Solo travel – how to make your adventure the perfect personal growth opportunity

I love adventures. I love having things to look forward to. For me it keeps life interesting. For me the best kind of adventure is going somewhere I have never been before. Travelling, is one of all of my clients top goals. Now I love to travel with loved ones and friends, it’s great to share memories when we come home. However, the ultimate adventure for me is travelling alone. Going to a new country. Figuring out where to go, what to do, how to get there. It’s exhilarating, exciting and always an opportunity for personal growth.

I took my first alone trip when I was 18, starting with London. Then a day trip to Calais. And then a month travelling South Africa during my divorce, launched my alone pilgrimages around the world. As we speak I am on the train from Denmark taking my first proper trip to Germany. (Somehow up until now I have only ever passed through the country and seen all manner of service stations).  And when I look back all my travels have been at points in my life when I was in need of inner reflection, transition points where in an intense period of time I grew a lot as a person.

Solo travel is the perfect opportunity for personal growth. For one thing it takes us out our comfort zone. Challenging us to be brave. Travelling alone gives us less noise. Our horizons are widen. We don’t have the need to talk to entertain or in some cases perform. As we observe reflect, as we reflect we grow.  As the travel channel says “Travel is not a reward for working it’s education for living.”  And today in world where personal development is such a trend and it’s easier than ever to travel the world we have the good fortune to maximise the personal growth opportunity of solo travel.
Solo travel is the perfect opportunity for personal growth. For one thing it takes us out our comfort zone. Challenging us to be brave. Travelling alone gives us less noise. Our horizons are widen. We don’t have the need to talk to entertain or in some cases perform. As we observe reflect, as we reflect we grow.  As the travel channel says “Travel is not a reward for working it’s education for living.”  And today in world where personal development is such a trend and it’s easier than ever to travel the world we have the good fortune to maximise the personal growth opportunity of solo travel.

So on this mini adventure I am going to do just that. (After all a life coach has to practice what they preach.)  Putting into practice everything I have learnt from my other adventures to see if I can maximise the opportunities on the trip ahead.  If you are lucky enough to have a half term or weekend/ mid week break coming up, try this recipe for your personal growth adventure and don’t forget to let me know how it goes in the comments below.

Set your intention

On a personal growth adventure the location isn’t as important as the intention for travelling. Decide what it is you need from your trip. For me this journey is as much about having some time to write as it is to think about the direction of my career combined with satisfying my wanderlust desires and a need to challenge myself by travelling alone in a new country.

Choose a destination inline with you intention and your instincts

You might decide you want to reconnect with your inner child and go to a beautiful fairytale castle or have some alone time in a solitary cabin in the woods. You might want to challenge yourself and end up zip lining down a mountain in Brazil. Try and align your destination with your intention but at the same time don’t forget to listen to your instincts. If you get the pull to go somewhere check it out.

Schedule alone time

This is really important. I am lucky and have friends all over Europe so I can pretty much stay in any country I like for free. However, it can be tiring to be a guest all the time. So even if you are going to visit friends schedule some time to yourself. Nothing is more healing or more mindful than having a day just going with your own flow and following your own desires.

Don’t overbook your schedule

Make sure you give yourself some time that is free for going with the flow. There is alot to see and do around the world but some of the most enlightening adventures come unplanned and spontaneously. That’s how I found myself drinking champagne outside an igloo on top of an austrian mountain last year enjoying the beautiful sunshine on the snow.

Challenge yourself

Now travelling alone is challenging but try and push the boundaries back a little more on your trip and plan to do something that will challenge you. When we challenge ourselves we grow. And often end up with better stories to tell and a sense of self achievement.  Sometimes the challenge is accidental and its about learning to cope not react to it. (For example I had a conductor read my ticket wrong and that meant I had a two hour delay. No sweat I went to the art gallery, it was a nice trip!)

Immerse yourself in the new culture

Learning about a new culture is widening both of the mind and spirit. Wherever you are in the world on your travels try the local food, go out where the locals go. Find the off beaten track that will show you something new. I find from travelling I have not only learnt to appreciate new things, perspectives, beliefs and yummly, food, I have also learnt a lot about my own culture. Both it’s strengths and weaknesses. Travelling gives you a fresher perspective on your own roots ergo deepening your understanding of yourself.

Remember to Play

When we travel we often do or say things we wouldn’t do at home. I always recommend playing. It is healthy at any age. But I especially advise doing it when you are abroad. Children are much more open to new experiences. Let your inner child guide you into seeing the world with a fresh perspective and allow them to inspire you.

Keep a Journal

With all these new sights, sounds, experiences and thoughts it can be easy to forget all the flashes of insight and clarity you have. I recommend keeping a travel journal. I still have mine from South Africa. Going back and looking at it reminds me how far I have come and reminds me of the lessons and insights I still need to remember now.

Enjoy the journey

Don’t stress about the personal development part of your journey. Be present. Enjoy it. And allow the inspiration to flow naturally.   In my experience the most enlightened thoughts sometimes turn up in the strangest of places!

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What have you learnt from traveling solo? Please share in the comments section below!

Have a wonderfully adventurous week <3

#Lifelessons101 – Finding your identity after a break up

Breakups are the worst. Not much more to say about that. The healing process after can be really tough if you have spent so long being us that you can’t remember how to be me.

After a break up you can feel a bit lost at first. Over the years, your thoughts and lifestyle patterns have been in unionism with another individual and once that habit breaks, it’s almost feels like you have lost a bit of yourself in the process

We’ve all been there. Finding your identity again after a breakup can be a real challenge. Yet remembering who you are and discovering who you are now, knowing who you are and what you want out of life is one of the most important steps to healing and growing. And is one of the gifts of learning you get from a break-up.

Now I have had my share of failed relationships. Yet through the many trials and tribulations  and I have found a fail safe formula to get back on track and find myself again. Knowing who you are and where you want to be relatively quickly. Sounds unbelievable right? Well it works. It’s worked for me. And it works for every client I have ever had in a breakup situation.

The process has 3 steps. Do them at your own tempo. Moving forward is a process not an on and off switch you can flip. So just take each step when it feels right.

So if you have come out of a relationship and can’t remember who you  are anymore and want to move forward please just try this method and I hope from the bottom of my heart it helps xxx

Step 1: Find your dreams

I discovered this during my divorce. It was a relatively short lived marriage and stopped so abruptly I was still full of the dreams, goals and hopes I had for our future. I couldn’t actually remember what I had wanted before. And I had no idea what I wanted at them time. So I made a list. (If you are regular here you know that I LOVE lists!) This was a special list. PArt bucket list and part goals. I wrote down everything I could thing of I wanted to do, had dreamed of doing, wanted to learn or try. The list included learning to skateboard, getting an education, baking my own bread and travelling alone to a foreign country. Once written I looked at what I could put into action straight away. I grabbed a skateboard and in my suit I skated to the office every day. I went travelling around South Africa. I booked surfing and motorcycle lessons. Now to be fair I was overly trying but it helped. Everytime I felt despondent I looked at my dream list and worked out how to make something happen. Within 3 months I was enjoying life again and felt more empowered than I had done in so many years. In Fact I am still working out of that original list today. Just 20 minutes in one of my hardest of life moments became a total game changer.

So grab some paper and a pen and start to write your dream list. Include both stupid things, practical things and things you think might be unachievable. The sky’s the limit. Once written fulfill one of them. Make it happen.

Step 2 – Find your passion

So a little while after you have started to live out some of your dreams. You might find yourself wanting something more substantial. It’s at this point I recommend finding your passion in life. If you already know it you can choose to either skip this stage or use it to check in that you are on the right path. The 7 strange questions created by Mark Manson is the most effective method I have found to identify what it is that really sparks your passion. Originally created to to find your life purpose these questions are a no bs way of cutting straight to what is important, in an easy and accessible format.

 The 7 strange questions – The questions were invented by Mark Manson however they are slightly adapted.

1. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE FLAVOR OF SHIT SANDWICH AND DOES IT COME WITH AN OLIVE?

Think about the worst possible life style you could have that you could tolerate and find some happiness in. So not the worst lifestyle you have, but what is your bottom line?

2. WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY?

We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it. However our 8 year old self didn’t think like that. The did things for the sheer joy of it. What brought you joy then that you don’t do now?

3. WHAT MAKES YOU FORGET TO EAT AND POOP?

Maybe for you, it’s computer games. Maybe it’s organizing things efficiently, or getting lost in a fantasy world, creativity, sport or teaching somebody something, or solving technical problems. Whatever it is, don’t just look at the activities that keep you up all night, but look at the cognitive principles behind those activities that enthrall you. Because they can easily be applied elsewhere.

4. HOW CAN YOU BETTER EMBARRASS YOURSELF?

Before you are able to be good at something and do something important, you must first suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing. That’s pretty obvious. And in order to suck at something and have no clue what you’re doing, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. And most people try to avoid embarrassing themselves, namely because it sucks.

Right now, there’s something you want to do, something you think about doing, something you fantasize about doing, yet you don’t do it.You have your reasons, no doubt.if your reasons are, “My parents would hate it,” or “My friends would make fun of me,” or “If I failed, I’d look like an idiot,” then chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you, not what mom thinks or what Timmy next door says.

5. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SAVE THE WORLD?

Find a problem you care about and start solving it. Obviously, you’re not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference. And that feeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment.

6. GUN TO YOUR HEAD, IF YOU HAD TO LEAVE THE HOUSE ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, WHERE WOULD YOU GO AND WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Discovering what you’re passionate about in life and what matters to you is a full-contact sport, a trial-and-error process. None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.

So ask yourself, if someone put a gun to your head and forced you to leave your house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you choose to occupy yourself? And no, you can’t just go sit in a coffee shop and browse Facebook. You probably already do that. Let’s pretend there are no useless websites, no video games, no TV. You have to be outside of the house all day every day until it’s time to go to bed — where would you go and what would you do?

7. IF YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO DIE ONE YEAR FROM TODAY, WHAT WOULD YOU DO AND HOW WOULD YOU WANT TO BE REMEMBERED?

Most of us don’t like thinking about death. It freaks us out. But thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting.

So what would you do if you knew exactly when the end was nigh? What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? Is there anything to say at all? If not, what would you like it to say?

Now before moving on to the next step, have a look at your answers and see if you can find reoccuring themes. What words crop up again and again? And once you have looked once, look again.

Step 3: Start to build the life you imagine for you

So now you know your passions and your dreams, it’s time to start thinking about the life you want for you. Grab the biggest piece of paper you can find and create a vision of your ideal life.

Throw out all reality and allow your fantasy to run riot. This is you creating your universal recipe for how you would like your life to be. Every time you think no that’s not possible ask yourself do you want it? If the answer is yes, then it goes on the brain storm.

There are four sections to this brainstorm and I would recommend imaging your life 10 – 15 years from now.

Lifestyle – This includes where you live, what in, do you own it, countryside, city, what style of accomodation, what decorations.  What is your life style like? Your hobbies, do you eat out every week? Do you travel 3 times a year? Do you own a summer house? Do you have a pet? Do you have a car, a motor bike, a boat? And how much money do you have in the bank? Also do you want alot of social or is me time very important to you?

Career – Describe your job, the hours you work, your responsibilities, your working environment, your ideal colleagues and of course your ideal pay.

Achievements – This is basically a bucket list for the next ten years.  Achievements do not need to be just finished university, got married with two kids, it can be something like being an extra on a marvel movie, volunteering in Nepal, riding a bike across the great wall of China or doing a parachute jump. Remember no limits and that fun is a hugely important part of this journey called life

People – This section is about the people and relationships you want in your life. And I don’t mean just names. This is about the quality of your relationships. And this can also be the relationship you have with yourself.

Do this brainstorm on paper, the bigger the better. Follow the order and do each section one at a time.

Then take a step back. This is the life you want. And this is the life you are going to create for yourself. How does it feel to look at it? Are the themes from the 7 questions involved in your plan? If not how can you include them. These are your passions and if you suppress them you won’t feel happy or fulfilled in life.

When you have finished this is the time to start making goals and a plan to create this life for yourself. If you like you could create a vision board or use some of the goal setting techniques here.

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By the time you reach stage 3 you will find that you are starting to feel like you again. There are of course many other parts of healing that need to happen after a break up. Finding yourself is but one of those. However when you know who you are and what you want, it is a heck of a lot easier to move forward and gives you something to keep aiming for when the saddness or memories make that day tough.

Let me know how you get on with the steps and how they helped you in the comments below.

Wherever you are in the world I wish you a beautiful weekend <3

How to create Work / Life balance by taking 5 simple actions

Getting a good work/life balance is one of the eternal questions of all post Yuppie generations in the affluent West. We all want it. We know we all need it. And yet having it is a challenge for most. This weekend my taxi driver was one such hopeful Or rather stressful. Living in a busy city he is in full time education and then works nights and weekends to make the money he needs to live. The poor guy said himself” I am close to burning out” and I could tell that he was close to giving up his education dream. As we talked I asked him about what was it he wanted and how he would like his life to be different. And, because I am that sort of person, I suggested a few strategies that might help him.

Now my driver actually vocalized one of the main issues most people have with achieving a good work/life balance. Our perception. You see my driver told me, “When I do something. I want to do it all in.” So if he wanted train then it had to be full on. Or school. Or work. And this is the major issue people often have with getting things balanced. Simply by aiming for too much all at once.

If you want to really get your life in balance you need to change your perspective and focus on the path to getting there. As I said to my driver. “The goal is not to be in training. The goal is to start”. 10 minutes each day is better than none. Once you have the habit then carve out 5 mins more. Then 5 minutes more. Often it’s not actually that we don’t have enough time it is that we are assuming that we need a lot more time than we really do to do the things we want. And therefore we don’t do them. It feels like an achievable mountain to climb. And honestly becomes an excuse.

So we have this block we need to get past. However if you can be honest with yourself and use (I am sorry to say) a smidgen of realism the way to finding work life balance can be found by taking just 5 simple actions.

Press the STOP button

So if you are also feeling that close to burnout sensation then you have probably spent a lot of time obsessing over the issues and the problems. Well that just makes them even harder to deal with. When that happens imagine you pressing an imaginary big ready STOP button. Put the breaks on. If you concentrate on how hard it is it will be hard. You and only you can pull yourself out of this negative cycle. But when you do it will give you space to think more clearly and thus take the first step to work/life balance, simply because you will have the head space to be able to start addressing the challenge.

Know what you want

So once you have pushed the big stop button it is time to fill your head with new thoughts. Solution thoughts. Take a quite coffee break brainstorm and write out the ways you would like your life to be different. What is it you actually wish you had the time to do? Give yourself an idea of what you would like your balanced life to look like. Here you can dream big. This is the space where you are allowed to describe the mountain of desires you have for your life.
Throw in the realism

The busier your life is and generally the more roles you adopt in your life, Boss, Mum, Volunteer, Team member the less time you have. You have to accept that right now this moment you cannot do it all. You cannot do 3 times a week at the gym for 2 hours at a time, or take that holiday abroad every year when you still have student debts to pay of and you are unemployed is not realistic. Yet. Now I don’t mean to say you can’t have everything you want. I truly believe you can live the life you imagine for yourself. However, part of the fun is the journey. Have a look at what you want and choose 1, 2 or 3 desires to focus upon. Make sure its something your soul really needs and will feel energized from. Remind yourself you are not giving up on the rest just putting them on the back burner for the moment.

Find the first step

So right now you are still looking at the whole mountain. Now you need to work out how you are gonna get there. Look for the first baby step you can take. So for example, if you want to start training again, decide which part of your day you can start to do 10 mins of training a day. Want more you time. Where can you have 15 mins in the week and what exactly will you do in that time? What is the first step you need to take to reduce the never ending to do list. Carve out just a little time each week to take that first baby step. You only have 24 hours a day, you can afford 10- 15 mins. Choose a first step for your desire.

Get going

Now you know what that first step is you have to take it. You have to give this to yourself. If not you can slump back into the woe is me live is so hard hole (sorry to be blunt but that’s the truth). You can either do what you can to solve the issue or you can blame someone else and feel rubbish. What do you choose? Get started on your baby steps and after a period of 4 weeks try and up the time by 5 or 10 mins. The more you carve out the time you need the more of a habit it becomes. It makes the time fly by easier and you not only feel less stressed you will feel empowered by taking charge of your life.

Manage your time

For me the ultimate work/life balance tool, and I suppose step 6, is time management. Managing your time supports you immensely to balance what is important to yourself, create healthy boundaries and maintain both self care and personal growth. There are lots of time management articles on the blog. Try starting here if you want time management tips

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And just remember the most important thing is to not overestimate what you are capable of doing in the time you have. Rather accepting the first steps, carrying them out, creating habits and then upping the bar. Slowly, slowly working your way to wards re balancing your life.

Have a great week <3

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.png

#lifelessons101 – Tell me something good – How the power of a good story can turn your day around

Yesterday my work life just went FUBAR (And for those you not in the know that means Fucked up beyond all recognition.) Needless to say it was a bad day. It has been a long time since I cried solidly for an hour. However despite how I was feeling I still had a job to do. Which meant clients that were in need of support, empowerment and inspiration. And yet there I was struggling to keep it together. (Remember your life coach is human too and sometime shit just happens). I needed to turn my energy around and get to a place of, if not happy, peaceful.

And that’s when I remembered something my BFF/ accountant / crafting compadre/ mini mom taught me. A line from one of her favorite films Me before you. And it is simply,

“Tell me something good”

I can’t remember the whole plot. As to this day I have never seen it.  (I promise I will mini mom). But for me ‘tell me something good’ up to this point had always been a way of celebrating in circle our achievements. It had always brought a smile to my face and a glow to my heart. Only there I was. In that moment not able to find anything good in my sadness and frustration. So I reached out.

Using the power of Facebook I made a post. Not asking for sympathy. Asking for stories. This is what I wrote.

Having a bad work day today and need some cheering up until I can get to through to the happy place later on tonight. So I am asking you all to “Tell me something good”

I want to hear all your good news and stories.

It always helps me when I am down to know that the people are love are having an awesome time of it “

The response was amazing.

Instead of the usual lovely hearts or hugs people send when you are having bad time. I got over 80 stories and pictures of people sharing with me the good in their lives. There was everything from spending the day with your daughter in the snow, to getting a new job, to loved ones coming home. People sharing lovely moments from their day and the things they were looking forward to. It was beautiful. Every time I checked back in someone else had posted something that made me smile. I saw conversations starting as people began to enjoy the moments everyone had shared. A from that reach out the sadness, the frustration began to transform. The good moments from everyone’s lives transformed both my dark moment and spread a good vibe into their days too.

It was so powerful. By the end of the day I was able to add my own something good story images (7).jpegfrom that day. The frown had been turned upside down and my tears to laughter.

Now I have always been an advocate of the healing and teaching power of stories. But yesterday was the strongest experience I have had of this. The transformation was so subtle and yet so powerful.

The only magic I can compare it with is how you feel when you see a small baby smile or a toddlers face light up with joy at snowdrops and puddles. It was incredibly inspiring.

And it made me want to share this moment with all of you. This is me telling you something good. Now it’s your turn. Transform your day, your mood by asking someone to tell you something good. On social media, or around the dinner table, or even a complete stranger. Let’s take the power of tell me something good around the world this weekend and see how many smiles we can inspire.

So before you go and begin this quest , please just take a moment here to tell me something good. Not because I am down or because you are. Just because sharing a good story is a beautiful thing to do.

Have a lovely weekend <3

Stories are medicine Tell me something good.....png