(Published in SharpHeels: http://sharpheels.com/2016/03/following-a-traveling-spouse/ )
It’s the constant bane in the existence of many professional women: those who have a husband whose job keeps him constantly moving around the world, and therefore find themselves weathering the subsequent storms in their own lives. But still, they pack their bags and follow him on his inevitable odyssey. It’s always a tough call to make, but can often be result of rewarding experiences.
Case in point: I had to make a sacrifice when my husband and I first moved from India to Germany. I was lucky enough to be given a work-from-home position by my company along with my move, but somewhere down the line, the spark burnt out. I liked my work, but the hunger to get back to the “9 to 5” office life was overpowering, and eventually led to the demise of my stay-at-home routine.
After that, however, owing to a lack of business-fluent knowledge of the German language, my job-hunting efforts were in vain – so I decided to take the year off for some “me-time,” and figure out what it was I really wanted to do.
And then one day I started a blog. The urge to write had been gnawing at me for years, but each time it had been shelved in the deep abyss of my mind, and forgotten. Now suddenly, with all this time on my hands, the urge was back, and I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
I haven’t looked back since. I have now published many articles under my name in various news publications, and the blog is growing. A newly-born appetite for my work has also surfaced, and I am ready to take the bull by the horns, and launch myself back into a professional life that can also supplement my writing.
Sometimes we need to take a step back to take two steps forward. Here are a few things I think every woman in my position, who accompanies her husband around the world, can do to maintain a thriving work-life balance without losing her own identity:
Discover and Build your Personal Brand
The move to a new place can stir up new-found inspiration and zest for taking risks and taking time for yourself. Use these moments to sit back and think about life, and what you want from it:
- As yourself what is it that really interests you, and that you see yourself born to do? Even if it is something you have never done before, start NOW.
- Market yourself unabashedly to let the world know you are worth more than they thought, that you have skills they never saw coming. Work done from the heart and not just the mind brings assured results.
Take a Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you have had that same job for the many years, you may not even let yourself think that you are capable of doing anything else. Break that stalemate mindset. Think of hobbies, interests and vocations that you may never have had time for in the past. Give them a go, and sift through the ones that really excite you. Remember that you will never know til you actually start – so take a few risks. The returns are sure to surprise you!
Maintain a Record of Your Achievements
My blog has become a sort of resume of my written works, and I take the time to update every time an article of mine gets published. I don’t just do this for future work opportunities or freelance assignments — though it certainly helps to that end. But I also do this to remind myself of what I am capable, every time my confidence in my writing begins to waver. Maintaining a record of your achievements, big or small, induces an incredible boost of confidence that many of us lack, and helps to keep us from second-guessing our capabilities.
Invest in Fitness and Exercise
Yoga changed my life in more ways than just toning up my body. It opened my mind to the idea of doing more, wanting to be more and breaking the barriers I had sub-consciously built around myself, which had made me risk-averse. Regular exercise — be it hitting the gym, yoga, boxing, Pilates or even just a run in the park — gives us a much-needed release of body and mind, and opens up locked horizons of thinking and doing.
Mingle with Other Cultures
Virtually every major city in the world today has expat-friendly groups that can advise and guide you about adjusting to the new place in the best way possible. One can meet like-minded men and women from around the world who share their experiences and can help us to make our transition a smooth and efficient one. sometimes its a great way of networking and discovering job opportunities too. And more often than not, we gain some of our closest friends through these organisations that go on to become friends for life. It is important to make the effort to be social and interact with people from other cultures and backgrounds.
The most important step is to never give up! Stay positive, and make patience your best friend. You’ll find that there’s nothing stopping you from conquering the world!