“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you’re doing it.”
So says Simon Sinek, author, speaker, and TED Talk sensation. Sinek created “Golden Circle”, a model that illustrates motivation. According to Sinek’s Golden Circle, people are motivated not by what they do, or how they do it, but by the all important WHY.
In short, Sinek argues that you don’t buy an MP3 player from Apple because you need an MP3 player and hey, look! Apple makes MP3 players. Instead, you buy an iPod because Apple is a company that packages up its WHY.
Apple sells you its mission, not its product. The mission is to challenge the status quo and create beautiful, intuitive, well-designed devices. You buy an iPod because you want a piece of that beauty, that story, not just because you want a device that plays music.
I’ll bet you’re saying now, “Okay, great. But what does this have to do with life as an expat partner?” Well, a lot, actually.
To find success as an expat partner, you must understand and live your own WHY. You must identify that thing which motivates you, the thing that gets you excited, that makes your stomach flip-flop, that thing that you love so much you want to jump out of bed in the morning. When you understand your why, you’ll have the first piece of the map that will guide your new life abroad.
Knowing your WHY can make you a much happier expat.
When I arrived in India I was only 24. At that young age, I barely knew myself, let alone my WHY. I was too busy coping with massive life changes - a new marriage, international moves, the loss of a budding career, saying good bye to friends, of family, even of my hobbies - to focus on what I was doing, let alone why I was doing it.
Life was a haze. I couldn’t work, so instead I floated through life in India, doing the Expat Wife Circuit: coffee mornings; volunteer meetings; trips to the market; tentative steps exploring the city. I was happy. Sort of? I guess? I was happy to explore, to taste new food, to be thrilled by the sight of elephants parading down the highway. I had friends and acquaintances.
But I didn’t have and identity. People would ask me, “What do you do?” I had no good answer. I was empty, adrift, and without a map.
It’s no coincidence that I cried at least once a day while we lived in Delhi. Without a WHY, the challenges of life there were overwhelming. Why was I putting up with regular bouts of food poisoning? Why was I navigating the frustrations of simple daily tasks like hiring a taxi or doing my grocery shopping? WHY I was attending these meetings, or visiting that museum. It was the thing to do. What other expat wives did. So I did it too.
Now, almost eight years later, my WHY has come into focus.
Whether I’m sitting down at my computer writing a blog post, or hopping on a train with my two-year-old and exploring Central Java, I know why I’m doing it. I know why I’m excited, motivated, and I know why I’m living here. I know why I’m in no hurry to go back to Canada.
It took me a while to find my WHY and to feel successful. But I made it. And you can too!
In the next post I’ll explore how I transitioned from an unhappy WHY-less trailing spouse to to a happy, and (dare I say it?) successful expat partner.
Have you moved abroad and found yourself lost? Do you want to explore your WHY? Do you want to discover what makes your stomach feel like butterflies? Do you want to find that thing that you love so much you’d do for free?
Expat Partner Success is hosting a Mission and Vision day (date TBD). We’ll be exploring our WHYS, what motivates us, what drives us to feel successful and fulfilled. We’ll help you in creating a map to build up the life that YOU want to lead.
For more information, sign up for our newsletter.
Until then, tell me, what’s your why? Have you found it yet? Do you feel driven and focused as an expat partner? Or are you still looking for a map of your new life?