Contract Ending? 5 questions to ask yourself.

Do you have a work contract that is ending soon? Often this one decision is the domino that triggers many other decisions in your life.  Here are five questions you can ask yourself that can help you decide what your next steps will be.

 

Many foreigners are in Shanghai on a contract basis. As the end of that contract approaches, the question arises of “what should I do?” This is not one straightforward question, but actually many questions that are related.

 

Do I stay in Shanghai? Do I look for another expat assignment? Do I move back to my home country? What city in my home country will I move to? Do I stay in my current field/with my current company? Do I go to grad school?

 

It’s a rabbit hole of questioning if you are unsure of what your next steps will be. Ask yourself (or your partner) the following questions to gain clarity as you make a decision.

 

What do I value about my current job?

 

Consider the company you work for, your colleagues, work environment, responsibilities, compensation, management structure, travel requirements, professional development opportunities, potential for growth, etc.

 

As you think of these factors, what, specifically, do you value? Do you notice any gaps on your list? Is there something that is important to you that you aren’t finding in your current role? For example, if you value autonomy and are currently micromanaged, it is worth noting this.

 

What stands out to you on your list? It is easier to create your list of pros and cons for renewing or looking for other opportunities if you start from a place of “what is important to me and what brings me value?”

 

What skills have I gained in my current role?

 

What specific skills do you use in your current position? What have you learned about yourself as you’ve developed and used these skills?

 

Try to think from a holistic perspective and describe what you do here that might not be immediately understood by someone without experience working in China. For instance, what skills do you use to manage a team of five people in Shanghai that are different than what you would use to manage a team of five in San Francisco?

 

You have likely developed new skills and honed others during your time in Shanghai. How do you see yourself using those skills going forward? Can you develop these skills further if you renew your contract or is it time to look for other ways to grow?

 

Where do I want to be three years from now?

 

This question is purposefully vague to prompt you to think about where you want to be in different arenas of your life. Start big and then unpack each of the areas of your life to get a better idea of what are your three-year goals and objectives.

 

Where do you see yourself personally—in a relationship? Married? With kids? Where do you see yourself professionally? Are there milestones you hope to achieve? Where would you like to live?

 

How is your physical and emotional health? What are your goals for your overall health?

 

You may find that these areas, while separate, are intertwined and your answers are dependent on one another.

 

What do I need to do in the next six months to move toward where I want to be in three years?

 

Once you identify where you want to be three years from now, ask yourself what needs to happen before the end of this year to point you in the direction of where you want to be.

 

If your current contract is ending and you have the option to re-sign, ask yourself how that will move you closer or further from your goals. If your goal is to transition out of Asia, how are you positioning yourself to move to another global market?

 

What is keeping me in Shanghai?

 

What brought you to Shanghai originally? I’m not asking about your work assignment, but rather, what attracted you to living Shanghai (or China).

 

Have those factors changed? Do you find yourself being challenged like you were when you came to Shanghai or has your growth slowed down? What is it about Shanghai that is keeping you here?

 

Whether there is more that is keeping you here or driving you away, it can be beneficial to consider what you’ve loved about Shanghai as you weigh your options for your next location.

 

This is the tip of the “what should I do?” iceberg. Check back in two weeks for what to do when you’ve decided to stay, or leave.

Many foreigners are in Shanghai on a contract basis. As the end of that contract approaches, the question arises of “what should I do?” This is not one straightforward question, but actually many questions that are related.

Do I stay in Shanghai? Do I look for another expat assignment? Do I move back to my home country? What city in my home country will I move to? Do I stay in my current field/with my current company? Do I go to grad school?

It’s a rabbit hole of questioning if you are unsure of what your next steps will be. Ask yourself (or your partner) the following questions to gain clarity as you make a decision.

What do I value about my current job?

Consider the company you work for, your colleagues, work environment, responsibilities, compensation, management structure, travel requirements, professional development opportunities, potential for growth, etc.

As you think of these factors, what, specifically, do you value? Do you notice any gaps on your list? Is there something that is important to you that you aren’t finding in your current role? For example, if you value autonomy and are currently micromanaged, it is worth noting this.

What stands out to you on your list? It is easier to create your list of pros and cons for renewing or looking for other opportunities if you start from a place of “what is important to me and what brings me value?”

What skills have I gained in my current role?

What specific skills do you use in your current position? What have you learned about yourself as you’ve developed and used these skills?

Try to think from a holistic perspective and describe what you do here that might not be immediately understood by someone without experience working in China. For instance, what skills do you use to manage a team of five people in Shanghai that are different than what you would use to manage a team of five in San Francisco?

You have likely developed new skills and honed others during your time in Shanghai. How do you see yourself using those skills going forward? Can you develop these skills further if you renew your contract or is it time to look for other ways to grow?

Where do I want to be three years from now?

This question is purposefully vague to prompt you to think about where you want to be in different arenas of your life. Start big and then unpack each of the areas of your life to get a better idea of what are your three-year goals and objectives.

Where do you see yourself personally—in a relationship? Married? With kids? Where do you see yourself professionally? Are there milestones you hope to achieve? Where would you like to live?

How is your physical and emotional health? What are your goals for your overall health?

You may find that these areas, while separate, are intertwined and your answers are dependent on one another.

What do I need to do in the next six months to move toward where I want to be in three years?

Once you identify where you want to be three years from now, ask yourself what needs to happen before the end of this year to point you in the direction of where you want to be.

If your current contract is ending and you have the option to re-sign, ask yourself how that will move you closer or further from your goals. If your goal is to transition out of Asia, how are you positioning yourself to move to another global market?

What is keeping me in Shanghai?

What brought you to Shanghai originally? I’m not asking about your work assignment, but rather, what attracted you to living Shanghai (or China).

Have those factors changed? Do you find yourself being challenged like you were when you came to Shanghai or has your growth slowed down? What is it about Shanghai that is keeping you here?

Whether there is more that is keeping you here or driving you away, it can be beneficial to consider what you’ve loved about Shanghai as you weigh your options for your next location.

This is the tip of the “what should I do?” iceberg. Check back in two weeks for what to do when you’ve decided to stay, or leave.

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