Posts tagged habits

Moving Countries – 3 Tools to Make Yourself Happy & Start a New Life Abroad

“The Quality Of Your Life Is Determined By The Quality Of The Questions You Ask.”

“Piiiiiiiiiiiing!”. A new notification shows up to let you know your friend has updated their country of residence. They just moved abroad, starting a new chapter and now there’s a long thread of nearly 100 comments congratulating them on their new beginning. Old friends, colleagues, people at work. Every time I saw this, I used to sigh (naively) with a hint of envy, daydreaming of how a move abroad was going to solve ALL my problems: a job which I no longer loved and felt stuck in, challenging family dynamics (not getting along with my parents), wanting to start a creative venture (but not doing anything to actually pursue this), you know the stories. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Now, as I write this me and my partner have moved 5 times in less than 3 years: 2 new countries, 5 different houses, 1 dog, 1 baby and a steep learning curve I finally own and want to share as you too might be temped to think that moving will solve all your existing problems.

First shock came on my first day alone in our brand new cozy apartment in Bratislava (I work from home so I can be practically anywhere with an internet connection). “Where is everybody?!”. After working for nearly a week hopping from one cute cafe to another I finally came home one day and realised I missed my old friends. Badly. I had the most amazing time meeting new people, chatting to interesting folks during my lunch break but there was no connection. Nothing personal. Everybody was in such a rush that you brush off some polite generalities, maybe share your coffee/ lunch then move onto something else. And then it hit me. If I wanted to make new friends I was the one that had to skip the chit chat and see what happens. And to my surprise things shifted in a matter of days. Instead of the polite generalities I would go straight to what was on my radar at that time asking things like “what makes YOU happy?! do you have children? would you like to have children someday? why/ why not?!”.

It was not easy but in such a short amount of time I made friends with some incredible people I am still in touch with even to this day inspite of the geography that’s between us. My vulnerability is what gave me the most rich and authentic connections, something to which I also owe my overall wellbeing even nowadays in a new country, pregnant at that time (our 3rd house move), with a baby on the way while being away from my family of origin.

What also helped immensely during these times of transition was sticking to an ongoing exercise routine and setting (and tracking!) regular small, achievable health/ fitness goals to keep me grounded (and sane, most of the times!). Exercise of any kind gives you endorphins and changes your mood instantly so why not make the most of it, right? Again, this derived from asking myself the same questions “what makes me happy?! how do I know I am having a great?! what needs to happen during the day so I will feel accomplished at the end of it?!”. Once I had the answers, setting these tiny goals and then upgrading them on a regular basis was easy. I know even to this day that for me it takes at least 8-10k active steps/ day to have a great day. Ideally. This can be either walking, running, dog walking, mindful walking, a gym/ home workout that takes roughly 45 mins. Or 15 minutes spent in complete silence. This later one came after our baby was born and I truly got to appreciate a quiet space.

Now, you can’t really solve of a challenge (I’m calling it “challenge” on purpose) from the same level of consciousness you have created it. See, me complaining all the time of how I felt stuck in a job I had outgrown was not going to do it. I mean if it did I’d probably should’ve seen some results after my nearly 2 years of whining and complaining to everyone who would listen. I loved the benefits that came with the job (flexibility, a global environment, new and interesting people, lots of change) but it just didn’t do it for me anymore. It lacked depth and most importantly, it lacked connection and authenticity. I could only bring just a tiny part of myself to it and at times I felt like dying on the inside as I could only brush off some of my favourite topics in a corporate environment such as change, transitions in one’s life or the “quarter-life crisis” (more on that on a separate topic). I would see a spark in people’s eyes whenever I allowed the conversation to stir just a tad further during my workshops and then I would soak in the debriefs discussing what people were taking away from our interaction. And then one day I came across Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art” and this is how this space was born.

I started writing as a way of bringing some structure to my ENFP buzzing mind. I wrote a gratitude journal EVERY single day for the first 3 months of our first move abroad. Then, as I watched my inner monologue shifting I spent less time complaining about my job and more time focusing on the things that truly sparked joy. Such as writing. In my authentic voice. Sharing all parts of myself and not being afraid to own my vulnerability. For a while I wrote everything and anything. Thoughts. Demons. Dreams. Ideas. Plans. To-do list. I found the website 750words and I committed to a daily challenge to write (you guessed) 750 words/ day for an entire month. And then another one, and another one.

And what writing did for me, apart from the therapeutical-like aspect of allowing me to vent was to get a bird’s-eye view on where I was, where I was heading to and which way to take next. Because I had been searching long and hard for an answer from everyone around me except from me.

Because at the end of the day the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of the questions we ask. Now, I would be happy to hear from you and what might be holding you back to make a move be it a literal one like moving abroad, start a new project, start a family, take up a commitment. Drop me a line in the comments and if you found this useful share it with your friends (you know who they are) those still on the fence going back and forth whether they should do it or not. And who knows what might come up with just one single click? 🙂

Sending you love & good vibes from a dull and cloudy London,

xox

Ileana.

Photo by Andrew Butler on Unsplash