Once you’ve settled in your new country and have finished organising your basic needs, such as housing, administration, health insurance, finances and where to socialise, you can start to create other aspects of your new life, as if starting to paint whatever you want to create on a beautifully empty blank canvas.
Big shifts in life, such as moving countries, can offer the opportunity to let go of the past and start all over. When many old structures from the past have disappeared, a space opens up in which you have time and energy to wonder what it is that you would want to do, be or have in this next chapter of your life.
This is the time where you can ask yourself questions such as: what are the things in my life that would make me happy? What are the things that I would want to focus on? What things spark joy?
Maybe you want to focus on your health, find love, or build a stronger connection with loved ones. Maybe you long to be more playful, more creative, start crafting or write a book.
Another possibility is to focus on letting go of things that were holding you back in the past, such as resentment, anger, shame, blame or any trauma that is still causing pain. Whatever your new focus, it’s your canvas, so you get to choose.
During the (online) Coffee & Conversation events that we organise, I meet many individuals and couples who have packed up their bags and started a whole new life abroad.
We talk about finding your purpose, about what it takes to make this chapter in life meaningful and fulfilling. We also talk about how to prevent boredom, loneliness or isolation.
More often than not, we discover how tight the connection is between purpose and doing things that contribute to a better world.
We talk about what it is that helps you feel good. Because we believe that when you feel good in your skin, your presence is simply a contribution to those around you.
And it makes sense to find a new purpose, as people who start a new chapter are more open to new possibilities. They are open to things they might not have thought possible for them in the past but can now see the possibility of it happening in the future. This is very exciting!
Dear reader, if you are curious to start thinking about what would become possible for you if you would have a blank canvas to play with, read on what kind of strategies work.
When you start the journey of creating your new chapter, start with a vision of how you would want this new chapter to look like. Think about the first 10 years. Choose a focus that speaks to you, whether it is being healthy, finding love or building a stronger connection with loved ones. It can also be something like allowing more playfulness and creativity in your life.
Or you can choose personal development and finally let go of any negativity that is not serving you, such as resentment, anger, shame, blame or trauma from the past.
Write it down: What is the vision I want to hold for myself? First, write down your top 3, then choose the one that appeals most.
Create a path
Write down all the things you need to do to get there. This can either be a step-by-step plan or a clear vision of the end goal as well as the first step in mind – or both! However you approach this, simply give yourself space to figure out your first steps.
Focus on helpful beliefs
On this topic, identify and question any limiting beliefs about what is and isn’t possible for you. Observe your thoughts and note what they are: helpful or not helpful, do they limit you in your possibilities or do they support you?
Make a list of your beliefs and put them in different columns: ‘Helpful’ and ‘Not helpful’. Simply observing your thoughts makes them less important. At a certain point, you no longer identify with whatever you’re thinking. You might just notice that a thought is not helping you and then decide to not give it too much attention.
Tap into your creativity
Remember what you liked doing when you were a kid. What feelings and values were hidden in the wishes and needs that you had when you were young? Write them down or make a drawing using different colours. Then make yourself the promise to fulfil those needs as you walk further on the path of creation.
Be a believer
Why not embrace the following truth about yourself and shower yourself with positive thinking? “I choose to savor more; fix less. Laugh more; cry less. Anticipate positively more; anticipate negatively less. Nothing is more important than me feeling good. I’ll just practice this and watch what happens. I know that my life is happening now, not tomorrow and certainly not yesterday.
All the resources I will ever want or need are at my fingertips. All I have to do is identify what I want for myself and the world, and then practice what it will feel like when it happens. There is nothing I cannot be, or do, or have. There is nothing holding me back, other than my own contradictory thought. Life is supposed to be fun – it is supposed to feel good! And I’m using this chapter of my life to figure out how to create and manifest exactly what I’m longing for.”
Surround yourself with likeminded people
Find your tribe. One of the greatest achievements and an absolute factor that contributes to your wellbeing is having likeminded people surrounding you.
What is your contribution?
Having built this foundation, you’re confident enough to let go of anything that holds you back to reinvent yourself and to step out into the world and start thinking of how you can contribute to the world in a way that is fulfilling and fun.
Now connect the last dots: how does the focus you chose to develop and manifest help make the world a better place?
The Expat Centre Portugal helps internationals prepare themselves for the move to their new home and to build a steady network once you’ve arrived. We make sure you feel welcome, safe and supported for this exciting new chapter in your life.
Ria van Doorn is a life coach for internationals living abroad and founder of the Expat Centre Portugal.