In 2014, I left Australia to become an expat spouse in Busan, South Korea and in doing so put on the backburner a lifetime of full-time employment and a consulting business that I had spent four years establishing.
Along with the usual moving challenges of packing, unpacking, school enrolments and finding my way around a new neighbourhood, I’ve also had to deal with setting up new foreign banking and phone accounts, learning to drive on the other side of the road and communicating in another language.
Surprisingly one of my greatest challenges was finding something to do. All of a sudden I had this piggy bank of time that I could spend how I chose. I hadn’t realised how much of my identity was wrapped up in my work, and with no work to do I started to feel a bit like a boat without a rudder. Filling my day with domestic duties and social activities was one option but I didn’t want it to be my only option.
And so started my transformation.
I was liberated. Changes brought new beginnings, like closing one chapter in my life and opening another one. I had the ability to let go of things that I had been tolerating and form new approaches to life.
Change helped me grow. Every time I encountered something new or different I grew and learned new things. I discovered new insights about different aspects of my life. I learned new skills, developed my strengths and discovered some new ones.
I found new opportunities. I never knew what each change would bring and was often bumped out of my comfort zone only to discover plenty of different opportunities waiting for me. Changes brought new choices for happiness and fulfillment.
As I plan for my return to Australia in early 2017, I recognise that my time as an expat has been transformational on both a personal and professional level. I feel that I have emerged from this period with a revised personal vision, a greater entrepreneurial spirit and a number of new projects on the horizon.
In this world of global opportunities and mobile workforces, you might find yourself on the move. Just remember, change isn't easy but there are ways to cope with change that can make it feel less scary and allow you to be transformed in the process.