It’s that time of year again! 2019 is behind us and 2020 is fast approaching. For many people the beginning of January signifies a time for renewal; a time to define some new goals and start to fill those resolution buckets.
We all know how difficult it is to stick to those goals. And then in a blink of an eye January is already over! Americans living abroad are certainly no exceptions. If anything, due to the stress and ambiguity of living in a different culture, goals can be even easier to lose sight of, especially if you just made your move.
How can I keep my New Year’s Resolutions living abroad?
Already thinking about the best ways to stay ahead of your New Year’s resolutions? The good news is you can reset and create new habits and intentions any time of year. The key is to ask yourself a few questions when creating your resolutions. It’s best to analyse them first before setting yourself up for failure, after all according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals, while around 80 percent fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions
Ask yourself these questions before committing to a resolution:
- Why do you want to make the change?
- Is your goal concrete and measurable?
- What is your plan?
- Who can support you as you work toward change?
- How will you celebrate your victories?
This is where people who live abroad have an advantage. You (and your spouse/partner and children) can tap back into the reasons for why you initially chose the adventure of living aboard. Most likely those reasons will involve, having new experiences, growth as individuals and as a family, as well as having fun. Once you identify the reasons it will be much easier to not only create goals that resonate with you but also enjoy the process of carrying them out.
Which resolutions are attainable living abroad?
So here are a few ideas to get you started. But not just any ideas; living abroad- specific ideas to help you create goals and actions steps to make the most out of your international experience.
The companion goal to lose weight or get fit is often to eat better, but, here, we mean eat local. Food is a great cultural gateway and introduction to a new country – not just what people eat but how they establish mealtime rituals. It is a way that people connect and nurture each other. So you might meet a new friend along your food journey or establish a new family “tradition”.
Get More Exercise
Get out and explore your host city. If possible walk the streets and listen to the noises and language. How do people greet each other and interact? Are they casual or more formal? Expressive, like Mexicans, or reserved more like Japanese nationals? The best way to get to know a new country is to observe without judgement. Keep an open mind. This is great to do on your own or with a partner/spouse and children.
Spend More Time with Friends
In this list, it’s all about making new friends. If you are having an Intercultural Training program or Partner Support program, you will learn about building personal and professional networks to establish yourself in the new country, but, some quick tips are to get involved with your children’s school activities, volunteer at an organization you are passionate about or join some classes (cooking, wine tasting, tennis etc). The best piece of advice we’ve heard from expats was to accept every invitation you are offered! You never know where it may lead, but, for certain you will learn valuable lessons on how to integrate into your new host culture because just like food, it’s a window to the cultural norms.
Learn a Language
Even if the business language at your workplace is your native language, still make the effort to learn the local language. It will show respect to your colleagues and be an ice-breaker in social situations. You’ll be amazed at how much the locals will support and help you find your words. This is also a fun activity to do as a family; you can practice at local restaurants, shops and even at home.
Keeping up with resolutions can be intimidating when you look at the long-term goal. Think baby steps! Make tangible micro milestones and slowly work your way to the end goal so that it becomes a sustainable process. Just keep in mind that resolutions have to come from a place of self-love and wanting to better yourself (and not because you are not good enough) and you’re off to a positive start!