The largest cause of assignee failure is due to the problems encountered by the accompanying partner rather than the performance of the assignee.
Today’s accompanying expat partners –mostly women- are highly educated and are used of having their own career. More often than not, they give up their job reluctantly and would like to work in the new host country. But that is not easy. Visa restrictions may apply and make it impossible to work. It is at the least challenging to look for a new job in an unfamiliar location and compete with well qualified local staff (with network). In addition, there are cultural differences and language barriers that can make it extremely complicated to find a suitable work environment. If there are children involved it is even more complicated: the working spouse is more absent than present and who is going to take care of the kids without a support network to turn to? More than ever, the kids do need mom or dad to help them coping socially and academically in the unfamiliar surroundings.
It turns out that the majority of the accompanying partners end up not working in the new country
Once your spouse has an international resume, it is likely that more international assignments will follow. Years slip away before you realize what’s happening. Frustration grows as you realize that your professional life feels like an elements of a former life. You’ve not only lost the role of an employee, but also the related network and opportunity to develop yourself. You may encounter a loss of identity, which closely relates to the number of social roles you have. Social isolation and loneliness are at risk and this affects you immunity and physical health!
A portable life needs a portable career…
If you feel this frustration and discontentment it is a wise thing to start thinking about a portable life and perhaps a portable career. Do you know what your life purpose is? Are you aware of your values and qualities? If not, this the time to find out and start an authentic and balanced life. Make a plan for the future and have an annual review of your situation and goals, ideally with someone who has expat experience, an unbiased opinion and the guts tot ell you what you need to hear (not a family member or close friend).
Or a satisfying alternative
If working (in your original profession) is not an option, it is extremely important to find a satisfying alternative: volunteer work, a course or study, a new business. There are different paths that lead to a fulfilling and meaningful life. Go and search for the life that suits you best. Have a rich and colorful journey!