#026 - How to make a level-headed decision in an emotionally charged situation.

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Nic: Well, Thank you for being here. I'm so excited to have you, and I'm so excited to start off this new season and it is all about making a change and what it takes to make good changes in our lives. To start that off with you. Welcome to the homework having podcast.

Katherine: Thank you so much for having me. I actually didn't know I'm going to be the first one of the seasons. I am very honored to be able to do that.

Nic: Well, we've had a chat before, as I always have with all of my guests. And when we talked, we talked about what it takes to make decisions in times of emotional turbulences? So how do we make a sound decision that will change our lives profoundly when there is a lot of unknown variables and in order to introduce you to my listeners, I found you on Instagram because you answer the question, which sounds so seemingly simple.

and that is the question. Should I stay, or should I go? And we're referring here to ex-pats and the life that they built abroad and at some point. That question comes up because usually when we, as aspects, we do go abroad, we always say the beauty of an adventure is that you don't know upfront where the journey will take you, but at some point of this journey that ease of let's see how it goes.

Let's see where it takes us is not enough anymore, or the perception of what used to be easy shifts into uncertainty or shifts into the perception of wait, I'm living with lack. There's something that I don't have enough of and I need to change direction. And what direction should I change into next?

So this is where the question comes in. Should I stay, or should I go? And again, it's seemingly simple, but. It involves to consider so much, and this is what we want to talk about today. So, the decision-making process is the first step in a whole process that involves change.

My first question would be, what is the goal for your client? What do they want to get out of working with you?

Katherine: I think the goal is slightly different for everyone. They're all aspiring towards, uh, the perfect life for them. And what that means for them is very individual of course, but, How they end up working with me is usually to help them clarity either by way of understanding, what is that perfect life by way of, um, addressing their limiting beliefs about whether they can actually achieve it, uh, as well as finding emotional support about going through some big changes in order to achieve that.

Sometimes that means staying abroad or moving to another country or moving back home. So there's a lot of, um, a lot about aspiring towards what you want, but then realizing you need to do something about it and then not being ready to make it yet. But knowing that you wanted to, at least you would like to.

And so that's how everyone ends up, uh, ends up working with me, but their stories are of course always different and have a lot of contextual factors and individual factors, uh, involved.

Nic: Okay. That's what I expected. Like what people want from working with you is clarity. Just like what people want when they work with me, is confidence. Right. And knowing that they will be able to do that.

And you are a step ahead of that. It's like clarity of what it is that I actually want. So I was wondering, Is there like a pattern or a certain similarity when you look at the overall amount of your clients, like, is There, a pattern of events that happened in their life that led them to being dissatisfied with where they are now or questioning or?

yeah. So maybe a similar train of thought prior to coming to you. 

Katherine: There definitely seems to be. And then that will be the same in whatever sort of question or topic that we would talk about. But in my case, what I see is that a, um, they're still in the process of understanding themselves , regardless of age. Um, so they've, they've changed a lot or they're starting to understand themselves better or realizing something new about themselves.

So they're kind of in this phase of, uh, transition and confusion and not quite sure where to go and what to hold onto and what to do. Uh, then there's people who have had a rough time settling abroad, whether that's the first time, second time, a third time, it doesn't matter. But there, whether conscious or unconscious expectations haven't been met, then they've started to question.

Whether, uh, staying where they are is the right thing to do. And, you know, whether they then think about moving back somewhere or moving back home or somewhere new it, really depends. But, I think the common thing for most is that they want some sort of familiarity and that's where my third group comes in mind as well.

So they've had something, uh, emotionally very disturbing or, you know, a boat rocking event happened to them, whether that's a breakup, a job situation, not working out, uh, friends leaving. So something that, you know, really affects them emotionally and they want some, you know, comfort and familiarity. And, and that's when people often start thinking about moving back home, for instance.

There are definitely patterns. Uh, there are always nuances to every situation, they're are. Yeah. Uh, reasons why people find themselves in, in, in that questioning mode of, should I stay or.

Nic: Okay. So let me sum that quickly up. That sounds like there is an expectation. Before going abroad. that is coupled with excitement or with fear. It does matter. Like there is, there is a certain set of beliefs. then there is a moment of dissolution and leading them to question themselves and then they realize that they need to rebuilt, confidence.

They need to rebuild expectations and they need to rebuild a better foundation, I would say on how to make the next decision. Is that correct?

Katherine: I say so actually I can actually relate to that summary. I have to say, because you know, the state, the situation or the state of mind that they come to me, like, they're, they're not looking back on that whole experience. Uh, and then I'm able to plop them into a perfect line of this is how it's gone for them.

I can go up and down in all sorts of unpredictable ways. If I understood you correctly at describing the culture shock phase. And even that can be very different to how people experience it. My own personal experience from country to country has been completely different. Uh, so I can say what they've experienced in terms of those phases before they've come to me.

But those are the reasons that I, that I listed before that makes them, strongly start to think whether they should stay or go, or if they want their future to look the way it has been.

Nic: Yeah, no, , I think cultures. What do we expect to happen? I've had another episode with somebody who helps expats, stay where they are. And, she explained to me the term of cultural grief, which is then the following step. When you just realize that, it's not the shock about where you are right now.

That's making you doubt, but the realization that you will not have what you left behind. So it's the grief of the life that you consciously decided not to have in you, you didn't expect to grieve. Um, yeah, but interesting. I get that. I mean, the reasons for the journeys. Relatable as they are, between experts because the different phases are the same, but the individual experience is always different.

Of course. So tell me why can't they make a decision on their own? Why do they need you? 

Katherine: Well, I guess I can't speak for them. This, this, this is sort of my own interpretation, but not that they can't make a decision. They're perfectly capable people. Um, and they've made plenty of decisions before meeting me. Right. But something about this decision makes them more afraid than, than.

So people are not afraid to make decisions per se, and that's not what gets them stuck. It's the consequences that they're afraid of. and the kind of consequences that they're afraid of is again, sort of different, but they do fall into some sort of pattern. Um, they can be afraid of the unknown.

So what if it's worse? What if, if I move or stay, it will be worse or just as bad. People want a guarantee that things will be great before they even commit to something. Um, they can be afraid of the past repeating itself, especially if they've had a bad experience, whether that's abroad or back home or somewhere else.

And they haven't fully resolved it for themselves emotionally. Um, they can be afraid of not having their dreams and hopes come true because they don't think that they are worthy of them or are capable of achieving them. Um, they can be afraid of making a choice that they'll regret because maybe they will change in the future.

And they're trying to sort of predict the future. Um, or, or they're not entirely sure how they've changed now and then what will make them happiest in the future. So, and you know, it can be a variation of those all in one as well. a lot of the, my task is sort of become a detective of what's that fear.

What is it that you're the most afraid of? And let's work on that. Let's dismantle its power over that person because they're perfectly capable of making decisions. It's just something about this one. That's making it a bit, bit harder for them.

Nic: Right. So what would you say, is there some kind of process I'm just reflecting back to the process that I have with my clients. And so for me, for example, step one is always to identify what is right now, what are the cornerstones or the factors that we need to consider, And. step number two is after we have set the parameters , imagine building a house and you have to put the pegs in where are you going to dig the hole?

And you were going to pour your foundation. And at the beginning, we set those cornerstones very loosely, those packs, because it's a first estimation, but what would be some of the things to consider? What are the usual things people say, I can't make a decision because, and then they give you the,yada yada, yada, and dose had the points that need to be covered that are really important. 

Katherine: That really depends. I have to say. Um, and this is where, you know, even if the emotional side of things is where I can see the patterns, this is where the differences come in, what are the contextual things or factors that they are struggling with and want to achieve, or that are influencing that.

Or, or freedom to make a choice. so it can really range from, am not happy with my job or, you know, I'm worried about my kids growing up abroad, uh, or, um, we have until next Friday to make a decision because then the borders will be closed. You know, it can be from one extreme to the other. I, I can't say that there are usual reasons in those terms.

Um, but the first step for me is always what is happening for you right now? has brought on this, uh, intense confusion for you right now, so that I can start teasing out? What is it that you're afraid of? What is affecting you the most and what do you need? And in this, the answer actually answers the question of, should you stay or go, or is it actually a matter of taking time for you.

Or maybe finding another job or maybe realizing that some dreams were not yours to begin with. It's something else that you want, but you've bought the idea that this is the dream you should want. So it can really range really different depending on the person. So I don't even, probably I don't even promote the fact that they need to decide to or go, but rather go deeper within to understand what's really happening for them.

Uh, we start making any decisions or discussing, uh, that side of.

Nic: Well, thank you for clarifying this because I just, well, I heard you talk now. I realized I didn't take the factor of urgency of decision into account because when I work with my clients, There is no urgency. They have decided they want to stay and they want to make it work. And some are more impatient than others, but there is no deadline.

And while we were talking, I was just like, yeah. Right. Like I didn't even consider that. So thank you for clarifying this. Um, so I was wondering about another thing that comes up with change. And, one thing that I stumble upon, not always, but very often is that we automatically assume that the process of change is a finite process and that there are, clear phases, like there's a before the, before is right now, I'm unhappy or the situation is not great. of some sort, then there's a, during that takes, work, what needs to be done in order to change. and obviously in my case, very simply that's the renovation or that's the planning process. And then what do I need to nest and build my home?

And then there's an after. And in the, after obviously everybody's expecting to be happy or at least that this situation will be better. Right. And that always brings me back to the very definition of design, design is at its core, the act of making existing things better and what I noticed.

So it's what we always expected. It's a finite process and then frustration or impatience happens when there is no end in sight. For some reason they expected it's going to be, phase a phase B Facey and it's not, and in my case, they want to finally feel rooted and they do not realize that their own actions, they keep themselves in that temporary limbo status because they are not making a decision.

So I was wondering, if you could speak to that, like what is change and, is it a finite process or is there phases to it? What would.

Katherine: Well, actually, I don't think I have much to add because I was nodding all the way through, as you were explaining how, how you would conceptualize or explain change. Um, it's, it's, it's exactly what I, what I see and personally believe as well, but perhaps the thought I would add to that is, uh, this very human need for certainty and control, or at least this at least esteeming.

Uh, idea that we have control. I think it ties in well with this idea that change could be finite. It isn't, we changed our entire life and we can never predict in what directions we will change as human beings, how life around us will force us to change, or when we will feel the need to make a big change ourselves.

And, and so it's, uh, I think it's more of a philosophical, uh, struggle that are not ready to have a constant process of change and reinvention. And there's no end in sight and depending on your nature and how much you want certainty and frameworks and control, you're either going to thrive with that mindset or you're going to struggle with that mindset.

Uh, and that really depends again.

Nic: Yeah, no, I like that. Um, definitely the biggest satisfaction always comes from doing, getting into action and B knowing that certainty, like I'm in control, I made the decision, I'm fine. And then even if it takes longer, you know what's going on. but maybe circling back to the, to the point of impatience, and the decision-making process.

How do we know if we have given ourselves enough time or yeah. How do we know that It's time to make a new decision?

Katherine: It's a hard one to answer. Um, Because I hate myself. I'm constantly saying it depends. Right. But it's because I see such, uh, such different personalities and ways of approaching life that I, it's hard for me to say that there's one size or one way to identify that moment for everyone. Um, for some people it's, it's about just, it sounds cliche, but you just know like you're pushed against the wall, have a gun to your head and you're like, it.

It's going to be hard, but that's the answer. And then they will do it for others. They stay longer in that back and forth, uh, thought process, feeling the way through it or thinking their way through a bit of both. Um, and then when they've had enough, they're like, you know what, just going to do this.

Like I just can't anymore. Um, then there are others who don't think at all that, like, you know what, I don't like this I'm going to do it. That's it. So it's hard to say, right. would be, we, it depends on, I also believe that it depends on the subject, maybe with something that's less emotional, like your work or Domino's, you know, in different areas, you can display different ways of going about making that decision.

And, um, and maybe even during your lifetime, at some, during some phases of your life, you're more sort of risk averse and more considerate. Well, perhaps when you're younger, you're like, you know what? It doesn't matter. I'll just do this and that. Then I'll go with the flow. Or when you have kids who you might be more, more worried you would have otherwise been earlier in your life.

And so you think more in sync longer, because there are so many factors involved. So, yeah, it's a non-answer I think.

Nic: Um, yeah. While I was putting my Question here in front of you and listening to you, it came to my mind that often the dissatisfaction that we experience with living abroad is that we assume that the word changes we can just exchange it. It's the same as adaptation, right? And the adaptation phase and that, at least with my clients very often, they know, you go abroad, you know, there will be a culture shock, you know, that you have to adapt.

But when all my God, when will I finally feel like this? Is it like, when have I stopped adapting? When have I rooted myself. And that is sometimes, maybe the mistake that we'd sometimes interchange. And we think like, ah, what I need to change about myself is just a one time thing.

And that's why we think in phases, when we say art, it's a change, but in reality, we need to adapt. And that adaptation that, tuning in that is a constant, process. So, yeah. And then again, that ties in with by not making a decision, they keep themselves in that limbo phase in that.

Adaptation phase because they not made a decision what they are finally adapting to, and that is why they feel so torn. so another question from me would be, how much am I willing to invest to spend or to do to back my decision. and that plays into the whole idea of am I willing to be actively creating or am I just passively waiting for things to happen

is that something that your clients face as well? The process of, should I stay, should I go, I always have to, I have to put an emphasis on whatever decision you will take, there needs to be action following. And that action needs to be backed by an investment of some sort.

Katherine: Question to be honest, it felt like it was something more. To the kind of design work that you do. Um, so it didn't immediately spring any thoughts into my head.

Nic: okay, all right, now it was just something that came into my mind. sometimes it's just the willingness to get into action and to follow up. Or sometimes it's just, if the indecision is there and you do not have all the factors, you don't have all the information, you need to be willing to say okay, I clearly don't know.

I could imagine, for example, in your case, if somebody is unhappy with the work situation, And they have not asked a question at work they're superior, or I don't know HR, like what are my options for the future? is there a future for me, where I could rise or where I could change into a different department, let's say, and then they realize, okay, I need to take action first.

I need to make a commitment and I need to invest some energy first before I even can take the decision of what I want to do. And I could imagine that some people are like, you know what I mean, too scared to ask, or I don't even want to go into this direct. 

Katherine: Well the kind of scenario that you've just describing, not the work one specifically, but, um, people let's say consciously or unconsciously refusing to take action or at least informing themselves on what their options are. I think there's a very human, uh, fear behind it. And that's actually the best way I could put it is that the evil that you know is better than the devil that you don't know.

And there's comfort in being in this indecision, because if I did make a decision then what, I don't know how it's going to be. afraid to find out how it's going to be. afraid to step into that unknown. And so I have, uh, all my, you know, I have been there plenty of times in my life where I know I need to make a change God damn it.

I'm not ready for it. I know I'm not happy in this, but at least it's familiar. And so in that. It's understandable. Why on the outside it looks like, you know, all you need to do is decide, emotionally you need to get to that point and you will need all the, the time that you will simply need.

And no one can say how long that is. So I completely agree with you on a philosophical level that, you know, if you're indecisive inform yourself, take action, the emotional side of things that will take time, uh, to get to that point. And for some, it means years for some, it means stays for some, it means hours.

And, you know, we are all on different paths and different journeys. And, um, we should never compare in that sense, um, whether, you know, how fast one or the other is taking action or not, they're working through something in order to get to that 0.1 day.

Nic: right. Well then let's talk about that because you mentioned fear. And I remember, in our conversation that we had last time you talked about the self-help toolkit on how to deal, be aware of how can I deal with a situation if it happens? 

I think indecision in general. It's just often rooted in fear or in lack of confidence and self. Right. So what kind of fears come up or the other question? Every project of change requires some level of courage. So the opposite of fear is card. So what kind of courage do we need in order to make a decision?

Nic: I think there's some things that, we need to confront. So Either from the angle of fear or the angle of courage, what would you say? What kind of fears come up or what kind of courage is needed to make a sound decision in an emotional situation?

Katherine: Okay, well, one thing I have to say, you should never try and make a decision when you're emotional. That's not a good idea. Never a good idea. So I think one thing that needs to be in that toolkit is, is your ability to ground yourself, to do, to get to a calm place within yourself. you even try to make any sort of decision that applies to stay, you're going to your job to relationships, to what you're going to have for breakfast.

So that's one thing, knowing how to soothe yourself when you're emotional, uh, in terms of fears. I didn't mention that before, but I'll mention them again it's the fear of the unknown what will happen. If I make this decision, will it make, give me the happiness I want.

The fear of past repeating itself, if we've had paddock bad experiences, there's fear of not having a dreams and hopes true one day, and then there's a fear of, of making a decision that they'll regret. So then on the flip side, what kind of courage do you need? Well, I, again, it's a, I think it's a personal philosophy question, but my take on it is that, uh, you need to have faith in yourself that no matter what you decide, you're going to be fine because you know how to take care of yourself, you know how to make good decisions.

You, you know, what you want. You've always got that. not light at the end, that sound all. But, uh, what is that like called the maritime lights, the lighthouse, the lighthouse. Thank you. You've got the lighthouse there, guiding you through the choppy waters, right. And you know, where you going and everything else is just out of the process.

But you know where you want. Uh, so it's, it's also clarity about who you are, what you need, where you're going, and these things can change. Like in terms of that lighthouse, like it can take new shapes and, and suddenly you realize, oh, another lighthouse is actually what I really want now. Um, all of that's fine, but all along, you need to have faith in yourself and be your own best friend.

Of course, it's harder when you have a family, because then you all have different ways of dealing with situations. And then when you have little kids there, they're just learning about how to deal with life and what is this thing called life? And so there's, there's a lot more, uh, emotional volatility and, and ways of with, uh, change and having to be courageous.

That's harder to manage them when you're just by yourself being just by yourself, having to do all this, it's also quite hard, but you know, the more people you add, the more complicated it gets us as well. Yeah. So I would say those are my, my, uh, that will be my summary on what's their fears. And what kinds of courage, are needed to have in your, in your tool?

Nic: Right. Yeah, I think we're drifting are really into the, into the topic of defining the identity of yourself, who you are, and then use that as a, groan for decision-making versus what we said earlier, what are the outside 

circumstances? what can I count on? What is loose, and then make a decision.

So th that's, uh, that's a different approach or a dad is maybe not different. Maybe it's just an addition, deciding that I need some kind of other anchoring, of other method. And I was just wondering, does it happen to people are surprised. By what comes up during their journey working with, you?

Katherine: surprised that it happens every single time. Yeah, definitely. So a lot of the times I feel like I'm not actually there to help them decide whether to stay or go, but helps them to identify what is it that they're lacking in their life and how can they best meet that lack. and it's, it's not always about moving the country.

In fact, most of the time, it's not about moving at all. It's not about that. Um, it, it always surprises me, but I'm also always happy to see that they don't need to uproot themselves or, or they can if they want to, but it's all for the, you know, the most beautiful reasons and they should actually go for it.

They're just doubting if they can actually make it happen and they just need that little push and, and, then they're off, you know, flying, um, metaphorically and literally then.

Nic: It's interesting that you're saying this, because with me, it's exactly the same thing just from the other, from the other. Spectrum that people think that once they move, whatever used to be home, like the memory of home of how they grew up, that is one definition of home. And then they're like, oh, I'm going to do life differently.

And they often, very often do life very differently. but then.

are surprised that some things stay exactly the same. And it's just a realization that they didn't have to basically flee or run away from where they were, because their issues, they travel with them. And it's like, oh, it's not, it's not a place thing.

It's a me thing. And so it's exactly the same thing. Just, just the other way, but it runs into exactly the same thing. It's interesting. Um, One thing that comes up for my clients a lot, since they're living in different culture, they grew up in culture, a culture B it's this whole topic of, cultural awareness.

And they're very, very aware, I always use the same example just for example sake, but I'm Spanish. I grew up in Spain and now I live in Sweden and they're very aware of the differences and what they sometimes do not realize, or that, you know, really need to push is, aid.

They feel often the pressure that they need to be a good, ex-pat the good immigrant, the, the norm conform. They want to fit in. They want. They want to be part of this new society. And they, didn't set certain boundaries. They didn't realize that certain boundaries were still needed and at the same time.

It's basically comes down to a question of loyalty. They feel like if they don't adapt and don't take everything on and live, let's say the Swedish way instead of the Spanish way, um, they're being in a bad expert or they're not being loyal to the decision that they made, that they will integrate.

They're not loyal to the decision of, of integrating. And then at the same time, when they meet family from back home, it's this whole topic of loyalty of who have you become, like you were part of us, but so many things are different and they feel torn between the cultures and the. Yeah, for lack of better word, like I can just call it loyalty right now.

And that is something that you can take on as much as you want, and you are free at least in your, inside your home, right? Because I feel in your workplace, certain things are expected culturally, maybe that are different in Sweden than they are in Spain. but at home you are free to decide how you do home. You are absolutely free to make your own cocktails and you are absolutely also free to just pick the best fruit to make your cocktail. Right. You don't have to say, oh yeah. If I take this, then I also have to do this. And even though they understand it, Intellectually emotionally data's is really a process.

When we go into that, it's just like, you're right. I do not have, I do not have to do this. so, that is where the biggest part of surprise usually comes in when I work with my clients. yeah. So how important is cultural awareness and your own set of boundaries? What would you say in the decision-making of, should I stay or should I go. 

Katherine: Hm, that's an interesting question. And as I was listening, I could recognize that, uh, from a completely different angle, um,

Yeah. So what you call loyalty? I will call social conditioning. Um, and so it's not necessarily, and I think it plays out as I was listening. I think it plays out differently when we are talking something about something like a home, but when it comes to something like making a decision about your life, uh, the closest term I would use is social conditioning.

So it's this idea of whether you should have a house or whether it should be married by a certain point or what kind of job you need to have. And that's not necessarily rooted to the culture of the country that you're from, more so the communities that you've grown up in, whether that's your school, your family, your peers, at the higher education, for instance, that you've got, um, all these things.

They're the different subcultures that have influenced your idea of how you should be. But then the question is, is that who you want to do. Right. This that, it comes to the same point that you ended up on you don't need to do all these things that you've seen around you in this different communities.

You really don't need to. But of course, it takes a lot of courage to go against the current state I've been in your life. So that if you don't want to get married, you don't have to get married. you don't want to, you know, live in the suburbs, do you don't have to do that. you really like working in something that your peers think is stupid, you can still do that because it makes you happy.

Right? it's kind of the same thing, but it's not so much about, at least not in my, my experience that it's about loyalty. It's just that we grow up in a certain environment and then we just take it on because we don't know that actually do it in a different way. You need someone, for instance, like you or me to say, you know what, it's okay.

If you don't, don't don't want to do it that way. Here's your permission slip. And it's, you know, sometimes all they need. Um, and then, you know, and then they open up and all these, the world of opportunities opens up for them that they didn't dare to consider before. So, you know, whether or not that plays into deciding whether you should stay or go well, again, I don't necessarily promote that you need to leave the country or stay.

So it can often mean that you simply need to have a closer look at what you really want to do professionally or kind of, kind of person you want to share your life with or whether you're, you know, being the best person that you want to be every single day. So it's, yeah, it's not always really about deciding whether you want to stay at.

Nic: Yeah. I always say in the end, when it comes to mind, MACI, Building a home people think interior design or designing a home is about stuff on funny spent colors. And it's not. It's about the relationships that we have inside home because you can have the most beautiful styled home and still be miserable because you know, the life that is happening within is not what you want.

And in my case, the one thing we're dealing with is relationship. Then the relationship you have to yourself and the relationships you want to have with other people, like who do you let into your home? And that's why I guess use the word loyalty because, when you're an ex-pat, your family is not part of your daily life anymore.

And then, the bigger, the physical distance, the easier it is, To see then also, the obvious changes to outside to changes and then you come and visit somebody and it's like, huh, you've changed so much. And, I think it is the knowing that if you would have not changed, you would have been a lot more, you would have stayed a lot more similar to me because there's a predictability in staying, right.

there's a knowing if I would have stayed in my passport country, somebody with my background, with my education, there is this, roughly predictable path of how, this will end up. Right. Roughly of course, then life happens and there's, and there's unpredictabilities in, in every life, but all of that changes when you are an ex-pat. And I then imagine in that situation of indecision of, do I want to stay, do I want to go home or do I want to go into a different third country? That place all into it. 

Uh, it hasn't really come up that way. Really? Yeah. Interests and no. 

Katherine: say it's, I can easily see how it would come up for you. Like in terms of working with experts and them building their home. And I was, you know, running this image or this cartoon through my head of, of someone of me visiting a friend that I, you know, that left the country and then set on like, oh, these are the people that you hang with, or this is the life you lead.

And having that sort of jarring moment of. I don't recognize you anymore so I can see that, but it has not come up like that in, in, in my conversations. I mean, again, it's more about family expecting you to come back, like not taking it seriously that you're abroad or may that you may even want to be there for the rest of your life or for a long time and have your family, whoever have kids there and race them there.

So it's more about expectations, placed upon the person that's, you know, the experts, uh, of, you know, growing up already. Uh, but yeah, than that, I there's, there was nothing that came to my mind, actually. That's very interesting.

Nic: Cool. Well, it's always interesting.

You know, when, when I first connect with other experts, it's always like, we see the similarities, there's this process of connecting with people. If you meet with another expert, who's had the same but different experience as in, coming as somebody else to a different culture, there is there's this relation that we cannot, yes, I have not had exactly the same experience, but I know what you're talking about.

Like, it's the patterns that we can, relate to the adapting phase, the trying to find yourself and. So it's really easy amongst ex-pats even though, be completely different cultures and living in different cultures to find commonalities just as, is really easy to see the differences that when you are the expert in a country, like I'm right now in Switzerland, like, oh yeah, Switzerland is So close to my passport country, but at the same time, it's so different.

It's so easy to say like, oh, I'm not like the Swiss. Right. And I know that a lot of experts have that as a, as a commonality. Like, I know what it's like to say other than the local, but I'm so similar to you even though. you're German, you're Estonian, you live in Denmark. I live in Switzerland. even though the circumstances are so different, the experience, is similar.

How does this? It is interesting. Like, I could expand on that, but I would like, you to, or it would like to touch on, uh, on, on a different subject, which is, when I found you and I was on Instagram, it struck me how clear you are always in your questions. And it struck me how clear you are with everything that you are, writing down on your blog.

Yeah. I think it's very tight knit. And I remember when we talked first, I asked you, do you think that what you do in your day job plays into what you do on your blog?

Nic: And you said, oh, it's rather the other way around, but let's, touch on that if I got that. Right. So that's how I wrote it down. You have a PhD in strategic communication, you did work in change management, for the past years. And do you are now in service design, and that means what service design is, is you help organizations to define who their clients are, what their problem is and what the best solution the best help would be for that client, is that, is that.

Katherine: So quite, quite close. So I don't have a PhD in strategic communication, but I do have a PhD in, in, in change organization. So organizational behavior. Yeah. But, um, and, and service design. You also got it 95%, correct. But it's not so much about finding solutions or the best solutions only, but it's also a lot about, uh, innovation.

I hate that word, but I just said it.

Nic: Well, I have that written down. I didn't, it.

didn't come to that, but yes. Keep on talking. Yeah. Innovation. 

Katherine: No, no, I don't have anything else.

Nic: Okay. So PhD in, organizational change. Sorry. 

Katherine: So let's call it, uh, how people deal with change at work.

Nic: Okay. Change it to work. And your work to change management. Now it's service design and you deal a lot with innovation. I love that because that is exactly the point I wanted to get to. Um, can you define what innovation is? Because I think it's one of those words where everybody's like, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, I understand. Like home, like if I say the word home, everybody's like, oh yeah. But then what they see in their heads what my home is and what your home is, is completely different. What is innovation for you?

Katherine: Oh, yeah, there are different schools of thoughts. And, and if there are people listening who would deal with innovation, they may pass out at my definition, but my definition is actually quite simple. creating change and it's doing something new, but that new does not need to be something that the whole world will, know, uh, be surprised that it can be a small change.

It can be buttoned placed in the right place. It can be the right word set at the right time, as small as that can be innovation it can have a humongous effect on how our clients or customers or, or a normal citizen experiences, uh, of service or product. And so my job is to figure out what are those moments of opportunity that, um, a, whether a company or a public institution, uh, doesn't yet know about and that they could use in order to, to give a better customer experience, uh, to, to the people that are in touch with.

Nic: I love that. your definition of innovation, I call it a mind, blow that little, like, wait, what? Oh, I never seen it from that angle. Like when, you know, you hit a glass breaking and you're like, now that I've seen or heard it, I cannot unsee or I hear that. That is like, it changes your perspective forever.

I love that. So my initial degree is product industrial and interior design. Right. And one of my professors always said, the big thing about innovation, what people don't understand is that innovation for everybody who's not been working on the innovation is this huge surprise moment.

Like what w you know what we're just talking about, but innovation never falls into your lap. For the people who have not worked on that, like who, you know, then just observe the final product that change moment for them, it's a wow moment. I didn't expect it.

It happens. But for everybody who's involved into innovation, it's nothing but a surprise. It's something that you've been working on tirelessly. And then finally at some point things clicked and it made it work. So there's a lot of trial and error upfront of it. Would you agree with. 

Katherine: Yeah, definitely. There's um, and it's one of my biggest pet peeves about my day job, then it's that for people who haven't the chance to work with innovation, uh, or, you know, innovative approaches even, or work on something completely new, they, they expect it to be something so mind blowing. And so, ah, and amazing.

And, and it's a lot of work to actually kind of curb those, the expectations and realize, you know, what, maybe all that you need is a little tweak here and there and that's going to have a huge impact. And then they're like, oh, that's not innovation, but it is. Um, and so, but even figuring out what is that little thing is tireless.

I completely agree. It's trial and error. There's a lot of testing. There's a lot of that goes into it. There's a lot of trying to understand things from the perspective of the person that you're trying to serve And, and that's not sexy work. not innovative, but that is innovation.

It's hard work. And then, you know, if you're ended up being mind blown about, well, let me say that even differently, you know, uh, why do we love iPhones or MacBooks because it's so, so comfortable to use. It's so seamless. We don't even think about it, but to get to that point, that it's so seamless that you don't even think about is, is the result of a lot of hard work, a lot of trial and error, someone trying to understand what would make this the most co most comfortable thing.

So often enough in my, in the kinds of projects that I'm involved in any way. The most innovative solution is one that the customer will never even notice when they have no complaints. That's when I know I've done my job, right. that's not, that's not, you know, you, you shout from the rooftops and, and, you know, you have a big show about like apple does.

It's that's not how it is. It's so seamless that you don't even pay attention to it. That's, that's my idea of innovation. Right. Um, it's crazy.

Nic: Yeah, I know like I'm sitting here nodding and I'm trying not to do in order to ruin that recording. So I'm holding myself back, but it's funny. 

so you are having right now, those two angles, you are working with bigger organizations where, you're still working with individuals, but in the end, it's something, for the greater good, like there is, it's not about the person. And then you have also the private angle with what you do on your blog, that you do work with individuals or with couples.

Oh, with feminist, very small scale and very, big scale, vision of what innovation is. How does innovation play into. The decision-making for individuals. Would you say, like, I have my own little theory, but before I get into that, I w I just wanted to ask you a question. Where do you see parallels and where do you see that's completely true.

Katherine: Yeah, that's a, that's a really good question. And I think here it's important to, uh, bring back my definition of innovation, which is simply changing things up, doing something new in a way that works for whoever needs to work for the target group. Um, thing that I would say is very different between this personal way of doing innovation and a more.

Uh, let's say, uh, the, the business side of innovation this scale, of course. because on a personal level, it's only you being affected by change, or at least trying to go through some process of change, your partner and your family too, it doesn't really get that much bigger than that. But when it comes to organizations, you have to shift the mindsets, uh, of a whole department of our whole team, or perhaps even the whole organization.

you're dealing with the psychologies and the resistances, different ways of resisting change, uh, times, however many people you're involved with. one thing we forget with innovation is that there would be none if with everyone, all the people involved and what's common for all people that they're emotional beings that there's human psychology involved there.

And so a lot of my work, the similarities that I have on the private side of the. Th the personal kind of support that I offer and my business side of it, or they job part of it is the fact that I'm actually a psychologist for, for, for people. Even if they're part of a big team, I am, I do need to take into account the, the, how should I say the psychological ability of that leader of that whole team start on that journey of innovation, um, to go through that process to hold their hand throughout that whole process.

Uh, and, and the way, um, how should I say the success or the. Not the success, but how good that experience is going to be is dependent on how those people able to deal with change and the thought of uncertainty and not knowing how, what sort of great idea is going to come out of this. Um, and it's not that much different from what I do on a one-to-one basis, right?

It's it's also helping someone ready for change, whether that means changing your job actually, rather than moving to another country. Um, uh, so I lost my train of thought there now, anyways, the point, the point I wanted to make is that what I do on a one-to-one basis is not that different because I helped them to psychologically prepare for change, understand what they need and how they need to go about doing that.

But I'm not telling them how to do that. I'm. You know, helping them find those resources within themselves to go through that process. So perhaps that's one thing that's different from on the business side, where I am actively mentoring them and giving them the tools to, to up with something that is, you know, by some definition,

Nic: Yeah, my feeling was, or feeling expectations was like, when, when you work with organizations, it's about taking the personal emotion out, because it's not about you per se, as the person, inside the organization that has to be okay with that innovation. It's about, you have to do your job, even if you don't like it, if you like it, It's even better. but it's not about you as a person while I think, and it might be to simply said again. Um, but when it is about in your private title, it's all about you and it's all about embracing the, the emotion and it's all about, diving into it and acknowledging it and not taking out.

Would you say that. 

Katherine: No, I have to really disagree with you. because I'm not from that school of thinking when it comes to change management, that work, I, see people, you know, we go to work, we're still human beings. We may not be showing our personal side at work, but we're still human beings. We still have feelings. We have motivations.

We have ways of coping, ways of leading ways of being an employee and those all the back to how we are emotionally. And if we cut that out from the equation of dealing with change, effectively telling people you're all robots and you should be okay with whatever. my approach is actually the very opposite of that.

It's bringing in the emotions. I don't hold. One-on-one uh, therapy sessions with them. But I do address the fact that you know, what this space that we're in right now, it's supposed to be uncomfortable. It's okay. If you're going to react by resisting this as much as you want or getting angry at me, even though I'm not the one, you know, angry at, I allow all of those feelings because that's the only way we'll get through this.

Um, so I, I like to think, and that's what I employ my, work methods as well to bring in the emotional side, uh, at work.

Nic: Yeah, no, I, when you were talking right now, I totally realize where I, where I put my words wrong. Right. I didn't mean to say like, don't bring your emotions to work.

Um, it's about, I guess not taking it personal, like, have your emotions, voice does, but some emotional detachment still needs to happen in order to when you disagree but in the end, if it's not your decision to make, you still have to be okay with the decision being different than what you would have preferred. 

Katherine: I think it really depends on the situation we're talking about. Yeah. And I think the power relationships there, uh, sort of a are we talking about in a work isn't, isn't, uh, infinitely exciting and diverse, uh, of life. Um, and so in that sense, it's hard to make, um, you know, uh, uh, at least I find it hard to make a broad claim that you should be detached.

I think it's very hard to be that way. And if you put, if we put that up as a standard that you should always be detached and it will be very hard for people to be people. And I believe that people are people, so it's rather how can we, know, do the least amount of damage while being people and at work.

I think that's, that's sort of the approach that I think.

Nic: No, no. Yeah. Again, I have, I'm having one realization after another right now because, I was thinking about, work in my line of work, which is when I did work for architects and we would do branding or, commercial design. And then what I refer to as the, is the result that a certain person was in charge.

They want a certain result. Like they say, they want result a and then they make a decision that will not give them that result because that result, is client driven and not their personal preference, but they insist then. Right. But my personal preference is, and that's how we make it. And then you have to say, okay, what, you know, whatever, either you've convinced them and say like, is, is this for you?

Because then it's, we're more into residential design and it's your home. It's your personal preference because you are declined. Then we had to remind them and you are dealing with four completely different because my job is to deliver a good result as in who does it serve it?

And. In that case, the client of my client, but you're, you are working with people at work literally, and that was not. 

Katherine: Really actually, no, no. situation that you described is just my everyday life, basically where you have people being, people demanding that this should be done my way when that's not going to serve the client. That's not going to work for them, but perhaps where the, the difference in perspective that I have.

And I'm wondering all the long, if we have cultural differences in how we are at work here, I don't know it's exciting, but you know, I would interpret that person saying they should be my way, um, as a psychological resistance to change rather than, um, you know, some people having to deal with it and accept it.

And just like that, my, if I were in that situation, I would want to get to know. What is the motivation behind that person? Why is he or she pushing for that thing? Why is it hard for them to accept that the client wants this? And so that's where I go in and, and, you know, it become this little part time psychologist, basically.

Nic: No, I can do it. Yeah. We could totally have a conversation about that, for another hour. Um, I've got two more questions for you. A, because you mentioned it earlier, Going back to the prerequisites of what does it take to accept and deal with change better than others too? Is it mindset is a preparation.

What are the prerequisites, that we need to have, or that we need to work on or we need to be aware of, of making change easier. You, said that earlier that some people just deal with change better than others. 

Katherine: Yeah. Well, that's a fact. And depending on how good you are with change by nature, I do think some personality traits or, uh, how should I say, ways of being are more ingrained in us than others, and then it's a matter of, uh, do you want to, um, so let's say that you're someone that likes more certainty than change and uncertainty.

So then the question for you is do you want to put yourself in situations where it's very uncertain? So to a certain degree, you can control that, know, by not becoming an expert, for instance, that's one way to not, your nervous system, but then there are other things that you can control.

Like you get laid off or, or you get, you break up with someone, um, So when, when, when it's a change that you have no control over, then it needs to be, something that works for you for your nervous system. How can you Sue yourself to help yourself feel that you have things in control or that you can find some like philosophical relief that this too shall pass?

It's hard right now, but it will pass and I will feel better again, soon enough. And for those who are, you know, comfortable with change, or at least, uh, let's say more tolerant, think anyone's really comfortable with change. Um, I've learned that about myself that even though I do well with change it's because I just have a higher tolerance for uncertainty.

That's all it is, but I still need the same tools. Um, and that applies for someone else. That's more. Um, to change and comfortable with change as well that they need to have their own set of tools that will help them to deal with the uncertainty. And a lot of it comes down to faith things will work out or that you will make things, uh, work.

Uh, if, and when you need to, um, short, long story short, it's a lot about your, your mindset, knowing what you need to feel more safe and secure, then giving yourself that, whether that means with your friends or going home to your family for awhile, or keeping busy, you know, we all have different ways of coping basically.

And, and we need to, we need to know what those are and, and gave ourselves that sort of.

Nic: Yeah. Carol drag called said, the fixed mindset and the, the learner mindset, the way how you formulate things in your head and what you're convinced off or your belief. But then also I agree with you on the point that certain changes or our tolerance is so high because we just practice and it's not really a change anymore.

It's just a repetition of a change that we've been through. Right. So people are always, when I tell them I speak six different languages, they're like, what? And how do you always rethink everything? It's just like, it's not rethinking like the pattern of learning a new language did that five times before, right.

The exposing myself. And then finally going from theory of learning to the practice of actually speaking like the confidence yes, it is. To a certain degree. It's always exciting. And then I'm nervous. but I had the experience of exposing myself before and I've had the practice of not taking my mistakes too serious before.

So, there is a practice to that. So sometimes change has not really changed. It's just a repetition of.

a pattern in a slightly different version. 

Katherine: That's true. And I think that's a, that's a great point that I recognized that in my own life as well, that I'm not afraid to move to a new country. I'm not afraid to start a new job. I'm not afraid to start finding new friends because they've already done it a million times. So I kind of know the pattern to expect and the feelings to expect.

But then as I was thinking that, uh, well listening to you and thinking that, multitasking. Um, I also started, uh, I was reminded of cases where, you know, you are very experienced as a serial expert. Then you've been around the block a few times, but then a perfect storm of peers where there's just too many new things and some of them are too familiar and you're just, you're emotionally not prepared.

And then you're floored. And you think I've done this for so many years and suddenly I'm like, it's my first time living abroad. I've heard cases like that quite a lot as well. Yeah. And, and then it's like, oh, have I not learned anything? Of course you have, but it's a perfect storm. And you can be strong.

I'm good with change person all the time.

Nic: Oh, you make me laugh. So you call it a perfect storm. And I call it the Turkey on top, us dilemma with my clients.

So it's exactly the same thing. Again, same thing, completely different approach is that when I talk to my clients about change is like, do you want Turkey? Or do you want to top us? And the difference is, imagine you are inviting people to come to your house and you were inviting them for dinner.

If you cook a Turkey. Right that classic picture of the things, giving Turkey, that huge bird in the middle of the table, right? It's like a statement piece you come in and people, all they see is like, Ooh, that's a Turkey. Right. And everything that is around like the mashed potatoes and the carrots and the caramelized onions, it's just, they don't even see it there.

There's other stuff. But it's like, it's that one big thing. And you take it in and it's this wow moment whilst you can have people for dinner and then you can have tapas. And they're like, all they see is like little bolts of yeah. And then they can be like, okay, I don't see how this is going to fill us all.

There's just like 20 little bowls of little things that, don't look like much. And then when you sit down and you still have the same amount of food, but you don't realize it. And the atmosphere is completely, is completely different. And that's when I say to, you know, the little thing, they can create that perfect storm as Well, And when you have too many flavors coming at once, you are like, the Turkey looks like so much more and it could be, it can be a lot more, but you know, if you spice it up correctly with a lot of little dishes, then you create a different effect, any can still be overwhelming, or like, you know, then I go into another kind of psychology of how do people concentrate on the different, different things that are in the table.

you know, the atmosphere that it creates, but that's, it's so funny, you call it a perfect storm and I call it, Toposa Turkey And it's like, you think like, it's not much, it's here a little bit there a bit and that's, but that's what creates the perfect storm in like, well, actually that is too much for me.

And you couldn't have picked one thing out that tipped, the scale over to the, to the same way, it's like, oh, does this too much, but it definitely happened, but you cannot pick the one thing while it was so easy to say, wow, that Turkey was amazing. that's the one huge thing on the table.

Um, it really depends on what you focus on and, how much change you can handle at the time. Anyways. Interesting. My last question is actually, what have I forgotten to ask. 

When you think about the question.

Nic: Yeah, that's a question because there's always, like, I go 

into this talk With an agenda and I have expectations and a whole lot of assumptions of like, this is going this way and I'm actually quite happy to do you on quite some points that no, no, actually it's not like that at all.

For me, it's like, I learned something because then it's like, not me. Just, assuming wildly, no, like what is, when we talk about change and decision-making and emotions and making a rational or a good choice for yourself or with the agenda of, again, the best choice of yourself, like to exaggerated.

some last waste words? Or like, what have I forgotten to ask you? What comes to mind? What have we not spoken about?

Katherine: Well, what a great broad question. Some last wise words, you know, the, the one thing that, uh, you know, never fails to surprise me is that I just share my thoughts and my little philosophies of life that are very personal to me on, um, uh, through my blog at first and then Instagram and now to the coaching services as well.

And, and I never feel like I am terribly wise. It's just, it never, I never understand that, like that. Um, Um, most of the time, I don't remember the things I say. And then the next time the client says, oh, you said this thing last time. And it really changed things for me. Like, I don't even, it sounds really wise, but I don't remember saying it.

And so when you asked me like some good wise, last words, and I got stuck on the wise part of it, I realized I never feel like it. I've had a very colorful life and I I've experienced plenty of things. And I guess I enjoy sharing it, but it really depends on the listener and what's wise for them. And what is that little bit of thing that they need to hear right now?

And, and I hope that people who've been listening to us talk about change in all different ways. I have found that little nugget that they needed to listen to right in that moment. Um, so I think those are my wife's last 

Nic: Okay, well, speaking of sharing then, where can we find you? You have a website, you have an Instagram. That's how I found you. Right. and I know while you spoke about the coaching, but, you just launched this week. Well, depending on when the people hear that there might be a while back. You just got out and you guidebook tell us all about it.

Tell us about your episode, where we can find you, how can people connect and how can they, reach out to. 

Katherine: Sure. So, uh, I started out with, um, my blog, which is called bad days, abroad.com. And you can also find me on Instagram, where I share a bit more often these days, uh, which is, uh, well, if you're typing bad days abroad, you'll, you'll find me. Uh, I think there's some in between bed and days, but you will find me.

Um, and then that's true. Uh, I do offer coaching services so you can, uh, send me an email if you just need a fresh perspective, uh, you can, uh, get one-on-one coaching, whether it's a single session or for a longer period of time. Um, and then yes, just recently I launched a workbook. So when you're, when you enjoy working or, you know, when you enjoy reflecting by yourself and it just needs structure, and some dramatic, uh, guiding questions and exercises to help you get on the way, this is a way to do it at your own pace.

It also has guiding questions for, for those of you who are in a relationship and you need to make this decision together. a lot of clients come with, uh, with that request, like, how are we gonna make this, this decision together? So then there are some guiding steps in there as well. So it's not just for, uh, that have to make this decision on their own.

Nic: Yeah. And then I think we need to, emphasize one more time at this point that, this work did, that, goes into decision-making. if you expect at the end of the big revelation of knowing, I know exactly what I want and how I want to do it, and should I stay or should I go? Um, again, innovation is from the outside.

If you have not been involved in the program, Seems like, wow. And all of a sudden, but if you were the one creating that innovation it's work and it's, so come back and it's asking question and circling back, and it's asking another question, in different areas, I guess, of life. And, that's not a little thing to do. 

Katherine: That's so true. And you put it so well, actually, uh, yes. That's why a lot of this work of deciding whether you should do. It is a lot about asking questions from yourself and not all of them will be comfortable questions. Um, some of them, you, you know, depending on your relationship with yourself, you're able to ask some very hard questions from yourself and hear the answer.

if you need to have an objective voice in your life to, to mirror back what you may be missing, uh, in that constant circle thoughts and going on and in your head in circle, then, then do feel free to reach out to me. And if you wanted to build a beautiful home while you're an expert, then I think Nicole is a absolutely perfect person for that.

I wish you were not just in Switzerland, but also here in Estonia because I, I love your approach. Um, and if you know, if I could fly you in here, my future home, I would.

Nic: Oh, that's interesting because I, you know, I actually don't work in that way with, um, with clients as in, I go into their houses and, make like, I can do that, but I also like, just like you, I have a, you know, I have a process of guiding you through of actually getting you from the feeling, what is a feeling or a thought in your head and how do we visualize that?

And then you make your complete own decisions. 

I am just here to, I never realized that, oh, that's .


you know, and yeah, I mean, we talked about this before, like, but, but I work a lot with memories, right. With the memories of what home used to be and what you want home to be. And again, just because home used to be a doesn't mean that it has to be you're free to just take the best part and then replace the other ones for something completely new and create your own mix.

It's just a, you know, a lot of, these unconscious cycles of just assuming, that's what I know. And that's how it has to be. even though you've seen other people seen it differently, it doesn't cross sometimes your mind that you can do it differently. but interesting.

Clearly I have not been communicating back clear enough. I will get back to you about that strategic communication part. Well, kevin, thank you so much for being on a homework, having podcasts. Thank you for sharing. I do want to acknowledge it. I'm absolutely amazed on how clearly you communicate everything. Everything that I've read to you was just like, oh, she gets to the point so nicely. That is always my feeling.

When I see posts of you, I'm like, oh, well asked. Well, put to the point that is always what I see. And yeah. Thank you for sharing everything that you shared and thank you for just disagreeing when you did. And I think that's always like, this is part of the process, right? 

Katherine: Right. That's the academic and maybe, you know, I love to discuss, and I accept that people have different views. And I think that's the interesting part.

Nic: And I think That's what we need to learn throughout two opposable opinions at the same time. That's absolutely, it doesn't have to be either or like sometimes it's the tension in between them. You can have a and B, even though they're on different end of the spectrum. 

Katherine: Exactly. Yeah. But thank you so much for having me. This was a blast. Uh, we, we talked about change from it from angles that I don't normally get to do. So I really, really enjoyed 

Nic: Brilliant, brilliant. And I will definitely link all your accounts under this.

post, wherever the people are listening in. your links will be just below. So click. Thank you. 

Katherine: Thank you.