Should I stay or go? How expat coaching can help you find clarity, with Katherine from Bad Days Abroad.
The final interview in the Expat Coach series is here!
This one is a little different, because Katherine is not, strictly speaking, an expat coach. But she does help expats.
I came across Katherine’s blog when I was going through a rough time adjusting to life abroad. It was the first time I’d seen someone talk really openly and honestly about the downsides of expat life. She also interviewed me for her blog series “Should I Stay or Go?” which you can check out here!
So, without further ado, let’s meet our final interviewee in this series!
What the f*** is an Expat Coach w/ Bad Days Abroad
Meet Katherine 👋 She is a serial expat-turned-repat and clarity coach who helps expats decide whether to stay or go and feel absolutely confident that they’re making the right decision.
1. What is coaching?
For me, coaching is a close relationship between Person A and Person B, where Person A has the experience, tools and insight to achieve a very specific result. So Person A shares with Person B what s/he/them needs to know and do in order to achieve that result and supports them in taking the necessary steps.
2. Are you a therapist, a guidance counsellor or a consultant? Or none of these things? Or all of these things?
As part of Bad Days Abroad, I’m strictly speaking a coach – I help my clients achieve a very specific result, which is a clear decision, action plan and tools to navigate change.
Whenever I see that the issues my client is struggling with have deeper emotional roots, I refer them to a therapist. Since I do not have the credentials of a therapist, it would be unethical of me to pretend to be one.
That said, outside of Bad Days Abroad I work as a consultant and mentor, helping businesses envision the kind of change they want for their future and make a plan for realizing it.
3. Define an expat.
Someone who moves abroad for an un/defined period of time.
Personally, I’m not terribly concerned with labels (it’s the content that matters to me) though I’m fully aware of the minefield that the term “expat” can be. I never identified as an expat, but it’s a term that’s meaningful enough to refer to someone who lives abroad.
4. What is an expat coach?
I would say it’s an expat who has the experience, tools and insight to help other expats navigate life and new situations in a foreign context.
5. What inspired you to become a coach?
Actually, I didn’t choose to become a coach. This line of work chose me, in many ways.
My professional life has always revolved around passing on knowledge, methods and tools in order to help others achieve what they want. I’ve taught at university, I consult businesses right now alongside Bad Days Abroad and now I coach people as part of Bad Days Abroad, too.
Although I didn’t consciously choose coaching, I love that this is what I do because it’s the kind of work that never drains me. I love being able to bring game-changing “AHA!” moments to the people I work with.
6. What credentials do you have to support your coaching business?
What I know the most about is change, and that’s through my personal, academic and professional experience.
I’ve worked with creating, communicating and managing change in the business world for most of my career. You’d think that because it’s business, people are less emotional about change, but that’s far from the truth.
I’m the go-to person for managers and employees of all kinds when they’re faced with change, and the issues people struggle with completely overlap with the issues expats have when deciding whether to stay or go.
At some point, I was also so fascinated with how people deal with change that I even chose it as the research topic for my PhD, which I defended in 2019.
In short, while I haven’t formally sought out coaching credentials, my professional life has shaped me into a coach over the years.
7. What do you do exactly? I mean, how do you help people?
The first step, and perhaps the most important step, is cutting through the noise and chaos that’s in my client’s head. We peel back all the layers of fear and external conditioning (there’s often a lot of it) that has led my client to feeling utterly stuck.
It’s only once we’ve discovered what’s important and what’s not important for my client, both in the short and long-term, that we talk about actually making any decisions or changes.
The “should I stay or go?” question often isn’t about making the decision itself, it’s about deeper needs not being met and the fear around never having those needs met. My job is to help my clients see that they CAN have the life that they want and support them in taking action on it.
8. What do you not do? Who do you not help?
As I mentioned earlier, when it seems that there are deeper unresolved emotional issues weighing down my client, I refer him/her/them to a therapist either alongside our coaching sessions or instead of coaching with me.
It’s never a good idea to make a life-altering decision when you’re still hurting from the past. Wherever you go, your problems will simply follow you. “Pulling a geographic” doesn’t fix things, though it can provide temporary relief.
9. Talk me through a typical expat coaching session. What exactly is my money getting me?
I’ve developed a signature coaching method to make sure that my clients have a structure to follow after a period of chaotic and anxious thoughts that don’t lead to clarity. The first step is to take an honest look at what’s working and what’s not working in their life abroad. This gives us our first indication of whether it’s time to wrap things up or something else needs my client’s attention.
Then, we lay the foundation and dig deep to understand what are the core needs that my client has in order for them to feel that they’re living a damn good life (the very opposite of what they’re feeling when they reach out to me). This will act as a guiding post for which decisions are worth making and which ones are just a distraction.
Once we’ve got a clear picture, that’s when a lot of fears, limiting beliefs and negative past experiences float to the surface for my clients. We then work on eliminating the impact of those so that my clients can move forward without this baggage.
As a final step, we discuss strategies to move forward with, researching options and working through seemingly incomparable options and incompatible needs until the client feels 100% confident about their next steps. Much of my coaching also involves planning for a career change because work is a big part of general life satisfaction for most people.
That said, my experience has shown that it often takes one crucial question or comment from me for a whole new world of opportunities to open up for my clients. As an example, one client of mine thought she needed to move to another country, but after taking a single session with me, we discovered that what she really needed was a well-deserved long vacation.
Sometimes, though not always, the answers we seek have such obvious answers, we can’t even believe that something rather simple could be the solution to getting unstuck.
10. Do you think the expat experience is often hyped up too much online and can therefore have an adverse effect on aspiring or new expats who feel like they should be happy and wonderful all the time?
Absolutely! That’s the #1 reason why I started Bad Days Abroad, to balance out how expat life is talked about and help expats feel less alone with their negative experiences abroad.
I’m a former serial expat of 15 years and if I had had the experience and insight that I have now after all these years, I would have been able to avoid a lot of heartache and struggle. I still would have moved abroad and changed countries multiple times, I just would have been much better prepared to support myself through the bad days abroad.
On the bright side, repatriation has been easy on me because I always treated it as a move to a foreign country. Framing repatriation like this took away a lot of the pressure many repats experience around how they expect to feel like they used to back home when, in fact, they’ve been forever changed by their life abroad.
Bad Days Abroad Services:
If you’re living abroad and thinking about moving on or moving home, Katherine offers some great services to help you make the right decision:
- If you want to feel 100% clear and confident on what’s the right decision for you, then check out the full Clarity Program here, which is based on Katherine’s signature coaching method 🗣️
- If you just need a fresh perspective to help you move forward on your own, you can book a Clarity Email Consultation here or a one-off 90-minute Clarity Intensive Session here.
- If you prefer to tackle your issues independently, but still want to follow the logic of the signature coaching method, you can grab the Clarity Workbook here 📖
Katherine is also preparing to open up doors to an interactive and intimate 2-hour masterclass called “Is Repatriation Right For You?” on February 7th, 2022 and there are ONLY 10 spots available! Plus, you’ll get access to a private Facebook group where you can ask questions from Katherine after the masterclass. If this sounds like something of interest to you, ✨ sign up now! ✨
You can find Bad Days Abroad online here: