It took me a couple of years to track down the lie I’d been telling myself that was holding me back (there are lots of them and like you, I’m a perpetual work in progress). The first year I lived in Finland was tough. Honestly, what helped me through the uncertainty loneliness was something I told myself over and over again: “You just need to give it time. It’ll get better.”
You see, my expectations for that year weren’t that everything would be awesome and I would hit the ground running. I knew there would be culture shock, that the weather and amount of light would take some getting used to (I arrived in early January) and that I’d have a very small support network compared to Canada. So actually, that first year wasn’t so bad.
What was worse though, were my second and third summers in Finland. I thought that if I gave it time, things would get better. And you know what happened? N.o.t.h.i.n.g.
I’m not saying everything was bad, but I realized that the things I expected time to fix, weren’t getting any better. I still felt like I was spending too much time alone, struggling with my Finnish and my career options felt pretty limited. That’s around when I realized time wasn’t going to fix anything. And why would it really? Don’t get me wrong: time can fix things… but than again it might not.
I realized that the surest way to make sure things got better and that I started feeling more at home was to take responsibility for making changes myself. This means looking at what’s going on very deliberately – the good, the bad, all of it – and deciding what I wanted to stay the same, and what I just couldn’t accept any longer, instead of waiting YEARS for ‘time’ to change things for me.
If I can save you a few years with some unsolicited advice, then I’m going to give this a shot: don’t wait for time to make things better. It won’t. The flip side is that you can make things better yourself, and you can start today.
If you want to do this on your own, start by asking yourself:
How do I want to feel? And once you have your answer, what can I do right now to feel ______? (Don’t underestimate the impact of these micro-decisions!)
It takes some practice but your emotions are a powerful inner compass that will lead you to where you want to go (even if you don’t know where that is exactly, yet). You have all you need to find your answer, you just need to ask the question, and listen for the answer from within. Time doesn’t have your back on this one, trust me.
If you’d like some guidance in the process, I’m hosting an intro workshop in Helsinki on Friday, Aug 26th: Introduction to create the life you crave abroad with The Desire Map, for those of you who are ready to take matters into your own hands.
Registration is open until Tuesday, Aug. 23rd at noon so you’ll want to move fast. Invite a friend along with you and split the ticket price (only 5 such tickets available)!