“On the other side of fear is growth”
In 2017 I decided to make myself location independent and try living and working out of a suitcase, at the grand old age of 38.
Up to this point, I had grown accustomed to dealing with change. Back in 2015 I left an impressive but unfulfilling corporate job in the luxury travel industry to set up my own business. I also left a 6 year relationship and moved to London from the city I had lived in for 10 years. On reflection I perhaps made too many changes at once but at the time it felt like I needed a total reset.
Back to 2017 and my life in London. I had a successful freelance PR career and was working with some amazing clients, but life started to feel stale. I always knew that London was a stepping stone to something else and in the summer of 2017, I started getting that nagging feeling that I was ready to up-level.
I wanted to start my experiment by going on an organised trip to see if this was a realistic way to live. To be honest, I was nervous about leaving London and the security I had created for myself, but I knew I needed to push myself to try something new.
After much research I chose a co working/living retreat in Portugal with 30 strangers and I was quite honestly terrified! I had no idea what to expect as this was my first experience of this type of retreat where you were actually encouraged to combine travel and exploration alongside continuing your work commitments. For 30 days I co worked, took part in workshops, hosted a business session with two friends I made in the group, went on a journey of self discovery and had a series of lightbulb moments about my own life and business. It can be best described as going back to university in your 30’s but with a bunch of professional people and reliving those giddy times of making multiple new friends, being spontaneous and letting go of the restrictions we tend to set for ourselves as we get older.
Sitting on my delayed flight back to snowy London in December 2017 I felt like a new person, so much had changed in such a short space of time. I know for certain that had I spent those 30 days in London in my usual routine, I would not have experienced such major personal shifts.
But what was the key factor at play here? was it the place? the overall experience, the change in routine, the feeling of freedom? yes all of these things had an impact, but ultimately I am certain it was the people who really blew the experience out of the water for me. These were people from different walks of life, from all over the world. I made friends for life with people I’m not sure I would ever have met under normal circumstances and that is powerful.
So what about my business and how did that change? It took a week or so but I got into a routine which allowed me to manage client work and still participate in the day to day activities on offer. Aside from that, just being in a different environment, having different conversations and being mentally challenged made me feel more inspired and connected to my purpose.
Not everyone on the retreat had their own business but each and every person in their own right had a passion for what they did and was there to make change, shake things up, try something new. I learnt so much from the other attendees during that trip and it was like tapping into this hub of insights, knowledge and new perspectives on a daily basis.
I now have a group of unofficial mentors all over the world and I know that if I ever need advice on something they are only ever a WhatsApp call away. In the past year we have ran webinars together, brainstormed business ideas over drinks in Seville, supported each other through personal and professional dramas and most importantly we are not afraid to give each other honest advice when it is needed.
In 2018 I took another leap and moved to Malaga, Spain. Another move and another up-level. The Portugal retreat was the catalyst for this and again I started a new chapter, this time deciding to ground myself in one place.
As with all up-levels there comes a period or periods of discomfort and the first year was hard but rewarding. I made new friends, created my own community and started to find my feet living in a new place. The following year I bought my apartment in the city and on the whole started to feel more settled.
Aside from the coaching practice and being actively involved in the co working scene in the city I decided in January 2020 that I wanted to lean into my love of creating in person experiences.
I believe there has never been a bigger need for this type of experience especially for anyone who is running their own business as a solopreneur. It can be very easy to get stuck in the to do list, behind your laptop and become disconnected from yourself and others. Making that commitment to yourself to try something new, get out of your comfort zone and take time for yourself works wonders not only for your confidence as a business owner and your self esteem but also for your focus and drive.
Then COVID19 hit and the events industry went upside down and everything went back online.
After a summer of taking stock and digging deep into what lights me up I decided to get my BIG DREAM back on track and launch my first day retreat experience here in Malaga. I sourced a venue and supportive venue owner who really believed in my idea and got to work on creating a fantastic itinerary and bringing together a group of local business women.
During what has been a difficult year I have some key takeaways..
- We don’t have as much time as we think we do, time is precious so don’t delay. If you have been procrastinating about your next move or putting a new idea out there, just do it!
- We are more resilient than we think we are. Many people have had to pivot their businesses this year or take a new direction. If the turmoil this year has taught us one thing it’s that in the face of adversity we can dig deep and navigate our way through, often to something which is better than what we had before. I feel the pandemic has re-routed many people towards something which is more aligned with what they really want and their purpose has become clearer.
- Our relationships, friendships and family are THE most important things we have. Everything else is a bonus.
- Live for the moment and honour your journey and all the steps you have taken to get you where you are.