An Expat Working from home: Doing nothing

"I just don't know how you can work from home and do nothing all day."

I've heard this a lot. Or people are just calling, texting, visiting and expecting things at the drop of a hat because "You're just sitting at home."

A major misconception about remote life is that it's all lounging by the pool with margaritas, no work being done, or working "four hour work weeks" as made famous by Tim Ferris, but the reality is much different. In fact, most expat entrepreneurs (including me) work just as much if not more than they had previously on a 9-5 schedule. 

People imagine expats as free spirits who impulsively make decisions one day and fly across the globe the next, someone who has no responsibilities other than to enjoy themselves in a foreign country. And when expats talk about their lives as digital nomads, they often make it sound like the most amazing thing ever - travelling around the world while you work remotely... if ONLY it was that luxurious. 

While I do have to pinch myself often because I STILL can't believe I am living in France, In most cases... it's not some magical carefree life. A big decision like moving abroad doesn't come on a whim, and a LOT of work goes into getting your career/business/life to a point where you can just move countries, and then upon arrival, there are all kinds of new things to figure out. Particularly if it also involves changing careers.

Expat entrepreneurs are typically people with broad skill sets who have had successful careers in the past. Many have years of experience and the strong knowledge and skills to do their job, not just at home but anywhere. Often, they want more from their jobs (or life); they might be looking for professional opportunities abroad or want to move due to their desire to learn about other cultures, teach English, or fulfil a lifelong dream.

Thrown in with language and cultural barriers; digital life comes with a unique set of challenges. Working from home, you definitely need to be more self-motivated and organized than if you were working in an office or for someone else. You need to learn how to market yourself; you are constantly learning new skills... and if you're starting out with a new business venture... you're doing everything yourself... there is no "marketing team" or "finance guy" to palm it off to. You have to learn it and make it happen.

A standard week can include marketing, design, research, project planning, content creation, writing, editing, networking, web design, programming, course creation, accounting, video editing, photography... just to name a few.

Along with various tasks, expat entrepreneurs also spend time networking, building skills, and professional and personal development and, on top of that, trying to learn a new language and figuring out how to fit into a new culture. It can be tough if you're trying to balance professional development with your personal life while living in another country where nobody understands your idiosyncrasies or what makes you tick (or what the hell you're trying to say.)

Even though life as an expat may seem like the most fantastic thing ever, there are still many challenges people face when they take on this type of journey. Furthermore, I want to emphasize that moving overseas does not mean giving up your career or your identity; instead, it’s about finding new ways to express yourself in a foreign environment while maintaining what has made you successful back home! 


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