First of all, welcome to the Netherlands! And congratulations! After having lived here for the past 14 years I have to say, for me, this is one of the best places to live. Although I didn’t think that at all when I moved here a long time ago.

But back to you… In case you moved here, giving up a budding career in the process, you might be asking yourself: “So, NOW WHAT?”

Yes, good question… Over the past years, I have had many clients who asked themselves the exact same question.

The running train metaphor

I like to compare our career path with a running train. Once you are on it, it is difficult to get off the train, even if you do not like the journey or the destination. Moving abroad is like getting off the train and standing on a station. Many people immediately feel the urge to catch the next train.

If you are sure that the next one is the right train, you can do that. But if you have doubts, simply take the time to think. Consider which train, which journey and which destination you want to take next. It is a unique opportunity.

Food for thought

Here is some food for thought:

1. Evaluate your life and the career you have had so far

In order to decide which direction you want to go in, first take stock of your life so far:

  • What are you the most proud of and grateful for?
  • What gave you the most joy and fulfilment?
  • What didn’t you like?
  • What are you happy you left behind?
  • What do you want to change?

One of my clients was completely convinced that after moving to the Netherlands, she wanted to have a fast-paced career, like the one she had back in Australia. But after a couple of sessions, she discovered that she was actually happy that she had escaped it. She wanted to spend more time with her family, so she got a part-time job at a start-up company.

2. Make your own bucket list

Think of the things you want to do, both professionally and privately. What do you want this new era in your life to be about?

Another client of mine moved out of the Netherlands to a different country. We spoke about his move and his career transition, as he moved away from the NGO sector in order to start his own company. He told me that the most important question that helped him to make the transition was: “What lifestyle do I want to have?” Followed by: “What career fits this lifestyle?” So, please go ahead and ask yourself these questions.

3. Think out of the box

Of course, the easiest thing to do is to just pick up where you left off. If you had an office job, you might think, “I will just look for the same position.” But look at my previous points. Did you answer that you wanted to change some things? What have you written down on your bucket list?

The fact that everybody else is doing something, is not a good enough reason for you to be doing it as well. Think differently! The Netherlands is a unique country with a huge amount of start-ups, innovation centres, freelancers, volunteers, NGOs, social start-ups, part-timers, etc.

Maybe you were secretly dreaming of starting a new study, or wanted to start your own business, or dreamt of volunteering. It is all possible.

When I pick my daughter up from school every Wednesday at 12:30, I am always amazed at how many moms and dads are picking up their kids, implying that they either work part-time or have their own business. I hear you thinking, “Yes, but I also need to earn a living”. Sure, you do, but you also can think about ways to make it all work.

Try to come up with a plan first, instead of following the crowd or the very first opportunity that crosses your path.

4. Find your tribe

After you have made the change, there will be many times that you feel lonely, like I did. That is why you need to surround yourself with like-minded people, your “tribe”. They will help you; connect you with the right people. Connect with others online through social media. Facebook groups are wonderful for that, but also make the effort to go to the various expat / international events to meet real people.

5. Learn about Dutch culture

Learn as much as you can about the Dutch culture and how it differs from yours. This will save you a lot of frustration and help you navigate better. Here is the link to my article about cultural differences.

6. Make a personal / professional development plan

Once you have considered your dreams, preferred lifestyle and possible career change, it is time to make a plan. The crucial aspects of this plan are the following:

  • What are your 3-month, 6-month, 1-year, and long-term goals (both professional & private)?
  • What are the practical steps you need to take to get there?
  • Who can help you get there?
  • What resources will you need to get there (money, studies, courses etc.)?
  • What are the potential obstacles between you and your goal?
  • How will you handle the potential obstacles?
  • How will you reward yourself for realising your goals?

If there is no plan, the chances of you executing all your goals are limited! Do not skip this part! The best part about the plan is to actually think about the obstacles. Not in order to demotivate you, but in order to not get stuck when challenges appear. And they will appear. And when they do, you will already be prepared for them.

Also, remember that you can always alter your plan as you go!

7. Catch that train!

So, now that you have carefully looked around, considered what you like and love to do, gathered the right people around you, and made a plan, it is time to board the train and enjoy your new journey. Enjoy your new co-travellers, the view and embrace your decision fully. I hope you will love your new destination!

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Photo by Red Morley Hewitt on Unsplash