How to not over extend your expat career?
Living in Dubai for more than 10 years and owing to the fact that this place is just a transient city for us, I have seen too many times friends and colleagues come and go. I feel bad especially if they’re close friends but that’s the reality of being an expat. You are bound to leave the place. Unless of course it’s your choice to stay and you can’t really see life going back to your own home place or you’re not interested building a new life again in another country.
If you came to Dubai (or in any other country as an expat) and intend to work only for a few years, I am giving you some advice on how you can stick to your plan and not over extend your stay. This is especially true to my fellow OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) who left their family behind in search of better future for them. Most shares similar reasons for leaving – want to send the children to college, buy own home, save enough capital to start a business. But how often we got side-tracked and ended up staying in our host country longer than planned. 2 years became 3, then 4 and before we know it we are here long after our target date and yet that dream house is still a dream. My heart is crying for parents who missed their children’s birthday and graduation, who spends Christmas with friends instead of their kids, who sacrifices 20 or 30 years of their life living away from their family.
It’s never too late. As I keep on saying, you are reading this post because of a reason. You are interested and for sure you will take action.
MAKE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT
I am a firm believer of Law of Attraction. I always say that you have to believe that everything is possible if you really focus on it and take action. The Universe will provide whatever you want if you know what you want.
BUT I believe in action. Wishing to be a millionaire is not achievable if you only wish for it. Same goes for building a new home or setting up a business. First step is to decide what you want, believe you can achieve it, focus on it, think of ways on how you can achieve your goal, take action and you will reap the results of your desire.
How can one take an action if they don’t have a plan? For example, you came to this country hoping to build a home for your family. You’re just sick and tired of renting and you want to have a place of your own. Good, you know what you want. But how are you going to do it? That’s what planning is all about. The problem with having no plan is you can get easily distracted with things trying to grab your attention. Someone will offer you a discounted second hand car, your daughter is graduating from elementary and she just deserves an iPad, you should buy that television while on sale – 32-inch for just 799 dhs, what a steal!
If you are dead-set on having your own home, and you make out a plan, you can easily say no to these distractions because you are focused.
Ok Lyn, what do you mean exactly by plan? Very good question and I’m glad you asked.
Here’s what you need to do. First, list down the things you would want to achieve. Enumerate them.
- Buy a 2-bedroom house in Villa Quintana Subdivision.
2. Save 2 million pesos to start food business in my hometown.
3. Secure kids’ college education.
Let’s use goal number 1 as an example. It’s a very good goal. You have figured out what you want and you believe you can achieve this. And the fact that you’re sacrificing to be away from your family just to work is a testament that you’re taking action. So I can achieve it easily right? Well, not that easy and fast unless you focus.
Second thing you need to do is ask yourself, how can I achieve my 3-bedroom home? Your list can look something like this:
- Inquire how much the house costs, the payment plan, when can you move-in, and so on.
- Save xxx amount for next 1 year for required house deposit.
- Take a loan from Pag-ibig fund and pay xxx amount monthly for 5 years
- Save xxx pesos every month to buy furniture and fixtures.
For sure, while making this plan, you will get very excited and motivated and feel that everything is possible. Never lose that spirit. You will achieve it because You deserve it.
Lastly, now that you have a plan on how to achieve that dream home, it’s now up to you to stick to it. Scenario: Your daughter just graduated in elementary and she wants a laptop as a reward. That laptop will cost one month of your saving for the house deposit. Will you still purchase it? That is equivalent to one month staying longer in your host country. If you continue giving-in to the distractions, your 1 month longer stay will be 3 months, then 1 year longer and before you know it, you haven’t saved enough even for the house deposit. Make a plan and stick to it.
INFORM YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS OF ‘THE PLAN’
We are very giving. We will sacrifice and won’t complain just to see our family members happy. It’s already ingrained in us and although it’s a very admirable characteristic, it will sabotage our plan of achieving our goal. I understand that you want the best for your family, who wouldn’t? But always remember every time you buy that rubber shoes on sale, or that iPhone for your wife or those cute toys that your children would love, think again! How much is the value of these gifts in terms of my time working abroad? Then you decide.
Your plan will be a challenge if you don’t let your family join you. They need to know the plan so they can help you. Ok, your wife is aware that the goal is to buy a house but how can she have an idea of ‘the plan’ if you will not share it to her? Let her get involved with the planning. Build your plan together. You will then both experience the excitement of creating your future home. She will feel important on achieving your goal and can do things that she can control like spending and saving.
It doesn’t matter who handles the savings account but both of you (involve the kids even) should sit down together every month and discuss your plan progress. Was it derailed this month? Were you able to achieve more than your savings target?
By sharing your plan, you’re not only helping yourself but you are also empowering your family (your mom, dad, siblings, kids) that they can contribute to achieve greater things.
HAVE A BACK-UP
Life is full of surprises. Your will and perseverance might be tested from time to time. Unexpected events might derail you on achieving the plan. That’s why I always recommend having a back-up. And what is that backup? It’s called Emergency Funds and Savings. I have explained these two in detailed on my previous posts so I won’t repeat again. Feel free to read them and be enlightened on how you can realistically do it. It’s not rocket science or magic. It’s achievable and you can do it.
The problem of not having an emergency fund is you will always dip your hands in your savings or credit card for unexpected expenses. However dedicated you are on completing your goal, these emergencies will challenge your determination and one way to prevent getting out of track is being prepared. You can focus more on your task if you are secure that there’s an emergency fund to use in case of any issues. I will repeat, it’s achievable and you can do it!
What’s the connection between health and not extending your expat life? Well, simple. You are in your host country because of a reason. It could be either one of those things I mentioned earlier (house, education. business, etc.), or you want to grow your career or you just want to experience something different. And how do you think you can achieve all this if your health is faltering and deteriorates before you can even achieve your goal?
This is one thing I keep on reminding myself. Money is nothing if you don’t have your faith, your family or a good health. I won’t discuss the first two for now but health is something that we can manage and can control. For whatever reason, may it be business or pleasure, we tend to abuse our body by not sleeping well, eating too much, eating so little, consuming the wrong kinds of food, smoking, drinking and every wrong stuff in between that affects our health.
How can you enjoy your dream home if you’re already sick and drowning with medication? Worst is getting sick before even having that house.
It might be difficult at first but as I keep on saying, if we want it then we can achieve it.
There you have it. Hope you get something out of this. Through Him, everything is possible. Keep repeating this mantra to yourself “I can achieve it because I deserve it”. Repeat it continuously until you start believing that you really deserve it.