What Will You Do All Day?
When I ask attendees at conferences what they’ve got planned after they’ve made their moves overseas, many tell me they intend to play a lot of golf… or go deep-sea fishing every day.
While those activities can be fun… and you could do them every day, maybe, for a while… are you really going to make golf your daily occupation for the rest of your life?
I’d suggest that you probably want something more in your life once you’ve relocated to a new country.
In fact, the golfers and fishermen can be the lucky ones. At least they have some idea of what they’re going to do with themselves during this phase. Over the years, I’ve met too many people planning moves to new countries with not even golf as a driving force.
Without a reason to get up in the morning, you can find that your expat days become all about what your new life is lacking that your old one “back home” had… what’s different… and, especially, what’s more difficult.
Let yourself sit idle and chances are better than small that you could turn into a complaining drunk. I know lots of them… in popular expat spots all around the world…
Folks who wander over to the local watering hole shortly after breakfast… and then stick around through happy hour and dinner. Show up any time, any day, and you find them sitting on the same bar stool.
Sit down next to them, and they’ll launch into an uninvited diatribe about everything that’s wrong with the place where they’re living.
They’ll detail long lists of grievances, struggles, and complaints… all the reasons they’re unhappy with the life they’re living in the place where (remember) they chose to live.
Why not, I always wonder, just get up off your barstool and go somewhere else?
Finding Your Purpose
The problem is that these folks don’t have a purpose.
I’ve met my fair share of these expats over the years. Sometimes they eventually burn out and go back from whence they came.
Sometimes they vacillate between AA meetings and that bar stool.
Sometimes, though, they’re able to find purpose.
Purpose doesn’t have to be profound. It can be as simple as getting into shape, for example.
One friend gets up early every morning and goes for a swim in the ocean. No, that doesn’t fill her day completely, but it gets her out of bed.
Another friend in Panama fills his days with what he loves—surfing and landscaping. He left California because it was expensive and the water was colder than he likes.
Others have taken up art, learning the language of their new home, or volunteering.
One friend spent a month working at a refugee camp in Bangladesh where the Rohingya have fled…
Volunteering is what I’d recommend first if you don’t already have an idea of your own for how to give purpose to your new life overseas.
For me, contributing in this way to your adopted community overseas can be the best possible form of purpose. I don’t get to do it as much as I should myself but have made finding more ways to give back in the local community where my Los Islotes community is located a priority agenda this year.
With my own bar in place at Los Islotes, I don’t want to risk making one of my bar stools a permanent perch.