- Were you once a successful, professional woman who had significant status and received adequate remuneration for your work?
- Have you re-located or immigrated to a new foreign country, where the educational degree you worked so hard to achieve is neither recognized nor considered valid?
- As a result, have you now settled for a job for which you are overqualified and living paycheck to paycheck?
If you once had a successful professional career and answered yes to the above, you probably understand how frustrating it is to be unable to practice your profession in a new country.
The decision to immigrate to another country is a very courageous act. It involves leaving everything you know and everything you are used to and everything that makes up who you are. It also usually means starting over, making changes and finding a new job or career.
As a skilled professional woman, you already have a unique combination of marketable skills and experiences. You have optimism about your future prospects in the new country, education, commitment and motivation to work in your field of expertise, language ability and a desire to learn new things expertise.
With your kind of background, it's probably been puzzling to find yourself unemployed or settled in an unrewarding job outside your field of expertise.
When you move to a new country, it's important that you quickly face reality and do something about making your life a success.
To start making something of your life in a new country you need to:
1. Stop being in denial.
Accept change and be ready to change! Your past successful life is always going to be a part of you...no one can take that away from you. However, the rules of the game in the new country may mean that you may no longer be the successful, lawyer, doctor, CEO or professional you once were.
As painful as it may be to accept…don't spend your days talking about who you were in the past and dwelling in the glory of your past success. Don't live in denial any longer than you must. Accept the fact that your circumstances have changed and start looking for constructive ways to make the best of your life in the new country.
2. Take a stand for your life.
When people move to a new country, they usually want to live in a place where they have some contacts, relatives or friends. However, some of these people you know, may have resigned themselves to living unfulfilled lives and may try to prevent you (by their comments or actions) from expecting more for yourself.
If you want to make a success of your life, you must take a risk, go against the negative majority, choose to be different and take a stand for a positive future. The decision to get out from among people, who will hold you back from doing something with your life, is worth it!
3. Don’t lose your sense of self-worth.
Your professional occupation is a large part of your identity and an integral part of your life. However if you have settled for less and are now overqualified for your job, you may feel that the work you are doing is not a valuable contribution to society. As a result, you may start questioning yourself and feeling worthless.
You are not worthless! Find meaning and purpose in what you want to do and begin to pursue it with vigor. After counting the cost, make the decision to do what you have to do to make your life a success. Stop settling for less than you deserve, start standing up for yourself and for your dignity.
4. Stop being invisible.
If you were used to being recognized by members of your community who were aware of your professional merits, you may be feeling very “anonymous” in the new country.
If you were previously a highly active, social and professional woman, don’t chose jobs that will relegate you to the back office and hide you behind a pile of meaningless paperwork. Look for a job that projects your social qualities and allows you to interact more visibly.
Find a career that allows you to fully utilize your skills. This could mean starting your own business, finding a new career, going back to school or finding means and ways to become actively involved with people in your profession in the new country or abroad.
5. Be informed about the work culture of the new country.
This may seem pretty basic but it should not be taken for granted. If you want to get ahead you must stop running around like a headless chicken and begin to familiarize yourself with the lifestyle, culture and work ethics of the new country. For instance, do you understand the work place terminology? What kind of transferable/employable skills do you need? Do employers require curriculum vitae or resumes? What is the academic equivalent of the professional qualification you hold?
Sometimes the hardship you are facing is not brought about by you as a person but by your lack of research on the basics. Make the adjustment easier for yourself by tailoring your life to fit into the new place and not vice-versa.
6. Increase your social networks.
There is always a close connection between one's occupation and social status. When you are unable to transfer the occupation that you once held to the new country you now live in, you also lose social status. It is therefore important to have a network of people that you can trust and depend on.
You can have personal networks like friendship groups and social organizations and also join and actively participate in professional associations, community networks and support groups that are involved with issues that interest you. These networks also play a useful role in combating the feeling of being alone in a new place and can also be good idea or lead generators for a new job.
7. Don’t be complacent…do something!
Don’t wallow in self-pity. Hold on to your dreams and your goals. Work steadily and take risks to achieve them. Persevere and be resilient. Do what you have to do, to ensure that you make a success of your new life.
Be strong! Although there are many barriers to be overcome in a new country, let not your spirit be tarnished. Look within yourself for the strength to move forward with your life. With a positive attitude, you will find that there are a lot of things that can bring you ultimate success.
Caroline Jalango is a life strategist and motivational coach for women who want to do better for themselves. She is the author of "Settle for Less No More” and "You Deserve to Feel Good" motivational books for women who want to succeed. For more topics like this, visit http://www.motivationzone.com to gain the momentum to do better for yourself and get the results you want! Go to http://www.motivationzone.com to download and receive a free ebook to help you do better for yourself.