Re-Entry 101

The One Thing All Returnees Want

Returnees come in all shapes and sizes. And, as I’ve found, that makes talking about “the re-entry experience” in a way that resonates with all returnees super difficult. (That’s one of the reasons why it’s so hard to get returnees to attend re-entry workshops – but that’s a whole other blog post).

While there are some constants (nearly everyone experiences at least a little reverse culture shock, for example) there are A LOT of variables that influence a returnee’s re-entry experience. And, unfortunately, most returnees are completely unaware of these variables and how they (sometimes positively but often negatively) impact their re-entry experience.

But there is one thing that ALL returnees can agree on.

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They’d rather have re-entry work FOR them, than against them.

Through no fault of their own, though, most returnees don’t even realize that they’re letting re-entry work against them. Or that it’s possible to make re-entry work FOR them.

That’s why I created the Re-entry Roadmap, which has now been used by returnees all over the world with excellent results! The Re-entry Roadmap shows you the 5 steps to making re-entry work FOR you, instead of against you.

The 5-Step Re-entry Roadmap

Here’s a summary of the Re-entry Roadmap:

Step 1: Identify Your Emotions.

Returnees have big, complex, often conflicting and overwhelming emotions that make the re-entry experience challenging at best and downright painful at worst. That’s why the first step in making re-entry work FOR you is recognizing and naming your emotions. There’s amazing power in this first step – I’ve seen it first-hand with my mastermind students! That’s why one of the first activities in the Re-entry Roadmap workbook shows you exactly how to do this.

Step 2: Reframe Re-entry.

Through my research and working with returnees all over the world, I’ve discovered that the word “re-entry” makes most returnees recoil. It’s often subtle but I’ve actually seen this happen in workshops! I felt it myself when I was in re-entry, and remember feeling turned off by anything “re-entry.”

Why? Well, in short, the word “re-entry” creates a feeling of going backwards, and that’s the last thing returnees want. Same goes for those other re-words…reintegration, readaptation, repatriation, etc.

So, the second step in making re-entry work FOR you is to reframe re-entry into something that inspires, motivates, and invites you in. Something that makes you feel like you’re still moving forwards. Some of my mastermind students have reframed re-entry for themselves as:

  • a new world
  • a new beginning
  • a blank canvas
  • climbing a mountain
  • a marathon to run
  • a quilt to stich
  • writing a script…in pencil

The other part of reframing re-entry? Reframing our re-entry language!

In my workshops, coaching, and consulting, once we start working the Re-entry Roadmap, I start using words like forward-entry, forward-integration, and forward launch (instead of re-entry, reintegration, and relaunch). Do you feel a difference when you say re-entry vs. forward entry? I sure do, and I’ve seen a change in my students and clients after reframing our re-entry language!

Step 3: Unpack Your Re-entry Backpack.

If you’ve ever been in one of my webinars, read my workbook or participated in one of my mastermind groups, you’re familiar with the concept of the “re-entry backpack!”

Basically, it’s a mental backpack you carry around and in which you accumulate invisible “re-entry rocks” – which are all those unprocessed pieces of the re-entry transition that over time weigh you down and make re-entry work against you.

The way to make re-entry — or forward entry, as I prefer to call it! — work FOR you? Unpack that backpack! How? That’s a MUCH bigger topic than we can get into here but the key is figuring out who you are, what and who is most important to you, and what you want your life to be like now. I have lots of activities in my workbook that help you unpack your backpack, and it’s a big part of what we do in my mastermind groups.

Step 4: Find Your Global Life Ingredients.

Pretty much every single Forward Launcher I’ve ever worked with wants to continue living a vibrant global life, no matter where in the world they are. But it’s super easy to feel that goal slip away when living in your familiar home culture, speaking your native language.

The solution that’s worked for so many Forward Launchers – and was key for me personally – is finding your Global Life Ingredients. Knowing your Global Life Ingredients enables you to live a rich global life, on your terms, no matter where in the world you are. And they’re key to helping you feeling like you’re moving forwards!

And yes, you guessed it, there’s an entire section of the Re-entry Roadmap workbook dedicated to helping you find your unique Global Life Ingredients (it’s also a big part of the mastermind)!

Step 5: Create Your Forward Launch.

This is where the Re-entry Roadmap ends because this is where your Forward Launch begins!

This is where you bring everything from steps 1-4 together and…wait for it…launch yourself forwards with peace, confidence, and excitement.

This is where making re-entry work FOR you no longer feels like a theory or something far off in the future. It feels real and possible. And even though you’ve been calling yourself a Forward Launcher, now you really feel like one.

If you’re ready to make re-entry work FOR you (or help the returnees you work with make re-entry work for them), get started by signing up here to get our monthly newsletter!

You might also want to check out my Re-entry Roadmap workbook (hard copy and Kindle versions available) or my Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit.


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About Author

Dr. Cate Brubaker is on a mission to make re-entry after living abroad a positive, transformational force (even when it’s not easy…especially when it’s not easy)! Cate is the author of the Re-Entry Roadmap workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 37 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.