When I first started helping people move to France, a main focus of my business, and my marketing, was FRUSTRATION. People were FRUSTRATED with the opacity and infuriating indifference of French bureaucracy. (Or bureaucrazy, as my colleague and ‘Friend in Paris’ Justyna Simmons calls it!)

And I wanted to take away the frustration and the confusion.

The problem is, that if you’re someone who likes to GET THINGS DONE and TAKE ACTION, it’s hard to take away the frustration, because I can’t – at least, I haven’t been able to yet – fundamentally change how France works. Nor am I sure I’d want to.

Taking away frustration and ensuring things went smoothly were promises I couldn’t fulfil (and nobody can fulfil!), and that just created more frustration – but, that’s a story for another day. Nobody can give another person patience, just reassurance from a place of experience that everything is going to work out just fine.

It wasn’t until I made two simple shifts to my attitude about the whole ‘frustration’ thing that our whole client experience drastically improved.

One was framing the challenges of French bureaucracy as just that: exercises in creative problem-solving that force us to grow. Instead of starting the day – or our work with a client – with a question like, ‘what annoyances can we help this person avoid,’ we ask the question, ‘what new opportunities do we have today to learn something while advancing towards our clients’ goals?’

There’s always grunt work in following a dream, but the challenges along the way grow us so that we can take the dream on fully.

The other shift is simple: you don’t have to deal with all of the challenges NOW. We may be able to see them coming, and sometimes, I’ll tell a client, “that’s a challenge for future Allison and future you to handle, and I’m sure we’ll do a great job. But let’s get this done first.” Not having to worry about everything at once means taking things as they come, and making the move a little less stressful.

And having new opportunities to learn more about living in France makes the whole experience more rich.