Career in Your Suitcase
A practical guide to creating meaningful work... anywhere

For the Journey

This is a preview to the chapter For the Journey from the book Career in Your Suitcase by Jo Parfitt.
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Change


Change is a constant element of life. To think otherwise is to invite disillusionment. Kids grow and change constantly. In adults the process slows down, but it continues. The stability the workforce had a few years ago is no longer the reality for most. Finding work-life balance is often elusive when responding to and initiating change. And stress accompanies change.

Two kinds of change

There are two kinds of change: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary change is something you have actively chosen, such as accepting a promotion, starting your own business or relocating to another country. Involuntary change is caused by events beyond your control. Being laid off or experiencing the death of a loved one are examples of change that happens to you. They are not mutually exclusive and how you perceive an event influences whether or not you categorize it as voluntary or involuntary.

When I (Colleen) moved to the Netherlands I did so of my own free will. Some of the consequences of this move I didn’t actively, knowingly, choose. For example, retaking my driving theory and practical exams in order to have a driver’s license was not an active choice on my part. I perceived them to be involuntary changes resulting from the change I voluntarily made. However, I could still take action to deal with them effectively.

Relocation and change

Relocation creates change on at least three levels according to Galen Tinder of REA:

Physical relocation: Logistical details of selling or renting a house, securing housing in the new location, packing and transporting family goods and the endless but necessary tasks of ‘settling in’

Family relocation: The entire family needs to adjust to everything being different in the new location. Nearly every aspect of common family life changes - daily routines, schools, service providers, and friendships. Children will need various kinds of extra attention according to their age and the move itself

Social and emotional relocation: It is a time of saying goodbye to friends and to familiar and beloved places — a time, in other words, of loss

People who have moved within and across borders agree foreign relocations make the heaviest demands on a person’s emotional resources due in large part to the language and cultural changes experienced.

‘In a country like Egypt you need to have unlimited reserves of patience, as things simply don’t happen overnight or in the way you expect. Whatever your time-line is, it’ll be best to double it! It’s also crucial to have someone who has the ability to speak the language, preferably a local, as misunderstandings are inevitable if you do business in English only.’

Diane, Canadian in England, www.expatwomen.com

‘It is a not to be missed opportunity. Come with an open mind and not your predisposed concepts of the world. This way you will leave with a box of ideas. It is a time for you to discover your ability to add value to your environment and those around you.’
Ogbah Sokoh, Nigeria

Change and transition

William Bridges, an organisational psychologist who has studied and written on how people react to change, differentiates between change and transition. Change consists of external events, while transition is the set of internal processes we go through in adjusting to change.

THE TRANSITION PROCESS

Bridges observes that most people react to change by making an inner transition of three distinct stages — Endings, a Neutral Zone and New Beginnings. In other words, a transition starts with an ending and ends with a new beginning. People achieve successful transitions when they adjust to change through the healthy navigation of each of these three transition stages. When we fail to accomplish the essential tasks of each stage, we can get stuck in an incomplete and unsatisfying transition characterised by prolonged stress and maladjustment.

Broadly speaking, Endings consist of saying goodbye and leaving. The Neutral Zone is a way station between departing from one place and arriving at another. This is where we pause to gather our energy and inner resources for stage three. New Beginnings signal the stage of investing energy in our new world.

Here are several of the most common ‘sticking’ points in this three stage process as described by Galen Tinder of REA.

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