Planning your life as an emigrant – Short-term vs. long-term plans

Planning your life as an emigrant

Short-term and long-term plans

In the interview with Rafael  he said that he can’t make long-term plans. After our recording, we continued talking, and I asked him if he can’t make long-term plans because of being an emigrant or just his personality. I was curious because I haven’t been able to make long-term plans since I left my home country. 

When you are an emigrant is hard to make plans longer than the expiring date on your visa.

Many people have been experiencing the same with COVID. There’s so much uncertainty that even planning a vacation seems impossible.

I asked Rafael what his experience was on this topic. 

Here’s our conversation:

Rafael
Daniel, while you are on a work visa, it’s very hard to make long-term plans. After the expiring date [of your visa], you don’t know what is going to happen, if there will be a possibility of renewing your visa or not. So when I was on a work permit, I always had a limited time plan. So if my visa runs for a year, I was making plans for that year. If my visa was three years, I could have plans for three years.

But once I was granted the permanent residency, I could actually make long-term plans. That’s when I enrolled at the university, did something asides personal and professional.

But what I was talking about in the interview about short-term plans is due to the situation we are facing, which is completely out of our control. Maybe I will be safe in New Zealand, but I don’t know how the rest of the world will deal with the situation. So yeah, we may have another lockdown, world lockdown or not. I don’t know. I just try to work with the short-term plans for now. And hopefully, we’re going to have this situation sorted as soon as the vaccination is reachable for everyone

Daniel

Do you have any other examples that you might think of short-term and long-term?

Rafael 

Sure, another thing to keep in mind, for example, is getting a dog. That’s a long-term plan. Even when you are a resident, the situation of being an immigrant makes it a very long-term commitment. What are you going to do with your dog? Or what are you going to do if you buy a property here?

While you are on a work visa, it's very hard to make long-term plans. After the expiring date [of your visa], you don't know what is going to happen, if there will be a possibility of renewing your visa or not.

Daniel  

Do you think there are any benefits of planning your life short term?

Rafael   

I think so. I believe when you make short plans, you can concentrate more in just that period of time. Also, I think that really depends on what perspective we’re talking about. Because if we’re talking about having a dog, that’s a very long-term plan, right? If you’re talking about staying in a house, that’s a good short term. Good because it will allow you to search for new suburbs, new areas around your work, or maybe get to know communities and explore something in that period of time. Yeah, you know for sure that are great benefits of short-term plans.

It’s like being on vacation for a week or two in an exotic country. You’re not going to spend three days in a hotel room and watching TV because you only have little time to spend in that country.

Daniel

Because correct me if I’m wrong; for me having short-term plans makes me more productive, makes me feel like I need to squeeze more out of it. So if I only have six months, I tried to get the most out of those six months. It’s like being on vacation for a week or two in an exotic country. You’re not going to spend three days in a hotel room and watching TV because you only have little time to spend in that country.

Rafael  

I completely agree. You take more advantage of what you have. So if you have six months, you will explore as much as you can. You’re not going to procrastinating like you know if you had three years. It’s like, “I’m not gonna travel around New Zealand now because I still have three years,” and when you realize you just have two months left, you try to do everything you haven’t done. Having short term plan forces you to complete the task in the best way possible. Yeah, I follow your thoughts for sure.

Daniel

Was it the same when you went to New Zealand to learn the language, and you had one year to learn the language? Did that push you to learn the language, or was the environment enough to force you to learn the language?

Rafael  

I think it was a combination of both. I had a time that I dedicated to learning the language.  The fact that I had to learn the language to find a job and communicate with other people also pushed me. The environment and the time I had were related. The environment stressed the desire to learn the language. So I think the environment gave me the desire to learn. The timeframe forced me to better manage to do it properly. So I set a time in my day to learn English because that’s the only time I had.

Daniel

Do you have any other examples that you might think of short-term and long-term?

Rafael 

Sure, another thing to keep in mind, for example, is getting a dog. That’s a long-term plan. Even when you are a resident, the situation of being an immigrant makes it a very long-term commitment. What are you going to do with your dog? Or what are you going to do if you buy a property here?

Daniel 

Buying a property may be easier than getting a dog.

Rafael

Yeah, I agree. Even a baby, it’s easier than a dog. With a baby, you can get on an airplane, and you go anywhere. With a dog is much more complicated. If a dog goes to Brazil, it cannot come back to New Zealand.

Daniel

It needs to quarantine. Right?

Rafael

Yes, exactly. Having a dog is just another long-term plan that, as an emigrant, we have to keep in mind. But as long as we plan and focus on what we want to achieve, the chance of something going wrong it’s minimal.

I wanted to share this conversation to make you aware or remind you that, as emigrants, we often give up the privilege of making long-term plans. Even getting a dog can be a very challenging decision.
Personally, I started to embrace the short-term plans quickly after I left Italy. I realized that having a small window forced me to do more. As a result, I grew as a person, personally and professionally, much faster.

You can listen to Rafael’s episode here.

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