5 Tips for Entrepreneurs Moving Abroad

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These days, more and more people are making their living as self-employed entrepreneurs, which means, in large part, that they are location independent and are thus ideally positioned to travel the world, see new places, and set their own schedules and routines while still earning a living.

Of course, an interesting parallel dynamic is that more and more people are now moving around the world, in general, as a result of major advances in both communications and transportation technologies in the last 50 years or so.

Put the two together, and you’ll find that many professional entrepreneurs will spend at least some time living abroad during their lives, whether that means Australians moving to America, or Brits moving to Thailand.

The thing is, moving to a new country is a pretty intense experience, and can be quite difficult in a number of ways. Moving to a new country as an entrepreneur, where you really are relying solely on yourself and your own ability to keep things moving forward, and where you lack the social network of a conventional office job, only adds to that complexity.

If you are an entrepreneur and are planning to move abroad — whether for an extended period of time, or only for a relatively short, predetermined duration — it’s a good idea to plan out a few ways of keeping yourself balanced, centered, and positive during the transition.

So, here are a few tips.

Be disciplined, and reintroduce structure to your day as soon as you
possibly can

Moving to a new home, never mind a new country, entails a certain degree of chaos. The
environment that you were previously familiar with (both in terms of your living space itself, and the wider social setting) is radically different, and your entire pace of life may be completely disrupted for a significant duration of time.

For those who are moving overseas and are re-entering the world of conventional work as soon as they arrive – in other words, getting up at a certain time each day, and going to an office building or physical site where interactions will occur with co-workers – a large part of this chaos is mitigated more or less automatically.

For an entrepreneur, however, there is very little if anything to add structure back into your day once you’ve arrived at your destination, and your entire life can suffer quite dramatically as a result. Certainly, your professional life is unlikely to thrive when you are faced with a highly disrupted routine.

Perhaps the first and most important thing you should do once you’ve moved into a new home is to do whatever it takes to re-impose discipline on yourself and reintroduce structure to your daily routine, as soon as possible.

This can take various different forms and can include many different components. A good place to start is simply waking up at the same time each day, regardless of all other factors.

Setting a clear starting time for your day’s work, as well as a clear “clocking off” time can also work wonders. The key is that you start reclaiming control of your life, by reclaiming your use of time, and the way in which you structure your day. Don’t let the chaos of the move drag on indefinitely and run your schedule for you – because if you let that happen, it could be weeks, months, or even years before you come back to a productive point of balance.

Force yourself to get out and explore the new environment, rather
than withdrawing

Some people are naturally extroverted and outgoing, and see moving to another country as a tremendous opportunity to get to meet new people, and engage in new and varied social interactions.
There’s a significant subset of entrepreneurs who fit into this category – namely the “Digital Nomad” crowd, who specifically embrace an entrepreneurial lifestyle so that they can wake up in a new location every day, and fill their lives with as much adventure and uncertainty as possible.

Unfortunately, however, there are also entrepreneurs who are naturally more withdrawn or introspective, and who may have moved to a new location for some reason other than the desire for adventure, or who may really enjoy the idea of the adventure that comes with living in a new place, but find it difficult to manage in practice.

Humans are creatures of habit, and we all tend to follow the path of least resistance quite easily. If you find that you are feeling a bit overwhelmed, disheartened, or intimidated, after having completed your move, you should be higher on guard against the desire to seclude yourself from the world.

When you’re in a new setting, don’t know anyone there, and aren’t particularly engaged with the local society or environment, it can be tempting to minimize outings altogether. Instead, you may opt to focus on spending as much time as possible secluding yourself in your apartment or house, getting your head down, and just doing your work or catching up on your web surfing.

Ultimately, however, you’re never going to feel comfortable or more at ease in a new environment until and unless you force yourself to get out there, explore, and find your equilibrium.

Regardless of how antisocial, withdrawn, or demotivated you may feel in the period of time immediately following a move, force yourself to get out of your home, do some outings, and engage with the society around you nonetheless. This is essential for helping you to settle in and feel emotionally balanced, and that energy and an emotional balance will also contribute significantly to your ability to do good work in your business.

Set aside an area of your new home as a working space or office, on
the day of your arrival

It’s a pretty common scenario that when people move homes, they kind of leave the job of “getting moved in” and “settling in” half completed. That is, many people move homes, only to leave certain boxes stacked up around the home and garage for months, if not years, down the line.

This is not a good strategy for anyone, but at least if you are going to work in an office every day, the messy and chaotic state of your home won’t directly influence the environment in which you have to work.

As an entrepreneur, however, working with your laptop in bed, or on the sofa, while surrounded by clutter and mess, is a losing strategy and one that you really need to be on the lookout for.

On the very first day that you move into your new property, set aside a particular space – ideally an entire room – to use as your home office. Then, focus on getting that space tidied up, and “ready for action” as soon as possible, regardless of whatever is happening in the rest of the home.

There are various reasons why this is important, but primarily, it comes down to the fact that to work productively and to the best of our potential, we need to be able to enter a “flow” state where distraction fades away, and we can get immersed in our work. This is always going to be more difficult in a cluttered, chaotic, and undifferentiated environment.

That being said, you should work on systematically unpacking all of your belongings and getting the rest of the home up to a decent standard, too.

Keep yourself grounded – reintroduce familiar rituals and props to
give you a sense of familiarity

Having a certain degree of discipline and structure in place is an essential part of managing to settle into a new environment after a move, not to mention being able to get back to running your business productively.

But it’s not all just about being disciplined, or imposing a routine on yourself in general terms. Reintroducing a sense of familiarity is arguably just as important in terms of enabling you to get back into the flow of things, and pick up where you left off before the move.

To a large extent, this degree of familiarity is going to come down to re-establishing the rituals and reintroducing the “props” that you associate with your ordinary routine.

So, in order to keep yourself grounded, do what you can to reintroduce these rituals and props as soon as you can after completing your move, whether that means eating a certain food for breakfast, or listening to a certain soundtrack when going through your planner for the day.

Force yourself to stay busy and engaged in productive pastimes –
don’t sit around “killing time”

A well-known saying tells us that “procrastination is the thief of time.” This is true at the best of times, but following a major life upheaval such as a move, it becomes all the more significant.

In order to get yourself re-established as an entrepreneur as soon as possible following a move, you have to actively put systems in place to motivate productivity, and discourage time wasting.

This is important because, following a move, your natural routines will automatically become disrupted, and you will feel that there is a sense of “license” to “slack off” so to speak, and “find your bearings.”

Be a bit unforgiving with yourself, however. Activate web blockers, create to-do lists for each day, and hold yourself to a standard of action rather than giving yourself carte blanche for time wasting.

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