8 personal lessons about change that can shift your mindset

I spent 50% of my life living far from home.

In hindsight, I learned a few things about mindset and behaviors that can be valuable for everyone who is dealing with change:

1) Become an anthropologist

There’s no booklet or guideline for fitting into a new culture. Too many people move around countries without spending enough time understanding the culture of the new country and the company they work for.

2) Don’t take things for granted

The biggest mistake you can make is to assume what people think or mean when you deal with them. This is a universal law, but it’s more important when you deal with different cultures and languages. Stop assuming. Start asking for clarification.

3) Invest in your communication skills

It’s not just about the language. It’s the gestures, tone, ways of talking, pausing, listening, asking. When you live and work abroad, you’ll experience more misunderstandings. Invest more time and effort in mastering your communication.

4) Fit-in is an expectation

You should spend time learning the culture but people around you don’t wait as long. Especially at work. They expect you to fit in immediately. They don’t see the hard work that you do behind the scenes to adapt your way to the new context.

5) Adapt but don’t trade your values

Adapting is important but stay true to your core values and virtuous behaviors because it’s easy to get off track by following someone else’s path. Don’t change to please others to feel more included. Change only if this is necessary for your personal growth.

6) Don’t ‘bring your own country’

Many expats rebuild their own country in a new country. If you see how they behave or go to their houses, it’s like they never left. It’s the “little China, Italy, etc.” syndrome. You’ll always miss home but you’ll never fit in by rebuilding your past.

7) Never forget your origins

You’ll make new friends, expand your network, and learn a bunch of new things but never forget your past, your friends, or your country. Your past formed your thinking and created your identity. Forgetting your origins is just a way to hide your true self.

8) Be prepared to feel lonely

You can get lonely when you live abroad. Every time you move, you need to start from scratch. New friends, new colleagues, new neighbors. And the older you get, the harder it becomes. Commit to building your social life as soon as you start a new journey.

In summary, living abroad has been a gift to me, but the lessons above are very useful for anyone who is managing a change or a transition in his/her career.

Changing the place to work sometimes is as hard as changing the place to work.

I hope these observations can help you move forward more powerfully.

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