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I left my life behind for 30 days and this is what I learned

I am writing this from London. It’s been just 30 days since I left my old life and apparently this trip will be cut short by a couple of days.

My time away has made me sit down and reflect on my life, the past month and where I’m going from here.

I feel blessed that I even have the ability to leave everything behind for a while and go find myself and the next step. Before I keep going, I need to thank my team at Streetwise, my agency. We do outsourced marketing services for major clients in different industries and I can’t thank them enough for stepping up. The last month has proven we have room to grow and a team to grow with.

Finding myself didn’t include 2 weeks of nature or silence or yoga sessions. I just needed to get out of my routine, be alone, think, write and read (or listen to as much audio content as I could).

Life takes its toll on all of us. Without even noticing, we pick up habits, big and small. Look at the week ahead you have planned for yourself, and you’ll see that we have ways of passing the time, the week, the year. All we need to do is fill up our calendar with things to do and we are good to go.

I love my morning habits – waking up, going to my favorite specialty coffee spot and enjoying some good conversations. Then there are morning meetings with clients, lunch and, look at that, the week is already over. Sometimes it’s busy and most days are like a rat race. The weekend is slower, habits are different but still a routine. I want to live my life on my time and my schedule. I want to own my time.

In order to do that, I felt I needed to go away and dream it all up again

An excuse

I needed one, and I found two good ones. The catalyst for this trip came from EO, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, of which I am a member and sit on the regional council. After almost 2 years, 50 of us decided to meet in Lisbon to work on our European strategy, and it was epic in so many ways.

Staying for WebSummit after was also a good idea, but my main reason for going away was an idea I’ve had for a while: to write a new book.

It all started with a book title I came up with a few months back. I have already written two novels and have been thinking of ideas for a business/self-help book for a few years. For me, the writing process starts with a good title and some ideas.

The title was “Fuck the Slides.” I know, good huh?

The idea for the book was to develop my technique and help entrepreneurs build a pitch that would help them raise money. The second step of my process is taking notes on my phone and then drafting a short layout. Once that is done, I can start writing.

All I needed was time, so it just seemed fit to keep traveling after Lisbon. Since landing in London, I have walked about 600,000 steps, listened to 5 audio books, heard countless podcasts and signed new clients from Germany, South Africa, London and New-York (one from London is still not signed), but most importantly, I have written over 30,000 words and made some life-altering decisions.

I thought I would share some of my key insights from this month, and hope you manage to adopt at least one for yourself.

Check your habits

I love coffee. Like, really love coffee. Or should I say, I’m more addicted to the ritual of visiting my favorite coffee place everyday at 7am, reading the newspaper, talking to people and maybe having a second cup of coffee. But in the last few months, I noticed it was starting to feel like an exhausting ritual. I had to switch things up.

It’s your time

Sometimes it seems like my time is just not mine anymore. I react too often, rather than planning and creating a schedule. Even while in London, I noticed something scary. You see, when I landed in London, I only had one thing on my calendar for the whole month, and guess what? Things got crazy busy in no time. I started to feel stressed and the pressure was continuous. Saying no is something I still struggle with, but life is about learning, right? I need to learn how to manage my time. I am going back home determined to give my time first priority on the calendar and assign specific times for everything else.

The world can wait

We are too responsive, too fast, too often. Nothing bad will happen if we just disappear and fall off the grid for a few hours. Manage expectations and tell people you are not available. During my first week in London, I cancelled my cell phone package. That meant while I was roaming the streets, I was not available. It was so wonderful walking around, knowing there is no point in taking my phone out of my pocket because nothing will have changed. And nothing changed. Just let the world know when you will be back.

Finish before you start

It was early in the morning and still dark. Wake up, boil water, wash my face, brush my teeth, get coffee and open my laptop. I started writing before anything else, getting one piece of content or one chapter done, anything. I started the day with a win. The last few days have been great, as I pick an idea I jotted down the day before and just start writing. The same routine can be established for your morning fitness habits (my next goal is 100, 250 and 1,000 push-ups straight). Just do it first thing in the morning or set aside a specific block of time for it.

I love running in the evenings rather than in the morning because then my work day is done and I love getting out to shake off the day and clear my head for the evening.

You need a destination

I walked for hours every day, just roaming the streets, shops, gardens and museums, thinking, walking, listening. I needed to experience something else than what I was used to seeing. But I also needed to know what direction I’m headed in and what I’m trying to accomplish: a new book, new projects, new life? Moving to Lisbon? I set some guidelines and boundaries, and from these walks and thoughts, I found my destination and the road to getting there. Part of it was also sharing my journey with you here.

I am going back home with the reminder that I come first, and the person to tell that to is me, no one else. It’s up to you to take care of yourself.

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