Changing careers as an expat mother

September 18, 2023 | Blog, Education, Wellbeing

Mel Stahl is a Transformational Life Coach, based in Hamburg, Germany. She works with clients from around the world, empowering them to live a fulfilling and happy life. Here she shares her insights and practical advice with on navigating and embracing career changes as an expat mother.

Life Coach Mel Stahl on Career Changes as an Expat Mother

Embracing the opportunity for self-discovery and reinvention

Life as an expat mother is a rollercoaster and often brings unexpected twists. One of the most significant is having to reinvent your career plans. It’s a scenario many of you have faced; the dream job you thought was waiting for you abroad turns out to be harder than you ever imagined.  Challenges such as visa restrictions, language barriers, qualifications not matching the country you live in, changing family dynamics and more are all obstacles that might get in your way. 


The emotions you face are valid: frustration, uncertainty, and feelings of being stuck. However, it is also important to recognise that this turning point presents an amazing opportunity for growth and transformation. In this blog, we’ll explore how you can embrace this process of reinventing yourself, discover new paths, and find empowerment in the face of change.


Facing changes in career plans can be a tough pill to swallow. You might have envisioned a specific path that seemed perfect for your skills and aspirations.  I know my initial response to these shifts is often a mix of frustration, disappointment and a sense of being a bit out of my depth. I am sure many of you reading this have found yourselves asking, What now? It’s important to remember that this is not the end of the road, but simply a detour that leads to new possibilities.

Changing careers as an expat mother

Adopting a growth mindset

It’s common to feel resistance when faced with a potential career change.  Especially as for some of us, our career is an integral part of our identity.  But here’s where the power of a growth mindset comes into play. Embracing change with a growth mindset means viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and development. Instead of seeing a closed door, see a pathway to new skills, experiences, and self-discovery.  At this point in your life, it’s so important to address any limiting beliefs that may be holding you back – those thoughts that tell you that change is impossible or that you’re not capable of starting over. Remember that your mindset shapes your reality. By shifting your perspective and focusing on your capacity to learn and adapt, you’re opening yourself up to a world of new possibilities.


The most important thing is to recognise is the wealth of skills you’ve already developed throughout your life, and career and adapting to a new country.  These skills are transferable – they can be your bridge to new opportunities. Take a moment to reflect on your past roles, both within and outside of the workforce. What were you good at? What challenges did you overcome? These experiences have equipped you with valuable skills such as problem-solving, time management and adaptability, which as a mother you do without thinking! Now, consider how these skills can be applied in different contexts. Are you a natural communicator? A skilled organiser? An effective leader? These transferable skills aren’t tied to a specific job title; they are versatile tools that can be used to build a new career path.

Expat career changes

Reconnecting with the things that bring you joy

If you are considering reinventing your career path it’s a perfect time to reconnect with your passions and explore new interests. You might be wondering what truly excites you, especially if you’ve been focused on your previous career or family commitments. Begin by reflecting on activities that bring you joy – whether it’s writing, painting, volunteering, or immersing yourself in a subject you’ve always been curious about. This exploration isn’t just about finding a new job; it’s about discovering what ignites your enthusiasm and energises you. Remember, the process might involve trial and error, but each step you take is a step closer to finding your next path.


Reinventing your career may seem daunting, especially in a country that isn’t familiar to you or involves new language skills.   But another way to look at it as is a new journey of self-discovery that requires a growth and curious mindset to motivate the up-skilling that might be necessary for your new career path.  As you explore a new career path, consider the skills that will empower you to thrive in your chosen direction.


This may at first seem daunting, especially with the everyday life of being a mother, but these skills might include technical abilities, soft skills, or even knowledge specific to the industry you’re pursuing. Thank goodness for the internet!  Learning opportunities are there for us at our fingertips and in our own language.  Online platforms provide courses that can be tailored to our schedules, allowing us to learn at our own pace. I like to think that every new skill we acquire is an investment in ourselves and our future. Set yourself learning goals, celebrate your progress, and embrace the excitement of expanding your capabilities.

Building connections as an expat mother

Any form of networking is fundamental to us expats and happens naturally being a mum abroad.  However, networking for new career opportunities may be something you haven’t tried yet.  For those of you who are feeling a little nauseous at the thought of networking for job purposes, I HEAR you! I get nervous just at the thought of it. But I also know that it is necessary to help us on our journey of re-invention and meet new people, which is hugely beneficial for our mental well-being.


What will we gain from networking? new insights, support and able to explore new opportunities we might not have thought possible.  As an expat, networking takes us on a unique journey – it connects us with a diverse group of individuals who share our experience of living abroad, which automatically gives us common ground.  If you haven’t already done this, why not consider attending expat-oriented events, where you can meet people from various backgrounds and industries. 


Additionally, online platforms like LinkedIn offer a convenient way to connect with professionals across the globe. Don’t underestimate the power of personal connections either – friends, fellow expat mothers, and acquaintances can introduce you to new possibilities.  And remember, networking isn’t just about finding job leads; it’s about building a community that can help you navigate your new career journey.  It may feel the hardest thing to do, stepping out of our comfort zones, but trust me when you have done it you will be able to celebrate taking that first step into the unknown.

Planning out your next career steps

So what do you need to do when you embark on your journey of career reinvention?  Well, creating a career transition plan can provide you with the roadmap you need to navigate this exciting change. This can help you set clear goals, outline the steps required to achieve them and stay focused on your path. Start by identifying your overall goal – whether it’s landing a new role, starting a freelance business or pursuing further education.


Break this goal into smaller, actionable steps. Set a timeline for each step and celebrate your achievements along the way. Keep in mind that challenges are a natural part of any transition, so be prepared to adapt and adjust your plan as needed. Remember, your career transition plan is your tool for empowerment and progress. If you feel that you have no idea where to start then perhaps a career coach can help.

Treating yourself with kindness and compassion

The process of embracing change and stepping into new territories can trigger feelings of uncertainty and anxiety about one’s abilities. However, it’s essential to recognise that these feelings are normal, and they don’t define your potential. Many individuals, even the most successful ones, have faced moments of self-doubt on their path to greatness. The key is not to eliminate self-doubt entirely but to learn to manage it. When those negative thoughts arise, challenge them. Ask yourself if they’re based on facts or assumptions. Reflect on your past achievements and remind yourself of your strengths. Above all, cultivate self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness and encouragement you’d extend to a friend facing a similar situation. Remember, self-doubt is just a small part of your story; it doesn’t determine your outcome.

As an expat mother, the journey of reinventing your career or moving back into the workplace is one of self-discovery, growth, and empowerment.

We have looked at strategies to help you navigate this journey with confidence and purpose. Remember that change is a catalyst for growth. Every challenge you face is an opportunity to discover your true potential. By exploring new interests, up-skilling, networking, and challenging self-doubt, you’re equipping yourself with the tools needed to embrace new paths. Your career reinvention journey is unique, and it’s okay to take things one step at a time. Believe in your abilities, celebrate your achievements, and know that your determination will guide you toward a future filled with fulfilment and success. Now, it’s time to take that first step – set your goals, reach out to your support network and embark on your own transformative journey.  

To kickstart your journey here are my tips in a nutshell:-

Set Your Goals: Reflect on all your skills, interests and past work experience.  Set clear and achievable goals for your career reinvention journey.

Connect and Network: Join online communities and networking events relevant to your new interests. Building connections can open doors to new opportunities.

Explore Learning Opportunities: Investigate online courses and resources that can help you up-skill and acquire the knowledge needed for your desired career path.

Challenge Self-Doubt: When self-doubt arises, remember the strategies discussed in this blog. Challenge negative thoughts and embrace your strengths.

Reach Out: Connect with a mentor, coach, or fellow expat mother who has successfully navigated a career reinvention. Their insights can be invaluable.

I can’t reiterate enough that your journey is unique. Every step you take brings you closer to your reinvented career path.  Have fun and enjoy the journey of empowering yourself to create the future “YOU” you envision. 

Explore Mel Stahl’s 1-to-1 coaching packages or get in touch to find out how she can support you during a career transition as an expat mother.

Read more about Mel’s journey to becoming a Transformational Life Coach and how coaching can help with adapting to life in a new country.

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