As mentioned in Under Construction, I hope you’ll join me as I navigate the re-entry stage in our repatriation journey. Every three months I’ll share a series of ‘snapshot’ blog posts about the particulars of building a new life from scratch, filed under the post category Re-entry Reality. I’ll look at everything from making a home, engaging socially, staying healthy, and stretching creatively, to becoming part of a community, launching new career endeavors and addressing spiritual needs and emotional well being.
* * *
In my last post (Re-entry Reality), I explained why I’m taking stock of the progress – or lack thereof – I’ve made in building a new life upon repatriation.
So just how did the first three months of re-entry go in terms of the work/professional sphere of my life?
Not entirely glacial in pace, more like molasses.
Coming off the completion and publication of The Emotionally Resilient Expat, overseeing the dismantling and pack-up of our life on Ten Hovestraat in The Hague, returning to the US to spend precious time with my parents as my father entered the end stage of cancer, reconstituting our nuclear family after being separated for periods of time during and after the move and my father’s passing, and settling into our new home, the last thing I was thinking about was work.
And I mean the Very. Last. Thing.
I was physically, emotionally and mentally drained. I didn’t write, I didn’t plan, I didn’t plot, I didn’t even think about next steps or new projects or blogging or writing.
I just went about the motions of constructing the beginnings of a new life, of rejuvenating, of healing. I didn’t worry. I wasn’t concerned. I didn’t fret about a growing ‘to do’ list.
I simply accepted that my mind would know when it was ready to handle more, and it did. About two months in, I awakened one morning and knew exactly what my next book project would be and precisely how I wanted to focus my new consulting practice.
Never mind that I’d sworn I wouldn’t write another non-fiction book after TERE. That I’d felt I’d done what I was meant to do and could move on. That I couldn’t conceive of any non-fiction subject meaningful enough to me to make me want to do it all over again. That I’d been looking forward to shifting entirely to writing fiction from this point onward.
I literally woke up one day and the way ahead was clear, including the what, the why, the how. And the consulting work I’d been thinking about for the preceding two years? It all came together in my head, with an Aha! moment of clarity.
To be sure, over the previous year or so I’d periodically think about what I wanted to do once the book was done. I had a rough idea in my mind, and had even invested in some specialized training to help get me there. But the simple plans I’d counted on, the opportunities available to me and the connections I would rely on? They disappeared – or were put on hold – in one fell swoop when we decided to repatriate.
I knew when the dust settled after moving I’d have to figure out how to adjust, how to roll with the punches and alter bits of my plans, but I hadn’t given it any thought – well, at least no conscious thought – since last spring. Until that day I awakened and knew Oh, THIS is what I’m going to do. THIS is how it’s going to be.
And then I really didn’t do much of anything about either the new book or the new career for another month.
Yep, that’s how I express gratitude to my work fairy. I pretty much continued doing nothing.
Oh, I slowly began blogging a bit more regularly again, and gave some thought to how things might proceed. I contacted my publisher, editor and layout designer and gained their buy-in on the new book, The Emotionally Resilient Global Student: Engage, Adapt and Thrive in Cross-Cultural Learning.
But I didn’t really do anything on either front. I just let it all continue to ferment in my brain, and trusted I’d know when it was time to start.
Which brings us to what’s been happening on the work front the past three months, the second quarter in this re-entry saga. I can confidently say the pace quickened from the flow of molasses to that of thickened cream.
For the book, I came up with an extremely rough draft of the table of contents, but enough to begin research requiring a fair amount of reading and note-taking. Sometimes it’s been tedious, other times energizing as when it triggers a new angle or sends me down a new trail. I’ve been compiling lists of what I need to do and who I need to reach out to, but haven’t checked off very many of the items. I’ve even done a little writing.
As for preparing to launch the start-up of my consulting business, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work required, and I’m learning more about that every single day. Suffice it to say you need to have a very detailed handle on, not only on your business vision, mission and services to be provided, but also your target market, ideal customer/client, niche and on and on and on.
Husband is also moving into his own area of consulting, so together we’ve attended a couple sessions on starting up your own business and how to develop a comprehensive business plan.
We’ve also consulted our accountant – you never want to get on the wrong side of the US Internal Revenue Service – and researched the business legal status. Every piece of information and bit of data has helped us piece together this complicated puzzle, and as in most challenging projects, it’s very much a case of ‘two steps forward, one step back’.
Just when you think you’ve nailed down something over here, something else pops up over there. The ripple effect of the most minute changes in thought, service, process, delivery or wording is incredible.
And don’t even get me started on the moving parts of and content development for a business website.
So that’s where we were when we passed the six months’ repatriated mark recently: beyond early stages but nowhere near approaching a well-oiled machine. Days spent excited about what I was doing and where it’s going, and holding my head in confusion, frustration, fear and the threat of overwhelm. Often all in equal measure.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Made a career/job change recently? How’s it going and what’s it feel like?