When I was a buyer, I used to travel a lot. I would think nothing of jumping on a plane to the other side of the world, often on my own. I loved the sense of adventure. I had the best experiences as well as some pretty hairy ones (we won’t mention tearing around Dehli on the back of a waiter’s motorbike in the middle of the night!). What fun times they were. It is those memories that stay with me rather than the amazing places I stayed and the restaurants I ate in.
I haven’t travelled alone for quite some time now and so it was with great excitement and a little trepidation that I pressed ‘confirm’ on the flights to Thessaloniki in Greece. There were, of course, a few eyebrows raised and lots of people who said they couldn’t imagine doing the same thing themselves. I too might have felt the same at one time but not any more. Experience has taught me that the further you go out of the comfort zone the higher the rewards.
Winners are the ones who take the leap of faith.
It has also taught me to tune into my own needs and to listen to what my body is telling me. I have learnt how important it is to plan in breaks. I regularly check in with my one to one clients to make sure they are doing the same. This year, my usual practice of booking a flight on New Year’s Day didn’t happen for a variety of reasons and the impact soon became clear. When I recently got ill and had to take to my bed for the first time in a very long while, I knew there was a message. Action was needed.
So far so simple. Deep down I knew what I had to do but it wasn’t straightforward and it was fascinating to see how things unfolded. I learnt a lot in the process. Through the work that I do, my ear is very finely tuned to the workings of the subconscious mind. I regularly listen to the internal dialogue spoken out loud as clients (or, more specifically, their brains) attempt to justify in the most convincing of ways why they should stay put rather than make changes or take action. It was quite a shock watching it play out for myself!
As I umm’d and aaah’d, and googled endlessly, so the reasons ‘why not’ became stronger and more powerful. ‘What if the flight back gets cancelled like it did the last time I was there and these days I don’t have the travel department to sort it out’, ‘Is it reasonable to fly the day before Brexit – maybe the airport will be in chaos’ (that one is now right out of the window!!), ‘Easyjet are a nightmare, what happens if the flight is massively delayed and I am stuck at the airport for hours on my own’ and so it went on.
Writing the thoughts down is useful as it takes the heat out of the ‘argument’. As I note them down now, all my justifications seem, frankly, ridiculous. It didn’t feel like that at the time. Luckily, I was able to recognise it for what it was – my subconscious mind trying to keep me safe rather than the reality of the situation. It did make me wonder how many other things it could be skuppering without me even noticing.
Unsurprisingly, none of my fears proved to be accurate and it turned out to be a very special few days. I loved my own company and felt a sense of complete freedom. I filled my time reading, exercising, sleeping and enjoying the service from the most professional and friendly of staff. I revelled in the touches that come with staying in a nice hotel: fluffy towels, bathrobes and slippers to lounge about in, crisp sheets, lovely toiletries, starched white linen tablecloths, and the room fairy who tidied everything up and just as quickly disappeared again.
On my one trip out, hurtling down the motorway to town in a taxi driven by a man in a dark suit, even darker shades and an earpiece with Enrique Inglesias (!!) blaring out of the stereo, I was reminded of what I had been missing. Life is an adventure.
And so I return to London, feeling uplifted, energised and determined that this will be the first of many such trips. The lessons I have learnt have proven invaluable and have a relevance way beyond my trip to Thessaloniki:
- Listen to your body and the messages it is trying to give you and take action. It’s the only one you have got!
- It’s not selfish to put yourself first, it should be a priority. It’s not as difficult as you think.
- Be aware of your inner dialogue and how it can sabotage your efforts and ultimately limit your happiness. It is in action every moment of every day, often without you even realising it. Recognise it for what it is and break out of its chains.
I am more convinced than ever, the best life lies beyond the comfort zone!