I’ve just ended the most three intense weeks of my life: on March 11th I moved from Milan to Prague, accepting a job there and taking the leap to have an abroad experience.
I think that it was a necessary step to do in my life, but I’ve never expected something so difficult. I wanted to write an article last week, but, well, too many things to do, right? So, I skipped it. I don’t like excuses, but this time I have been swept away by a giant wave, like I used to be when I was a little kid on the beach in Calabria, Italy. But this time was not water… just a series of unlikely events plus my understimation of some things I wasn’t aware of. However, I think that the more intense is the experience, the more things you can learn. You just need enough calm to retrospectively look at the events when they finish.
So, here there are three things I have learned about moving here to the city of the 100 towers:
1. Have a deep reason
It sounds a bit obvious, but I will tell you my idea. There are usually two types of decisions: one for satisfying your ego; and a deeper one to satisfy your soul. Your ego tipically wants more money, more power, or to be more famous. It is never enough, and, usually, the goal is not so much pleasant or easy to achieve.
If you believe it or not, the ego is really fragile: it looks for security outside, it exploits people to achieve just what it wants, and it does what it does just because it is influenced by society, not by your dreams.
Your soul is different. It wants the best for you and for others. If you analyze yourself you can find your deep desires which can improve your life and the one of the people around you. It could be: “I want to do this to become a better person”, or “I do this because I want to help my family”. These reasons give you much more motivation than the first ones, and, trust me, the results you achieve following your deep dreams are always much more than you expect.
2. Go easy with yourself
A change means modifying a stable situation and turning it into something new. This requires you to adapt. Usually, people need time to adapt to a new job, a new house, or a new country. And every new situation can cause stress, possible risks and difficulties.
When I decided to move abroad from Milan, I was passing through all these changes. Plus, I was far away from my family and friends. I don’t want to play the victim here, but all these changes require effort, and you can’t expect to be a super person when you go through them. The intensity of your emotions and stress is much higher, and you might need help for overcoming it.
In my view, I suggest changing things one after the other: you make the choice and then adapt to that decision, feel your emotions, give it some time, and pay attention to your stress levels.
On the other hand, when the changes are happening all at once, I suggest you talk with the closest people in your life and ask them to go easy on you: explain to them the situation and the level of stress you are undergoing. They will understand you. We are humans, not machines.
3. Keep an emotional diary
Going through a change can be a tricky task, especially when you have to understand your emotions about the new situation. One of the most effective techniques that I use to clarify my thoughts is expressive writing, a concept developed by Dr. James Pennebaker at the University of Texas.
The exercise consists of writing down your thoughts and your emotions for a certain topic for three or four days. The emotions are changing a lot during stressful periods and it is important to keep track on them for two reasons: 1. we understand better ourselves; 2. we clarify the different emotions we have and rationalize the situation.
It is important just to keep track on what you wrote, not take decisions. When you will feel more stable, you can read them and have a better idea of the period you have passed, how you reacted, and decide what to do next.
According to me, this can be a useful thing to do during stressful moments, like big changes.
In conclusion, do not underestimate big changes: find a good reason if you’d like to change something, take it easy (and try to not change too much if you can) and keep track of your emotional states. And don’t worry, we are in this world for learning: new skills, new languages, but also how to take care of ourselves. Have the courage to choose and don’t give up.