During our 60-day Euro Adventure every day was brand new.
While we tried our best to keep most of our good habits rolling, it wasn’t like we were at home with an alarm clock going off at 6am, followed by a workout, followed by morning coffee, followed by a shower, followed by work time.
Every day was different, with its own set of unique places to see and people to interact with.
Creating space for the unexpected
It was unexpected – definitely not planned – but our lack of routine actually helped me discover and learn a lot, not just about our business setup, but also about me personally.
It was like I had the opportunity to see everything through a new lens, and that’s one thing I love about travel so much.
Lessons learned from our time away
I want share a few of my lessons learned with you from our time away because I now know how critical it is to give yourself space.
When we’re in our everyday routines, it’s easy to say that we’ll take a break later, or we’ll give ourselves a moment to reflect tomorrow. But that usually doesn’t happen.
I can guarantee you that none of these lessons would have stuck had I just been at home, in my everyday routine. They came as a result of taking a step back, reflecting, and allowing myself space to discover some really huge things about the way we’re running our business – and the way I’m living my life.
Lesson 1: Our business is set up to RUN
We know our business is set up pretty darn well. We attend conferences, travel for a week or 10 days at a time, and with just a little bit of upkeep here and there our business still does its thing.
We even took two weeks off, completely unplugged, to travel Europe back in 2014.
Our business didn’t sink, so that’s a good thing.
Luckily we have an amazing team in place to prevent that.
But this time was different.
This time we proved to ourselves that our business is not just set up pretty darn well – it’s set up to RUN… pretty much without us.
We spent 2 legitimately full days working while we were in Europe.
The other 58 we spent an hour – maybe 1.5 hours – on upkeep: checking email, jumping on social media, and making sure our team was set up for success.
We barely touched the business, and honestly, when it comes to:
- Our bottom line,
- Our connection with our audience, and
- Keeping up on our promise to our customers…
In fact, I might argue that our connection with our audience grew stronger because we were able to share our experiences with them along the way.
This is an incredible feeling, and it makes you think pretty hard about what you do when you’re at home working 8 hours a day…
Now there was definitely a time when our business required that. Heck, not just 8, but in many cases 9, 10, 11, even 12+ hour days.
But that was then.
This lesson has really forced me to consider how much of my time spent working on the business when I’m at home is productive and meaningful, and how much of it is just keeping me busy.
You know, the whole 80/20 rule – but like 10x.
So as we head into 2019 I’ll definitely be keeping my work activities tight; I’ve decided that there’s no room for wasted time or busy work in my future.
Lesson 2: Smile more, worry less
It’s something I’ve definitely felt before, and it’s something I always try and remind myself of in difficult situations.
Whether I’ve come up against a frustration, or am feeling down and out about something, our time away taught me that not everything has to be so serious.
Not everything has to be stressful, or cause me to second-guess myself 100 times.
A majority of the time, what we’re experiencing – all things considered – probably isn’t that bad.
Being away made me realize how petty a lot of my woes are. Is it really that serious? Should I really be losing sleep over this?
This is a big one for me, because I tend to obsess over decisions, choices, and frankly insignificant worries – worries that, in reality, aren’t going to make or break my life (or the lives of those around me).
Life is a big responsibility, and it should be treated as such.
But don’t take it too seriously. You’ll miss out on how beautiful and fun it truly is.
Lesson 3: We can learn so much from others
I can’t think back to single travel situation where I felt grossly disrespected or as though someone was being unacceptably rude to me.
But for some reason this seems to be the American experience in so many other cultures. It’s one of the first questions I get asked on the heels of traveling: “Weren’t people so rude in that country?”
During our time away, I recognized several situations where I could have felt disrespected, or like maybe someone was being rude, but the reason I didn’t feel that way: because the more I travel the more I realize what it’s like to communicate cross-culturally.
This isn’t just a verbal thing, either. Body language, the way we move about throughout the day, the way we greet people, the way we serve others (and are served), the way we consume information, the way we handle different situations… everything is largely a result of how we’re brought up culturally.
I think our move to Puerto Rico has also taught me this in a big way, too, and it prepared me well for several situations where I kind of felt like walking out of a shop or restaurant because of how I interpreted people reacted to my presence.
But I didn’t.
I was super uncomfortable in many situations – maybe I couldn’t understand them, or they couldn’t understand me – but I sat in that discomfort and I learned a lot from it.
In every situation, by the time I was walking out the door, I realized there was really nothing to be uncomfortable or afraid of.
Lesson 4: I am SO LUCKY
There are a lot of really beautiful countries in Europe. A LOT.
But we traveled to a few areas that honestly weren’t nice – at all. A couple were even pretty sketchy looking.
But just because they weren’t nice or maybe felt a little sketchy at times didn’t mean we didn’t enjoy our time there, or find beauty through a different lens.
It made me realize that sometimes we’re so caught up in what’s happening in “our world” that we forget to recognize how massive the whole world is – and how lucky we are.
There are a lot of people who are suffering right now.
And there are a lot of people who have no idea what it’s like to open up a laptop or shop online or FaceTime with their family. In many cases, these people might be happier – perhaps way more present – than many who do have these privileges. I’m not here to judge which is better.
But what I do know is that this trip showed me a new path to daily gratitude that I haven’t practiced before.
I’m so grateful for the way I grew up – not because I think it’s terrible if people didn’t grow up that way, but because I now recognize that very few have the same privilege.
Lesson 5: There is so much opportunity out there
Circling back to Lesson 1, once I realized that I really don’t have 8 hours worth of work every day, I started considering something I haven’t before:
What other opportunities are out there for me?
Entrepreneurs On Fire isn’t going anywhere, but now that we’ve built a solid foundation and have a team in place and systems that help our business run without us, what do I want to do with my time?
What other passions can I explore?
What goals do I have – not just for business, but for my life?
This has been the most unexpected lesson, because while all 4 other lessons have teased me at various other points on my journey (not to this extent, but discovering them on our travels wasn’t the first time I had thought them), I’ve never seriously considered what I might pursue outside of this business.
And that’s really exciting!
A New Year
While I don’t like to think of a New Year as the only time you can start fresh, I am thankful to have learned these lessons at a time when new beginnings are “in the air”.
I can feel a new chapter on the horizon, and I look forward to turning that page.
So here’s cheers to YOUR New Year, where there are many more lessons to be learned and discovered ahead, and so much to be grateful for.