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On getting off the grid...and conquering fear

Written by Lesli Boldt on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 12:42PM
Filed in: Business Women Vacation International Travel Creativity
Comments: 1

I just got back from three weeks’ vacation in Chile and Argentina — my first proper vacation in over three years.

That sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? Why the hell did I leave it so long?

It’s not easy for many of us to unplug. Just look around you as you’re walking down the street each day – people glued to their smartphones on the sidewalk, or talking and texting as they drive from one place to another.

For entrepreneurs – particularly those of us running small businesses or sole proprietorships – it’s even harder, for one simple reason: if we don’t work, we don’t make any money.

Of course, there are other barriers that keep us at home more than we should be: guilt about leaving clients and projects in mid-stream; guilt about all the income we’re not creating for our teams; fear about whether or not clients will still want to work with us when we return…and fear about when we’ll actually start making money again.

It’s not brave if you’re not scared

Taking time away from your business (and I don’t just mean taking your laptop with you on holiday, but truly taking time away from the business) takes courage, the ability to be bold and take risks, and faith that everything will be OK while you’re away.

These entrepreneurial qualities are – perhaps not coincidentally – the qualities needed for travel to new and foreign places. In making the decision to take this trip, I not only had to conquer fears about leaving my business for a month, but also, my fears about visiting a new and very different place, changing money on the dolar blue market (by the way, I have a good story to go with this one), and of course, personal safety as a woman travelling solo.

There is an endless amount of research that shows taking time off work is good for us: good for our bodies, good for our creativity and our ability to function well at our work. And yet, we still find it so hard to take the time off.

People will give you lots of reasons - they're super busy, super important, the company can't function without them - but I think it’s really the fear that holds us back.

Fear was the biggest hurdle I had to overcome in order to be able to get away in the first place...and overcoming the things that scared me on the road was the biggest takeaway from this trip – well, that and a commitment to serve fresh-cut salsa with bread at dinner parties, like they do at restaurants in Chile (#awesome).

I had to get over my fear of speaking bad Spanish…because most of the people I met spoke no English at all. I had to keep myself from freaking out after I partially dislocated my shoulder on the hardest hike of my life near Tucuman, Argentina...and thank God for Jorge, the trekking guide, or I’d still be there now. And, I had to conquer my fear of travelling alone, a fear fed by a number of people before I left, with their cautions about the mysterious dangers of South America.

For the record, I never once feared for my personal safety in Chile and Argentina – partly because I travelled smart, and also because people were kind and generous...and I had a wonderful guide and made great new friends along the way who made the hard parts a lot easier. My clients were also incredibly supportive of me taking time off. In fact, most of them encouraged me to go and were happy to put their projects on hold for me. What was I afraid of?

Fear is a powerful and persuasive emotion, one that keeps you in your comfort zone and doing the things you’ve always done, the way you’ve always done them. Travel – or any activity that requires you to get outside life as usual, and to live and think differently than you do at home – is a great way to push your boundaries and see just about everything in your life from a different perspective.

My goal is to bring more of that adventurous spirit - to find the courage to be bold, to try new things, to “creatively problem-solve”, to just go for it and have faith that I’ll land on my feet – to my life and work now that I'm back home.

No fear.

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  1. Sounds like the right time to plan the next one! Go ahead, you know you want to! Courageous and spirited - that's what you bring to work and life. Go for it!

    Written on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 16:43hrs by Rie