Whether you have been on assignment for two months or two years, when was the last time you took time out to reflect on how things are going, personally and professionally? This is a unique opportunity and one that is often time-limited.
Are you getting from your expatriate experience what you had hoped for? Are you clear about what you want to gain from it, or perhaps your objectives need a refresh?
Get some pen and paper, take a moment and take stock. Here are a few questions to get you thinking….
- What have been the major successes or high points of your expat assignment so far?
- What’s going well? What’s not? What’s missing?
- Out of 10 (10 being the best), how would you rate your international assignment at this time? What would enable you to increase your number? If it’s a 10, what has helped you to achieve that?
- If you are on assignment with a spouse/partner, do you know what their number would be..?
This is a gentle reminder to talk to your partner about how they are doing and how you are doing as a couple. It may sound obvious, but is something easily forgotten! Expatriate assignments are often accompanied by change and greater stress. As we discuss in expat assignment training, you and your partner may now need different support from each other – do not assume that it will be the same as before. You also need to check in with each other more often than you would at ‘home’. What does your relationship need right now?
- Where are you still stuck in your comfort zone? What are you avoiding or not doing that you know would benefit you..?
- If you were told you had to leave the country tomorrow, what would you regret the most?
- Thinking ahead to the conclusion of your assignment or next professional move, what do you need to do to put yourself in a strong position or to move that plan forwards?
- What advice would your boss or a trusted colleague or mentor give you right now?
- What advice would you give yourself…?
Don’t skip over this one! The greatest wisdom is within us… You have the answer, so take a moment to ask yourself and listen.
- What one thing would most improve your expatriate experience or is a priority for you, both at work and personally? What’s the next specific step you are going to take to action these? When? And how can you help yourself to remember?
Life gets busy, often even more so as an expatriate. Taking time out to develop a vision for your international assignment helps you to get the most from it before it’s all over. Working with an expatriate coach in person or by Skype, even once every 3 or 4 months, is another strategy to keep you on track – it holds you accountable to someone and ensures that you set the time aside to reflect, learn and identify any key actions.