The Wonders and Challenges of Humanitarian life – Article

the wonders and challenges of humanitarian life

If you work in the humanitarian field, you can be proud!

Proud of yourself, proud of your impact on the world, proud of making a difference for some of the most vulnerable people in the world every day!

You're making a contribution, and your work is probably a true vocation!

As part of your job, you also have the chance to discover the world.

You travel and live in countries other than your own, exposing you  to other cultures, religions and ways of life. It's really wonderful!

However, being an aid worker isn't just a career, it's a choice that has an impact on your whole life, and this can sometimes be a challenge!

In this article, I'd like to highlight 3 important challenges I've observed in my coaching conversations with humanitarian workers. 

Because being a humanitarian worker is so much more than a career choice!

The role of savior, precarious contracts and the gilded cage

Most people starting their careers in the humanitarian field have to accept temporary contracts. This seems to be the rule. You start at the bottom and have to prove yourself and prove that you really want this kind of life. 

But these temporary contracts can last for years, which makes for a very precarious career. You never know if you'll get another contract, or where you'll be living in 6 months' time... Under these conditions, it can be very difficult to draw up a life plan.

It is really stressful and the consequence is that you may take a job that doesn't suit you or doesn't pay well, because you want to stay in the game.

I find it quite brutal. You have people who devote their lives to contributing to the world, and they have to fight to do it... all while getting paid by the slingshot.

The organizations they work for probably know they are taking on the role of savior and would do anything to help! There is so much to do and they want to contribute to a better world! So they might sacrifice a bit of themselves doing so…

You might say, "No, the reason is that the associations and NGOs they work for have a limited budget...". 

That's probably true for some associations, but others have rather colossal budgets and yet, in these organizations, it's only when you manage to land a permanent position that you can enjoy a very good salary and benefits that you are awarded in other careers.

The road to landing there can be long...

The irony is that once you've reached that grail, that permanent position, then the fear of losing that well-deserved job kicks in... and you can once again start accepting jobs that don't match what you really want in order to keep the position and the benefits... After years of precarious contracts, you've entered a gilded cage and you certainly don't want to lose everything you've worked for. 

As in the world of business or politics, at a certain point, the work in the field, the impact of the organization starts to count less than the position and the salary... 

Although there was a real vocation, the why is beginning to disappear.

Not only a job but an entire life

 A career in the humanitarian field is not just a career, it's definitely a lifestyle choice.

Where you live will depend on opportunities and assignments. You'll be on the move and traveling a lot, which, at first, is very exciting. But at some point it can become a real challenge.

Many aid workers start to wonder "where's home"?

They've traveled so much that they don't know where to land. Home is no longer home, they've seen so much, they've changed so much, it's hard to imagine going back.

As for their relationships, they've met a lot of people over the years. They have friends in many countries. It's both wonderful and emotionally challenging, as people come and go. They build strong relationships in difficult contexts, and then people move on.

What about falling in love and starting a family?

That's not easy either. Aid workers often fall in love while stationed in another country.

Will they stay in that country? Is the relationship strong enough not to return home? Or will they leave for another country, depending on one of their new assignments?

In a more “traditional” life, all these questions aren't so hard to answer... We're talking about your town or my town, or somewhere in between. In a humanitarian life, we're talking about your country or mine, or even your continent or mine, or somewhere else?

Decision making is definitely more complex for humanitarian workers!

Challenging environments and little support

As you can imagine, many aid workers work in politically or economically unstable countries. This is where the most urgent and important work needs to be done.

Some aid workers have field posts and are there to manage emergency situations. This is their job, and they have to be available at all times to provide immediate responses to climatic disasters, waves of refugees, drought, war, and so on.

Others have office jobs but work in countries where tension reigns and war can break out at any moment. They are trained to be ready to deal with these circumstances. They take with them their emergency baggage with everything they need to be evacuated if the situation becomes too dangerous.

Are they helped to get through it all?

Yes, but not enough, I find.

I'm always amazed to learn that in the fields of humanitarian aid, justice, health... where workers can be confronted with very difficult situations, even atrocities, so little psychological help is offered.

In a way, they have to do the work themselves, seek help, get out of their traumas, PTSD,...

Challenging isn’t it?

How much courage, openness and vulnerability are needed to achieve this?

Let me end this article by saying "hats off" to all aid workers.

Not only is your work a real contribution to the world, but you often carry it out with insufficient external resources and have to call on your own resources to make it happen.

Please don't lose sight of the fact that you're human beings too, and that you can only take care of others if you take care of yourself first.

“You can't pour from an empty cup”. 

So, if you feel you're losing your initial optimism, or even a part of yourself in the process, or if you're starting to have trouble making decisions about the next steps in your life or career, don't hesitate to ask for help. You need a little support too.

Are you a perfectionist? Check it out! – Article


A client story

I realized not too long ago that some of my clients weren’t really aware of their little perfectionist side. 

To tell you the whole story, I had a session with a client during which we talked about a personality test she had taken. She told me that she did indeed recognize herself in some of the negative aspects of the personality description. She listed these “negative” sides:

  • inflexible
  • reluctant to innovate or improvise
  • vulnerable to criticism
  • often too needy (fishing for compliments)
  • too selfless

She wondered what conclusion to draw from these personality traits because she saw no connection between any of them.

I suggested to her that perfectionism could be the link between each of these characteristics because controlling, needing recognition and putting others first are some aspects of perfectionism.

Indeed, it made sense as all these behaviors could be explained by an underlying perfectionism.

3 types of perfectionism!

What we often don’t know is that there are 3 types of perfectionism!

  • Self-oriented perfectionism: the person expects the best from themselves, always seeks more and better, never really satisfied with their achievements…
  • Other-oriented perfectionism: the person expects others to behave in a certain way and it bothers them when they don’t, becoming slightly intolerant and controlling
  • A socially prescribed perfectionism:  the person thinks that she needs to be perfect to be loved and accepted and therefore does a lot for others, in search of recognition

Interesting, right?

The related fears 

What is important to understand is that under every type of perfectionism hides a fear.

The self-oriented perfectionist is afraid of not being capable, competent, good enough,… So to avoid this fear, the person always does more to prove himself.

The other-oriented perfectionist is afraid of not having control, of what could happen,… So to manage this fear, she tries to control everything, her life, her schedule, the others… We never know what might happen!

The socially prescribed perfectionist is fearful of not being accepted. So she tries her best to be socially perfect and not disappoint others.

The consequences

All these fears can either push perfectionists to always do more, or lead them to procrastination or even paralysis.

And instead of taming their fears, these behaviors actually drain their energy, make them constantly anxious, and slowly sink their self-confidence.

So watch out for the signs!

Here are some additional clues to recognise perfectionism;

  • A black or white way of thinking: it’s all or nothing, it is excellent or it sucks, ..
  • An obsession with the result to be achieved with little pleasure in the process
  • The fear of being wrong
  • the need to anticipate, plan, control
  • The constant comparison with others
  • The difficulty of trying something new 
  • The need for recognition from others

This list is not exhaustive but can already give you an idea of the thoughts and behaviors of a perfectionist person.

Do you think you might have perfectionist sides?

Do they get in the way of what you’re trying to accomplish professionally or personally?

If so, it’s time to deal with it!

You will find some solutions in the following videos: 

And if that’s not enough, don’t hesitate to contact me. As a former perfectionist, I’d be happy to help!

“7 laws you need to know to better organise your time!” – Article

Pareto, Parkinson, Fraisse, Carlson, Illich, Laborit, Swoboda-Fliess-Teltscher,…

Yep, there are even laws regarding time and planning!

Phew! 😅

We didn’t invent anything and instead of reinventing the wheel, it’s rather interesting to look at what has already been said, tested, proven before us…

Of course, we are not obliged but it can be useful to us!

I share here 7 laws on time management. These are the ones I prefer and which seem to me the most useful for organizing your schedule.

1. Parkinson’s Law: “Time is like a gas: it expands to fill all available space!”

I think this is my favorite law!

Basically, this means that the more time you have to do something, the more time you take!

It also means that the more time you have to do nothing, the more time you take!

An invitation therefore to frame time using a “time boxing” method such as the Pomodoro technique for example.

2. Fraisse’s law: “1 hour is not always equal to 1 hour!”

It is certain that children quickly understand that time is relative and psychological!! One hour of video game does not equal one hour of homework! When you are in your “flow”, time flies! 😅

Well it’s the same thing for us and we must therefore take this into account in our planning.

3. Pareto’s Law: “80% of the effects (results) come from 20% of the causes (actions).”

A law that invites you to choose your actions wisely!

No need to run around and stir the air… Take a moment to think about how to use your time and energy is much more efficient!

4. Carlson’s Law: “Any interrupted work will be less efficient and take longer than if it were done continuously.”

Awesome! There’s even a law that says multitasking is counterproductive!

Like what, it’s not just me who says it!

So hide your cell phone and focus on one thing at a time!

5. Illich’s Law: “Beyond a certain threshold, human efficiency declines, even becoming negative.”

Wow, I love these laws!

And yes, there is no point in stubbornly working long days when things are not progressing!

Again this is counterproductive; you lose your energy, your time, your mental health,… A big sleep and you get back to it tomorrow.

6. Laborit’s Law or the Principle of Least Effort: “Humans prefer to perform simple tasks that give immediate gratification to avoid stress and inconvenience.”

Hahaha, no kidding! Immediate gratification!

In short, let’s try to start our days with the least funny things, so we avoid never doing them!

7. The Swoboda-Fliess-Teltscher Law: “Our productivity is directly guided by our biological rhythms.”

Yes, the name of this law is less easy to remember…

Let’s just remember that there are indeed times when our brain is more active! In general, in the morning and at the end of the day.

And other times where it is less so! We therefore avoid times when the brain is softened to think about very important things… for example, just after lunch because at that time it is digestion that has priority and not reflection…

So what do you say? These laws are nice, aren’t they?

Which one speaks to you the most? Use it in the next few days to plan your activities!

Find all these laws as well as other tips and tricks for organising your schedule and managing your daily energy in the document: “Plan 2023 with intention!”.

Download it for free here!

Happy planning!

Our fears sabotage us – Article

Our fears sabotage us

Let’s take a step back and understand why we experience fear in the first place.

Fear is a useful emotion as it intends to protect us from dangers.

When we were cavemen, fear was there so we could be alert and not be eaten by a wild animal as soon as we came out of the cave.

Many of us are lucky these days not to face fears on a daily basis. We are lucky enough to live a life without needing to be vigilant second after second.

Yet we are filled with fears.

Fears in our minds.

Reality and imagination

Our brain does not distinguish real fears from imaginary fears and our body reacts the same way to both.

So when we start imagining the worst-case scenarios of what could happen, the fear is real for our body, our pulse starts racing, our breathing becomes short, we feel hot and sweaty.

Our body prepares to fight, flight or freeze.

Fight, flight, freeze for what exactly?

Is there real danger?

Is this fear trying to protect us from anything?

I do not think so.

I think in this case our fears sabotage us.

Worst case scenarios

You could say that this fear is actually useful, it helps us prepare, it makes sure we have thought of everything, it pushes us to do the best we can.

I doubt.

To obtain what results?

 Preparing for the worst-case scenario?

Is this the way we want to live our lives, always preparing for the worst?

Isn’t that actually preparing us not to succeed?

Isn’t avoiding the worst just an excuse for not being ambitious enough with our lives?

What is behind our fears.

Fears sabotage us.

We are not afraid to protect ourselves from real dangers.

We are afraid because we want to protect ourselves from shame, guilt, rejection, “failures”,…

We are so afraid to be wrong! 

We are so afraid of people judging us (as we most probably judge ourselves and others the same way) that we try to control all the “what if” scenarios.

And that leads us to try to control what is uncontrollable because we cannot control others, we cannot control changes, uncertainties, unforeseen events, we cannot control life,…

Paralysing fears

Our fears leading to control paralyze us.

They paralyze all initiative, all proactivity, all creativity.

They create a big gap between our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations and our reality.

In the process, we waste a lot of our time and energy.

But above all, we lose confidence in ourselves, we lose faith in life.


Fears enclose us.

They sabotage us to the core.

They kill the sparks of our inner child who would want so much more for us.

Fears are a vicious circle.

And in the center of this circle is our ego.

There is so much more for you!

Please get out of your head.

Get out of your fears.

Get out of yourself.


Instead of cowering in your fears, open up to others and to the world.

Think of what you can bring to the world, how you can help the world to be a better place instead of being fearful of your potential mistakes.


Yes, it is not easy to choose faith over fear.

And it’s not easy to change this habit of thinking the worst as your brain is used to watching for “dangers” everywhere.

He’s so used to trying to find solutions to save us from being hurt, from being wrong, from being ashamed, from feeling guilty…

But it is possible once you understand that there is so much more to you than being locked in with your fears.


We all have a purpose on earth, a contribution to make to the world.

Use those fears to challenge yourself.

Use those fears to understand what really matters to you.

Your destiny is certainly not to be afraid and to miss out on your life!


So dare to explore, dare to trust, dare to love, dare to live your full potential!

Far be it from me to tell you all this and leave you with your fears! 

Here is another article that can help you tame them.

And if you need support to overcome your fears and move forward in your projects, do not hesitate to contact me.

Exhaustion – Article


This is a cry from my heart.

Following two years of Covid pandemic, many people are experiencing emotional and/or physical breakdown.

They held on tight for a while in a very difficult context with a lot of fears and uncertainties, they held on and now that the pandemic is receding, they have the space to let go, to think about themselves, think about their lives…  and they start to collapse.

I see a lot of people around me who stop working, handing over medical certificates, unable to carry on because they're too exhausted.

Most of them are women.

Indeed, during this period, gender inequalities were glaring and women, much more than men, managed most of the household: home schooling, cleaning, taking care of children,... all while working at the same time.

I wonder when we will realise that gender equality is far from being achieved.

Yes, we have the right to vote, to study, to choose our career, to be free,...

Yes, but in reality, it is always up to women to take care of the household, shopping, children, family activities... And it's not just about doing it in addition to our work, but also thinking about it, organising it, coordinating it! The mental load is almost exclusively for us.

Should we talk about progress? I don’t know. I think that women are stuck for the moment.

And I think most husbands, fathers, men don't realise that.

And it's partly our fault (and at the same time it's not, because we were well educated and programmed by the system…)

We play superwomen.

We proud ourselves and we convince ourselves we can do it all.

We don't delegate because it takes time and anyway it will not be done as we want it to.

We manage everything.

We control.

And at some point, it's way too much.

Ladies, we are caregivers, it is in our nature but the problem is when we care too much about others (and what they might think of us) and too little about ourselves.

Gentlemen, open your eyes, observe your house, do the exercise of listing all the invisible and repetitive tasks that your wives, sisters, daughters do without you realising it, as if it were completely normal.

We cannot do everything.

And if we do, at some point, we will crumble.

“5 strengths expat wife and entrepreneur have in common!” – Article

Expat wife

I wanted to write an article on expatriation for a long time.

An article on the challenges and opportunities of expatriation.

And to be very honest, more specifically on the unrecognised or undervalued role of the expatriate woman, the so-called “trailing spouse”…

But I wasn't sure how to approach this article…

Reading back my notes, I realised that expat women have so much in common with entrepreneurs! And indeed many of them, like me, become entrepreneurs!

So, what strengths do expat wives develop during expatriation that makes them super suited for an entrepreneurial role?

I did some research and here are 5 traits that successful entrepreneurs and expat wives possess:

  • Social abilities
  • Planning
  • Confidence
  • Creativity
  • Optimism

And I don't even dwell in this article on other qualities such as open-mindedness, risk tolerance, flexibility, resilience,... which are also common to expats and entrepreneurs! It will probably be in a future article!

The expat wife is a networking pro! 

Whether it's online networking or face-to-face networking, the expat wife is compelled to step out of her comfort zone as she is often responsible for creating what will be the social life for herself and her family. 

Networking is a must when you are new in town to start understanding the dos and don’t and to create a support network for you and your family.

It doesn't matter if you are extroverted or introverted, you must go out there, work on your social skills, be open-minded, dare to talk to strangers, ask anything and everything to find your place in this new environment (from finding the best grocery store or activities for the kids to solving passport or tax issues).

And to achieve this, the expat wife must accept to feel vulnerable and not be afraid of being rejected. 

After exploring all the possible avenues of networking, she will then choose those that will best suit her and her family, which also means diplomatically declining certain options.

Having created her own support network, knowing exactly whom to ask or whom to reach out for any possible questions or challenges, she often becomes the go-to person for new expats and when leaving her current host country for a new one, she becomes a pro at maintaining her global network!

She is a super planner and organiser!

At first, a new expatriate wife will probably think "what a great opportunity, I now have all the time in the world to do everything I always wanted to do when I was working!".

And soon she will realize that like gas, time expands until it fills all available space...

If she doesn't plan her day, time will pass and she will wonder what she is doing with her days, weeks, months,...

Without a boss telling her what to do or how to organise her day, the expatriate woman will become her own boss and create a routine for managing the household while achieving the goals she has set for herself!

She is definitely the great planner and organiser for the whole family;  taking care of the children, the school activities, the household chores, the maintenance, the shopping, the vacation planning, the social network,... that's all on her!

But on top of that, she will also have to make room and take time to realise herself and achieve her goals!

Doesn't that sound like a minister's program? Or the planning of an entrepreneur?

Courage and confidence are her mottos.

Being in a new environment, being bombarded with new information, meeting so many new people, taking on a new role, being confronted with other ways of doing things can definitely make us lose our bearings.

In addition, expatriate wives are often faced with the fact of no longer having a job, and therefore losing part of their identity.

All of this can shake their confidence.

It takes a good dose of courage not to lose sight of who you really are and what you really want.

You need a lot of self-confidence to continue to value your talents, skills, values ​​and to move forward, find your place and make the right choices for yourself.

She cannot do it without being creative!

Creating a new balance for herself and the whole family cannot be done without thinking outside the box and calling on her creativity.

Creativity in how she will spend time with children. Being home full time doesn't specifically mean quality time. It often means "Help, too much time with the children, I need air!". To find a balance in this new situation, she must invent a creative way to spend time with her children so that everyone finds joy and fulfilment.

Creativity to make room for her couple. To be abroad means to be far away. We may have more time for our family nucleus and we get closer to our children but at the same time, the children are always there! No immediate family or friends to take them for an afternoon or on weekends and spend time as a couple. So creativity is once again at the rendezvous to reinvent a little respite for the couple.

Creativity to stay connected with the country of origin! It takes planning and creativity (especially if there is a big jet lag) to organise video calls, special moments for children with their grandparents, godmother and godfather, sharing family adventures on a blog, organise birthday parties online,...

Creativity on a daily basis to develop potential options and find solutions to deal with all the new problems the family is facing in a new environment!

Optimism is her second nature!

Everything is new, everything is to be discovered, the cool things as well as the less cool ones. There are many changes, challenges and uncertainties and at the beginning of the expatriation it's a lot to manage at once.

Some days, everything is fine, life is good and expatriation is the dream.

Other days it's bad, we realise that it's not just a vacation but it's our life now and there are things we don't like. We are far from those who know us by heart and sometimes we just want to crawl back to bed and cry.

This is also what it means to be an expat; an emotional roller coaster, with high highs and deep lows; the sensations are greater there!

It is therefore essential to cultivate a positive mindset, no matter what happens. 

It also requires an unfailing optimism and sense of humour to overcome challenges and always see them as opportunities to learn and grow!

Isn't that still the spirit of entrepreneurship?