Approving instructions

When you write instructions, make sure you test them with those they are written for.

It is not enough to get approval from somebody who knows and already understands the process you are describing.

Otherwise, this happens.

We ask you to create your own personal account at *URL*. In case you already have a personal account created for the child from preschool, the same account is used for the registration to school. You may not use the account created for an older sibling but are permitted to add the younger sibling using the key codes below.

From instructions to register your child to school

Not like all others

Today is not a post like all others.

Because today I was given an award, and an unusual amount of people have turned their attention to my blog.

For a moment there I panicked. What am I going to write about? What can I say that is more meaningful than what I usually say? How can I make sure that I make no mistakes, that I find perfect words, that I give people what they want to read? How bad would it be to skip just one day?

And despite those thoughts still being there, I am happy I did not let them hold me back. I am happy I did not hide. Having a practice you can fall back on is comforting. It helps you fight resistance.

Tomorrow I will still be writing. That’s all that matters.

Few thoughts

A bunch of random thoughts, further reflecting on my story as an expat job seeker in Finland.

When you are in a new situation, use where you’ve been to fuel the journey ahead, not as a reminder of the journey it could have been.

People need somebody who believes in them, and while you are waiting for that somebody yourself, it’s easy to forget you could be the one believing (in you and in others).

Being aware of luck is tremendously important, and helping others with the luck you are given is a great way to keep your feet on the ground.

If you are thinking about mentoring, helping, volunteering, the best thing to do is to just stop talking about it and start doing it. It’s generous, rewarding, and it does make a difference.

Against denigration and disregard

We attach labels to people and groups of people, partly because we try to make sense of what we do not understand, and partly to reinforce our identity and belonging to a different group.

“People that are born in that period are weak.”
“People that work in that team are lazy.”
“People that come from that geographical area are dishonest.”

Even if we assume that these types of labels have some truth behind them (they usually do not and are more of a reflection of our internal insecurities, yet humor me for the sake of the argument), the best and more effective approach would be to first understand the deeper level of the manifestation that inititated the labelling, and then try to imagine and build an environment in which the deeper reason can either be leveraged or addressed.

So, for example, if we believe that a group of people is particularly weak, on a deeper level this might mean that they are better in touch with their own feelings and emotions. As a reaction, we could try to figure out a way to make sure that their improved understanding of their selves could be employed and put to good use.

If we assert that a certain team or department is lazy, it might be because they do not have the tools necessary to effectively do their job, or because their team lead is not sufficiently motivating. As a reaction, we might want to try to facilitate their tasks and work in any possible way, or look for another manager.

This happens very seldom. The easiest and most common reaction to labelling is either denigration or disregard. Denigration is where every form of extremism is born: we reinforce the labelling by supporting it with every evidence we might find, and we feed it to the public forum every time it is possible. Disregard is instead working around the group and their characteristics, building walls to keep them out, pretending they do not exist.

It takes a great deal of awareness and courage to act differently when we catch ourselves in lazy labelling.

I am not here for that

When I moved to Finland seven years (and some months) ago, I did that primarily to find a better quality of life for my future family.

Throughout the years, particularly during the two long periods (about 10 months at the beginning and 12 months more recently) during which I have struggled to find a job, I had to remind myself of this quite many times.

The reason why I am here is NOT professional.

There is some debate these days about how difficult it is for foreigners to find a job in this country. Indeed, if you do not speak Finnish, or if you don’t have good connections, or if you do not know how the job industry works here (for example, in terms of being bold in your applications vs being honest), it is quite the challenge to be employed. Sometimes, accepting a job below your education level will help, sometimes it won’t.

The reason why I am bringing this up, even though it might seem like a local issue, is that we often define ourselves, our lives, our satisfaction in terms of the job we have. For good reasons, of course, but we should be more careful about that.

People do not come to Finland because of its amazing economy, the infinite professional possibilities the country has to offer, the openness of its society.

People come to Finland because schools are excellent and education is free, because the work culture permits to go home at 16.00 without feeling guilty, because there is a well-maintained playground in every courtyard, because public transportation can reliably take you basically everywhere you need to go, because of its stunning nature, some also because they enjoy spending winters under 60 centimetres of snow.

We should refocus the way we think about life and satisfaction. Having a job is important, but it does not end there. If, for any reason, it does instead, then unfortunately Finland is not the best option on your list. And I am sure it’s their loss.