting.
As an expat, we are always making new friends and it is easier to do this when you are comfortable in your own skin. Embracing your talents means embracing who you are. If you are genuine and true to your talents others will feel comfortable around you. I have a friend with the ‘Relator’ talent which means that she doesn’t tend to enjoy small talk and initial conversations with people. But once she discovered ‘Relator’ was one of her talents she was able to focus on meeting people one to one rather than crowds which made her more comfortable.
It would be nice to think that you can be selective about friends. But as an expat sometimes the community is not that big and your friend groups are transient. You may find yourself being friends with someone you just “don’t get”. Strengthsfinder is a great tool to help you to recognize not only who you are but also that others will be totally opposite to you. For example, I have the achiever talent which means I love to work hard, ticking jobs off my list. I find it really hard to sit and make chit chat for more than an hour! But I have some friends who could literally chit chat all day long. There is no point me kidding myself that I can do this, but there is also no point me judging them for doing it either. Maybe they have the ‘communication’ talent, and that is totally ok.
Finally, how you spend your time as an Expat can be the difference between a great posting and a depressing posting. When I arrived in our most recent posting, for me it was the first time I would be a stay at home mum. Previous to this I was working full time. I needed to do something every day which gave me energy, I needed a reason to wake up. The easiest way to do this is to figure out what those talents are and find ways to use them. In my case, I have the ‘Learner’ talent. The first thing I did was to sign up for an 18-month advanced coaching course. Each and every day I was learning new things and with my ‘Achiever’ talent it meant that I was working towards a goal.
It’s time you get your magic wand. Do the Clifton Strengthsfinder today. Learn to love your talents and use them daily to be the best most energized version of you. Others will love your genuine character and gravitate towards you and you will gain a deeper appreciation of everyone’s differences.
The formula is simple. Discover and use your talents in a productive way every day. Not only will you survive being an expat but you will thrive.
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This is me...
I first got hooked on the Strengths approach when I was working as a Director of Human Resources.
Discovering my own talents using Clifton Strengths was a game-changer for me both personally and professionally.
I was able to finally figure out who I was and more importantly who I was not!
For ten years I had Chronic back pain (Lucky for you... I don't have space here for the long story of pills, injections, back braces and time spent on physio tables).
I was scheduled for major spinal surgery when someone introduced me to the TMS / mind-body approach. They suggested that I didn't need surgery and could cure myself through education and changing my thought patterns. I thought they were mad but I was desperate.
Having already been trained as a coach and a strengths practitioner it didn't take me long to figure out that my pain was in fact a learned response being caused by triggers in my life. Because I already knew my strengths it meant that I also already knew my triggers. I couldn't believe I had been sitting on my own magic strengths pill all along and didn't realize.
I now work with people around the world to share with them the TMS / Mind-Body approach and then to help them discover their natural talents. Once you know, love and use your talents, life gets a whole lot easier. (So does parenting and marriage!)
As well as being a certified strengths coach with an ICF accredited qualification, I am also a wife, a mother of two young children and a British expatriate. I have been fortunate enough to live and work in many places across the UK, US, UAE and currently Sri Lanka.
After recovering from chronic back pain and getting my life back with my kids and husband I made a promise that wherever we go in the world I would have a life in which I can use my natural talents every day to help others cure pain and live their best lives too.