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Make a new plan Stan: An exercise in creating an expat life

By Karla Freeman

Now that you’re an expat, how do you plan a life in Cuenca? Do you try to do the same things you did in your home country? Or, do you understand the need to Capture karlaadapt?

For some advice, let’s turn to Paul Simon’s 1975 song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” which in our case refers to leaving an old life and culture.

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”

The problem is all inside your head

She said to me

The answer is easy if you

Take it logically

I’d like to help you in your struggle

To be free

There must be fifty ways

To leave your lover

For more of the lyrics, click here.

So, how do you leave that old lover — that old way of life — and embracchl karla piee a new one?

Here’s a simple exercise that shows you how. It also shows you how to establish new goals for your life. I call it the “pie process.”

  1. Make a list of eight to 10 areas of your life as an expat that you consider most important.
  2. Take a sheet of paper and draw a circle – or a pie. Then divide the pie into slices. Try not to exceed eight to ten.
  3. Label each slice with one of your “most important” things. Then look at each one and ascribe a number between one and 10 for its importance in your life, one being the most important. For example, if catching the bus (Gus) is important to you, but not at the top of your list, you might rank it eight or nine.
  4. Then, one at a time, ask how much time and energy you spend for each area of importance. Is the time and energy invested consistent with the ranking that you’ve assigned it?
  5. Now you have a map for your life and can consider making time and energy adjustments where necessary. Maybe you are happy with your life except for one important thing you’ve neglected. Or, you might decide you need to make changes to your ranking.
  6. Then comes the fun part. Pick an area, or areas, to work on. Suppose it’s Spanish (did I say that?). What simple actions can you take to put more emphasis on learning your new language. Maybe it’s a simple thing like writing down one Spanish word a day in a notebook, learning its definition and then using it in a conversation. Warning: Don’t try to do too much too soon (that’s a set-up for failure). Make your goals simple and achievable.

So what do you put in your pie? It’s entirely up to you but some suggestions include learning Spanish, making new friends, exploring Ecuador, visiting indigenous communities, attending a symphony performance, or … hopping on a bus

We are all free to make our own map and decide how we follow it. So, don’t be coy Roy, and Joy.

Finally, learn to celebrate small changes.

We have all heard the phrase, “the only constant is change.” So, why do we resist it?

The good news is we are all capable of learning new things — and of changing. Did I know, seven years ago, that I would living in South America today? No way. It all started with a two-week trip to Buenos Aires to learn the tango. That’s when I had to revise my pie and make a new map.

What’s next for you? What’s your new challenge?

What’s your new plan. Stan?

Karla Freeman, expat, traveler, tango dancer, writer, currently lives in Cuenca and is the author of Creating Magic in Midlife: 101 Questions and Answers to Reinvent Your Work, Relationships and Life! Available on Amazon Kindle and at Carolina bookstore on Calle Hermano Miguel in Cuenca.

About the Author

Karla Freeman

Karla Freeman, expat, traveler, tango dancer, writer, currently lives in Cuenca and is the author of Creating Magic in Midlife: 101 Questions and Answers to Reinvent Your Work, Relationships and Life! Available on Amazon Kindle and at Carolina bookstore on Calle Hermano Miguel in Cuenca.

  • thanks, Karla. very sound advice.

  • Moving to Chile, Ma’am.

  • Nice article!

  • Juanita Ruth One

    I enjoy your writing, Karla, but you need a better picture to post. You are so much cuter than that blurry image!

  • Karla, you rock!

  • Jeanne Chiang

    Buena charla, Karla.

  • Nice framework. As someone planning a move to Cuenca I’ll start working on that pie.