Changing careers while being an expat, what an adventure!

September 19, 2022 in Career, Ex-pat

Why is it hard to realize that changing careers is necessary?

Changing careers affects all aspects of your life - professional and personal. The professional life and the personal life are linked and intertwined with each other. One will impact the other and vice versa.


For most of us, we spend eight hours a day, five days a week at work. A big part of our life is spent there. We organize our days according to our job and some of our personal life choices are influenced or directed by our professional choices, or our partner’s. Our personal life is inevitably impacted by our professional activity. For good or bad.


It is therefore important that our work does not cause us suffering, and it is not something we despise. We don't have to be absolutely passionate about our work (though life will be happier if you are), but we do have to find meaning, satisfaction, and stimulation in it in order to feel fulfilled.


When these three feelings (or ikigai-kan) are missing at work, it is then that we start to lose motivation and our sense of mission or meaning begins to deteriorate, which can lead us to burn out.

The first difficulty is to become aware of this shift; this loss of meaning, satisfaction and stimulation.

We often look for excuses or logical explanations when these feelings begin to drift.


"I don't really agree with the decisions of my hierarchy or my team, but that's the way it is, I have to follow them." 

“Oh, it's just the new boss, he has a new way of doing things, I have to get used to it.”

"My work has become rather flat, it's always the same thing, but at least I'm never in trouble."


These examples may seem insignificant and commonplace, and perhaps are phrases we have often heard at work or have often said to ourselves, justifying our unhappiness.  But these can be the first signs indicating to us that something is no longer in agreement with ourselves in the workplace. And as we say this to ourselves, and believe that we are just meant to put up with it all, we slowly start to slide towards a misalignment.


Sometimes it takes a forceful event to help us realize that this misalignment exists and is a problem.

For me, it was the pandemic coupled with an expatriation.


I worked for a big company for five years as a geoscientist. My love for technical and scientific work was strong but I hated the (non) human part of this job. I felt like I was a pawn and I was working without any recognition, purpose or meaning.


My partner and I moved to the US just before this microscopic being came into our lives. These two things made me realize that the career path I had embarked on was not in line with my values, my needs, and what I wanted in my life. 

When I look back on myself two years ago, I feel like it was a different life. I felt lost, stuck, and paralyzed by my situation. Having just moved to the United States, I was not working and had no job prospects because of the pandemic. 


I was consumed by the fear of change.


The fear of starting something completely new, completely different from what I was doing in France. My fear of failing, and my fear of the unknown.


The concern of having studied for eight years for nothing. The fear that my work experience was worthless - I felt like I had to throw away all those years.


Realizations and changes were necessary.


I went through a few difficult months. But deep down I knew that changing careers was what I needed.


And then I started to explore my ikigais. I started to know myself better. Starting to understand myself allowed me to understand better what I was feeling and some of my behaviors and reactions. I started to finally listen to my needs, my desires and my inner voice. This introspective work allowed me to rebuild my damaged self-confidence and self-esteem and above all to be clear about what I wanted for myself, for my life.


And then, I took the leap. I did it - I changed my career. 


I decided to follow my instincts and become an entrepreneur. 


Sure, at first I had the usual questions, "but why?", "are you going to make money?", "isn't it too risky?". 

But the real question I needed to ask myself was "why not"? 

Why do we need to fit into boxes and do what those around us or society expects of us? What about doing what works for us, what speaks to us, and what is aligned with who we are?

It can be scary to do something totally different. There is a lot of doubt at first and that's normal. Am I making the right decision? Will I be able to do it? Do I have what it takes? This doesn’t even include the imposter syndrome and the feelings of illegitimacy that comes with it…

But one piece of advice I would like to give you as you explore your career options is this: listen to your inner voice, it knows! And above all, hang in there and don't give up.

Changing careers and becoming an entrepreneur and coach has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have never felt more at home with this immense sense of freedom and mission. Of course, there are challenges and difficulties. But they don’t defeat me. They allow me to leave my comfort zone, surpass myself, and develop personally.

The challenges I undertake every day in my new life and new career allow me to move forward and grow.


One of my greatest ikigai is to help women live in alignment with themselves and their values so that they can find freedom, happiness, and fulfillment in their lives. I am so grateful to be able to share my knowledge of the ikigai philosophy and my personal experiences with all these incredible women so that they can be the happiest, most honest, and most fulfilled versions of themselves.


If you are looking to change your career or your relationship with work, our coaching program will help you. 

You will build your awareness around what is troubling and out of alignment, you will define your goals and values, be clear about your strengths and natural abilities, put in place a clear action plan to achieve your goals (personal or professional), and enjoy the daily joys of life.

 You too can do it. Changing careers can be your next move!

If you want to know more about my story and how I changed careers during my expatriation in the US,  listen to the podcast I recorded with Les Américains Le Podcast - changing career in expatriation.

Podcast in French.

"Hi Chloe, I listened to your interview with Laure from Les Américains le Podcast, and I wanted to tell you that it was very inspiring! You've made quite a career change and you look really happy and fulfilled, it makes you want to do it!"


Our services

Our clients are often: first-time expats, trailing spouses, diplomats, well-seasoned expats, digital nomads, moms…

Click here to learn about our services, how an expat coach can help you through the challenges of your expatriation, and how you can find and pursue your ikigai as an expat. 

To read more of our blogs, click here.


Karly and Chloé are certified NLP and Ikigai coaches. Vibrant Ikigai offers bilingual workshops and 1:1 coaching services to help expat women thrive in their lives abroad.

Contact us today to set up your free discovery call !