Interview With Dominika Miernik, Expat Coach, DM Coaching

Dominika, you're an expat coach – tell us a bit about your company and its aims.

I specialize in helping people seeking to make an international career change to navigate the challenges and opportunities associated with discovering their dream career and then adapting to a new country. I aslo work with people who are thinking about starting up a business and I guide them to connect the dots between what they love to do and how they can design a business that matches their desired lifestyle.As you probably know life abroad can be very exciting and demanding, however may also cause anxiety, stress and homesickness. It may make you feel helpless, alone, lost and uncomfortable, especially if you are looking to build your career and life in a new country. The aim of DM Coaching is to help people to have the best of the international experience and fulfil your professional and entrepreneurial aspirations.

What does your own day-to-day routine look like? Could you talk us through a typical day in your life?

I start my day with an inspirational reading, going through my personal statement which reflect my personal and professional goals for the upcoming years or looking at my vision board. This morning routine helps me to reconnect with myself and start my day with the right energy and motivation, and I have a clarity about what I want to achieve.

Every day is different for me however I follow a weekly schedule. For example Monday and Wednesday are for my clients. I do coaching sessions via Skype or face to face in Rome or in the city I am currently travelling in. Usually I am doing two sessions in the morning and two in the afternoon. In between I can go for a walk, I live on the sea side now, or I have a lunch with my partner.

On Monday evening I focus on my own personal development, I listen to webinars or follow some online courses. My own personal development is very important for me.

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Tuesday and Thursday are Marketing days, I get online and promote my business through sharing my blog posts or creating Facebook ads. I reconnect with people who are interested to work with me or I attend some networking events.

On Friday I review my week and prepare for the next one and in the afternoon I focus again on reading or listening to webinars. Once per month, usually on Wednesdays, I focus on writing my blog posts and preparing questions for guests of my monthly podcast The Expat Career and Lifestyle. I also deliver personal development workshops to the international community in Rome so I dedicate some time to prepare the content. As I mentioned I follow a schedule however I am very flexible if an unexpected opportunity comes up. This is an advantage of working for yourself.

What was it that drove you to set up DM Coaching?

When I entered the job world after my graduation I was fully committed to working in the Recruitment or HR sector, I covered various positions in the customer service, sales and recruitment industry but there was always something missing. I liked my jobs but I wanted something more than paying my bills, waiting for the weekends and one week holiday abroad. One morning when I was waiting for the train to go work, I told myself there must be something more for me that this kind of life. And it happened. I was in Manchester, UK at that time, and the company I worked for was sold to a large corporation so I decided to resign to start my own coaching business that combined my personal experience as an expat, with my background in recruitment, psychology and career counselling. My desire to reorganise my life to make work fit into my life instead of the other way around drove me to set up my own coaching business.

What first prompted your own move abroad, and where did you move from and to?

I first moved abroad in 1999 from a small Polish town to study psychology at the University of Rome, Università di Roma “La Sapienza”, specializing in communication and organization psychology. After my graduation I relocated to Milan, where my partner was working (he is Italian). In 2009 my partner and I moved to Manchester, UK for a job opportunity. We came back to Rome in 2014 and now we are living outside of Rome, on the sea side. You see after 5 years of rain we wanted some sun! Probably we will move again, we are considering new cities or new countries. I think I can define myself as expat student, love expat, career expat and now a globetrotter.

You focus on helping people to quit the traditional career world and do jobs they love. What do you think holds people back from making this leap, and how can they overcome this?

I work with both kind of clients, people who are looking for a traditional job abroad and people who are looking to set up their own business. When it comes to making a change from the traditional path to the self-employment, yes it is challenging, it can be hard and there are many obstacles to overcome such as our limiting beliefs: I am not good enough, Who is going to buy from me, It is not the right moment to start a business, I don’t have money or I don’t have the time…we can really sabotage ourselves in many ways.

What I advise to people who are thinking about working for themselves is to prepare an exit and action plan, work on your business while you are still an employee so you can test your business idea, you can ask for a part-time contract or look for another part-time job, in this way you can have more time to focus on your business. Also work on your mindset, the employee mindset differs from the entrepreneurial mindset.

Join businesses, start up networking groups so you can be surrounded by people similar to you. Or find a mentor, someone who is doing the same thing and is one step ahead from you. When I started I quit my 9 to 5 job, however I had some money put apart which I could invest into my business and I was taking some temporary jobs like interpreting. I committed to myself and my business. The most important thing is to start, it will be not easy but all the work, challenges, obstacles are worth it.

A lot of people report feeling unsatisfied in their current roles, but aren't sure how to work out what they want to do with their lives. What advice would you give to them?

I would advise to start with your life vision first. Ask yourself: How do you want your life to look? Where do you want to live? What time do you want to wake up in the morning? In my non-traditional coaching I use the “life first work second” approach developed by Dr Valerie Young. Then after you’ve figured out how do you want your life to be, focus on your career or business idea.

Think about what you like to do in your spare time. What are people complimenting you about? You can ask them what they think you are good at. What comes naturally to you? What skills do you enjoy using? For example someone can be good at languages but it doesn’t mean he or she enjoys using those skills. So do a list of 10 things you enjoy doing, however it must be something actionable not like watching TV. For example if you like going to spas you can become a spa reviewer. Hire a coach or a mentor.

Quitting your job to do something different is a big enough leap in itself, but doing so in a new country can feel very daunting! What would you say is the main challenge faced by expats in this situation, and how can this be addressed?

I think it is the knowledge about how to start a business in a new country, what are the requirements, laws and logistics involved (VISA or permit requirements). It is more a practical part of the business. I would advise to ask an expert such as an accountant, or an expat who started a business in a country you want to live in. Do your research on the Internet or if you are currently living in that country search for business groups or international community groups and make some contacts. Also knowing the culture of the country and some basic language helps you a lot.

Finally, what do you do when you're not coaching people?

I love travelling so when I am not coaching I tend to travel a lot through Italy, it is such a beautiful country, and I visit some new countries, too. I have also more freedom right now so I can often visit my home country, Poland. I meet with my friends, read a lot, I do jogging and meditation sometimes. I like to discover new vegetarian restaurants.

Dominika Miernik is an expat coach based in Italy. You can find out more about Dominika and download a free e-course to clarify your goals on her website.


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