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Expat Articles » To Work or Not To Work?


By Margarita Gokun Silver, Expatriate & Cross-Cultural Coach and creator of the Expat Women Academy

Accompanying SpouseTo work or not to work?

Why do we work?

What makes us want to work?

And what makes us feel sad when we don’t work?

In today’s economic reality, some of us may answer the above questions with a simple “I have to put food on the table and provide for my family” answer. And while this is a very valid point, I am not going to focus on money being the reason for work in this blog post. Instead, I want to talk about what motivates us to have professional lives.

For many accompanying spouses the reality is such that we don’t have to work. Don’t have as in don’t-have-the-necessity-of-having-the-additional-income-in-the-family for the family to live comfortably. Yet many of us long to have a professional life abroad, especially if we had to leave out jobs behind, when we moved.

So what motivates us to long for it?

Desire to grow?


Fears (like the fear of not having something to do with our time or the fear of not being enough or the fear of being perceived as someone lazy or the fear of losing ourselves)?

How often do we really know what’s motivating us? How often do we take the time to find out?

The reason I bring this up is that sometimes we want to work for all the wrong reasons – and we suffer internally (if we cannot work) for all the wrong reasons. So until we shine a bright light on our real motivators for wanting work, we’ll continue holding onto the old habits and old attitudes towards work, even if those are not working out for us.

Here is one exercise to help you learn your real motivators for wanting a professional life: 

Answer the following questions:

All humans can divided into those who mainly get motivated by “away” factors, those that mainly get motivated by “toward” factors, and those who get motivated by both.

The “away” factors sound similar to this:

The “toward” factors sound similar to this:

Looking at your answers to questions above, gauge whether or not you are motivated mainly by “away” factors, “towards” factors, or both. Usually the “away” factors, while having a place in our lives, don’t last and are not as compelling as the “toward” factors. The “away” factors uncover our saboteur thinking and provide a negative-energy-filled pull towards having a career. How valid is that thinking in your life now? And what would you be without that thinking?

So what is at the heart of you wanting to work and have a career overseas?


© Margarita Gokun Silver

About the Author

Margarita Gokun Silver is an Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Coach, and the creator of the Expat Women Academy -- a program that provides expat women with strategies to overcome expatriate challenges. She is also the Founder and President of Global Coach Center and Global Coach Center Academy.