Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Menninger's Morale Curve

Whatever happened to the frequency of my posts on this blog? [For those not reading this blog in real time, I've since back-posted several articles.] Well, let me tell you a story about cultural readjustment and morale overseas. As it turns out, I'm not actually the first person in the world to move overseas. (I know, right? I was shocked too!) The PeaceCorps and Foreign Service have been doing this for awhile and they (and others) have studied the effects on their people. Both have found that morale forms a W over the course of a two year tour. The transplantee starts the W with a peak of high expectations and excitement for being in a new place. Their mood slowly worsens as the honeymoon ends and they fall into their first valley, commonly called culture shock. Things start to recover as they accept their situation and adjust their expectations. This is where the Foreign Service diverts from the graph. Our middle peak comes right around when we're learning where our next post will be. The realization that we're leaving causes people to "check-out" from their current position and start fantasizing about the onward assignment. Finally the last peak begins the honeymoon period of your next post.

So... when I was starting to have motivation issues approximately six months after I arrived, my more veteran colleagues quickly pointed out that it was "just my time." It's kind of depressing how cookie-cutter my symptoms were from the link above. I love Chennai (and that's not the middle peak speaking), but I think any major life change has its challenges and we pretty much changed every part of our life when we took this job.

Anyway, since February I've gotten over my hump and things are smooth sailing again. I've thought of a bunch of potential blog posts, so things should pick back up. I'll be curious to see how this curve compares in the future when I'm more acclimated to this lifestyle and experience other posts with higher or lower hardship ratings.

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