Making Decisions and Moving Forward

We are faced with decisions every day, some minor and other that can change everything. One day, my husband came home and asked me if we should relocate to NY for his job. This was an easy one for us; I immediately answered “yes, of course!” Previously, we had lived in New York for almost 4 years. We both had great jobs in the city, lived in Tribeca and enjoyed every minute of the city that never sleeps. We had always said, if we get the opportunity to go back, we would do it! This time it would be with our two daughters who were ages 3 and 1 at the time.  Moving to New York meant quitting my job; this was not an easy decision, however, we moved ahead excited about the opportunity to live abroad with our family. Craving control and certainty, not knowing what job would be available for me on the other side of the ocean was a mental challenge for me. I forced myself to let go. I decided to enjoy some “time off” and take the time to settle in with our family, giving the girls time to adjust to their new home with the comfort of their mom being there.

The Girls Settling into Their New Surroundings

The move went smoothly, we enjoyed a well-deserved holiday. Within three days, our furniture arrived and the girls felt at home in our new house and neighborhood instantly. The language barrier for our oldest daughter, who started pre-school pretty quickly after we arrived, was something we had anticipated, but it was heart-breaking to leave her there with strangers speaking a language she didn’t understand. Fortunately, she learned so quickly. Like everybody told us, she observed, absorbed, and after a couple of weeks she started to talk English. How amazing it is to hear your own daughters speaking (the real American) English within a few weeks, and watching them flourish within a new culture so quickly.

So, after a couple of months, the girls were settled-in. My husband got a jumpstart at his job travelling through the US to meet his new colleagues and clients. We started to build up our social lives and our house now felt like home. “Now what,” I thought. I felt so restless, impatient, insecure and even unhappy sometimes. I had to decide about what I wanted for this next phase of my career.  

Good news is that I did it and I’d like to share some tips that allowed me to make a decision and move forward. This applies to not only expats, but also to anyone exploring career re-entry while going through a life changing event.

  1. Acknowledge and embrace the chapter of life you are in
    Shifting from being a working mom to a stay-at-home mom is a huge shift (or vice versa!) Acknowledge the fact that this is not a simple matter of just switching gears. You can expect it to take a toll on you both mentally and physically. I found myself tapping into other parts of my brain and being more physically active (if you’d like to lose weight; relocate!) A “successful” day had a different meaning as a stay at home mom. Accept this shift before you create headspace to take the next step.
  1. Find head-space
    Give yourself some headspace; without this, you will never see the huge number of opportunities that are lying in front of you. The day-to-day routine, kids, home-work, school requests, holiday celebrations, etc. will keep you busy. We all know being a stay-at-home mom here in the US means longer hours of “work” and can even be more stressful than taking a full-time job. I found out that having at least two hours a week where I could do my “own thing” without my husband, kids or friends around me helped tremendously. I spent my two hours week to pick-up my yoga and meditation practice. Spend your two hours on anything that you enjoy doing on your own. Give yourself a little room to breathe. It doesn’t, and maybe even shouldn’t be related to finding the next step in your career.  
  1. Make time to explore
    You can’t explore new career opportunities if you don’t have time. You really need to find and make the time to do explore properly. Starting out in a new country and understanding the employment scene will take some time. It’s not enough to save this for the end of the night when the kids are in bed. Since I had young kids, we decided to hire a nanny for ten hours a week so I could spend that time to meet with people (informal networking,) expand my network, and explore what it was what I really wanted to do. You will find that some “coffee-meetings” are more useful than others, but this is all part of the process.
  1. Define what it is what you really want to do
    Embrace this chapter in your life as an opportunity instead of as a problem. Think about how great it is to have the opportunity to start all over in a new culture, new country, providing you with total new experience. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed; I certainly did by the sheer number ideas that came to me at some point. Based on the advice of my aunt Inez van Oord,  I tried an exercise that proved to be very helpful. I made my “negative list” – things I really didn’t like; then, I wrote the opposite word next to it (my positive list.) The next step was to create a visual of all the “ideas” that floated in my head, based on the list, my core values, things I’m passionate about, etc. Just take a piece of blank paper and start! At first it gave me some head-space, literally moving all the thinking in my head to a piece of paper. And secondly,  it gave me direction, helping me to define who I want to get in touch with what industry, what functional experts, what type of business, and where are the opportunities that would fit me.  
So, what where did my story end?  After a few months of networking and exploring, I made the decision to take an internal consulting position with a large consulting firm. As I went through this exploration process, I would have loved to have access to a resource like Vermilion Talent. I didn’t find this and this was one of the reasons that led me to again made a life-changing decision. I resigned from my new position to co-found Vermilion Talent with Anju Kurian. We experienced career re-entry ourselves, me as an expat and trailing spouse and Anju returning to the workforce after being a stay at home mom. We understand how you feel because we have been through it (and prevailed!) We offer a guided approach to career re-entry. Let us help you to connect the dots and give you the support and resources you need to feel happy, confident and successful in your career re-entry journey.

Interested in learning more on how to overcome the “overwhelm” and make decisions that you are confident about? Join us on Wednesday, October 18 for a Live Webinar with Cheryl Einhorn, an investigative journalist and author of Problem Solved, who will discuss the AREA Method, a framework to break down complex situations and make thoughtful decisions in any part of your life.

To your success,