The Truth About Arriving as an Expat

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

Okay, I Arrived as an Expat.  Now What?

Like you, I dreamed about living overseas for many years.  Now I am doing it. Hooray! I’ve lived in this South American county (Ecuador) for a while now. I am a newbie, still finding my way around, but I am a settled newbie of sorts.

Climbing Mountains by Christoper Burns
Climbing Mountains by Christoper Burns

The process of moving overseas is complete.  I can now say without prevarication, “I live in Ecuador.” My life as an expat stretches before me and—caution, bubble burst ahead; I am not really all that happy.

Don’t get me wrong! There is everything to love about my new location; the problem is, in the past year of exploring, traveling, planning, packing, applying, meeting, learning and problem-solving,

I’ve felt engaged, busy, needed.  But now that I have arrived, I am unclear what’s coming next.

Arrival Fallacy – It’s a Real Thing

I’ve been tricked by what Tal Beh-Shahar, Harvard professor and author of Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment, calls arrival fallacy.

Arrival Fallacy is the false belief that reaching a valued destination can sustain happiness. 

You've what? Allie Smith
You’ve arrived…now what? Allie Smith

The truth is, happiness comes with the journey.  Happiness is not about planting your flag at the summit of the mountain or finally unpacking your books and hanging your artwork in a distant and exotic county, we find happiness in the experience of the climb, or in the excitement and the anticipation of transitioning.

For me, this ennui is a temporary state.  I have one more soon-to-be-completed project. Next month I travel to the United States to see my daughter married.  Then I will be ready to begin something new.  I don’t yet know what that project will be, but I know I will find something because I believe, to be happy, we humans need a goal, hope, something to look forward to.  Working toward a valued destination is a more powerful source of happiness than arriving.

If you are reading this post, you are in the process of becoming the adventurous, interesting, capable person you desire to be.  Enjoy the process.  Give yourself permission to be happy right now, happy with the satisfaction of working toward a goal. Do not be impatient to arrive.  Give yourself permission to be happy with each baby step you take toward your destination.

As for me, I have the happy task of pondering the question, “What is important for me to do now?’ I will enjoy the process of discovery and I promise to share my conclusions with you when I am clear.

For now, let’s talk about the joy of being in the process.  Comment below.

by: Dana Dwyer