INSPIRED IDEAS: Fiona Harrold, LIFE COACH

Planning a great life
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Hi Jeanine. One thing is abundantly clear – Brits are abandoning dear old Blighty as never before. Switch on the TV and every channel has its own Get -a-New-Life-Abroad themed programme. Pick up a tabloid or broadsheet newspaper and you'll find stories of Brits leaving and never looking back. It sounds idyllic. But recently I've spotted articles in those same papers, often by the same writers, who yearn to return! Their bucolic bliss has become boring, and they miss the grit and grind of urban Britain. I kid you not. The message is to be careful, very careful. Don't be seduced by the sunny pictures of everlasting happiness in another country. Your best move may be a new life abroad or it may be a new life here. Let's think it through:

1. What's wrong with your life here? Why the restlessness? There's a saying that you can go to the other side of the world but you'd still find you there. Don't run to someplace else expecting it to transport you to instant bliss. Check whether you're looking for an easy fix of fulfilment without identifying what it is that you really hunger after. Imagine how awful it would be to go through the upheaval of a move and still feel unsettled. I may sound like an agent provocateur, but I have good intentions!

2. What do you want from a move? What do you hope a move will leave you feeling? What's stopping you from achieving that feeling here? How do you see your lifestyle changing? Will you turn into a different person? I'm not trying to put you off moving, but I want you to be clear about your motives. For example, if you envisage a move to a sunny new country will make you more sociable and popular; if you think you'll have a personality transplant as you step off the plane, think again. If you want to make changes to yourself, make them here and now, and take responsibility for those changes. Don't expect the relocation to turn you into a different, better, brighter person. That's up to you.

3. Evaluate your relationship. How strong is it? How well does it stand up to pressure? What happens in a crisis? Are you naturally optimistic and is he more of a pessimist, as I suspect? Assume that all change is stressful, however exciting. Will the challenge of a relocation work or could the added pressure pull you apart? They may feel horribly uncomfortable questions to address, but it's nothing compared to the discomfort of splitting up in a foreign country. Forewarned is forearmed. Know now – can your relationship take the strain?

4. Forget about statistics. Never mind how many people are leaving Britain, staying or returning. What matters is what's right for you. Firstly, if you want to convince your partner that this could be more than a dream, prepare a written, researched game plan. Identify what you would both do there, analyse the demand, pinpoint the market and get some hard facts and figures on paper. If you can't convince him then either your plan is flawed or he simply doesn't want to go. This is the time to decide whether you want to go it alone. What matters most, him or moving abroad?

5. Plan, plan, plan. If you decide to go, alone or together, plan to succeed. The Number One rule is learn the language. Go and spend time in your dream location when it's winter there and see how it feels. Meet people, talk to expats and take their advice. And, remember, you can always change your mind and come home again. The worst-case scenario is you'll have met some new people, got a few new experiences under your belt and come to appreciate dear old England all the more.

SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO ME AT lifecoach@independent.co.uk . NO PROBLEM IS TOO BIG OR SMALL. The first 50 e-mails will receive a Fiona Harrold Online Life Coaching Course of their choice. Please visit www.independent.co.uk/legal for terms and conditions. Fiona Harrold is author of several self-help books including The 10-minute Life Coach, Hodder Mobius, £6.99; www.fionaharrold.com

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