"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again"
In the summer of 2017 I made a decision to change my life, reduce my stress levels and move to Southern Europe. By the end of the year, I thought I had found just the right place. Turns out that I still had some life lessons to learn though, in patience, not giving up, and keeping focused on the end goal. Four more trips, three more properties and six months later, I finally did find the perfect place!
This is the original blog post I wrote, excited for the year ahead. Which did turn out to be a great year eventually - different, but even better than anticipated in the end. As is most often the way, if you allow it to be.
Face your fears
I ended 2016 challenging myself to drive abroad for the first time, heading to Holland to see in 2017 with some of my family who live there. A familiar route, one I’ve done many times as a passenger, but a challenge nonetheless as I’ve had to overcome some big mental blocks about driving, having lost my confidence badly a while back. But facing up to the fear made it go away, and before I knew it in February 2017 I’d booked a trip to a remote spot in Crete where I needed a car to get around, and spent the week battling with a gear knob that kept coming off in my hand and not being able to put the car in reverse. But I managed, somehow, and even managed to enjoy it. (Note to self: the promise of sun will make me do anything).
And that was it, I was off! October saw a trip to mainland Greece and having to negotiate Thessaloniki, the second biggest city after Athens, in rush hour traffic in a Fiat 500. In November, I took a sprint to Southwest France in my own right-hand drive car, which was all very jolly until those tiresome péage stations, only accessible from the left hand window and only then if you have arms as long as Mr. Tickle. A couple of weeks later I was bombing round Portugal in a brand new pumped up Smart ForFour, a far cry from the tiny automatic City Smart (the car that originally helped me to conquer my driving demons and get back on the road, as it happens).
Letting go and moving on
And when I came back from Portugal, I made an offer on a property I’d like to buy out there so I can start a new business venture (well, an extension of my existing business), and put my house here in Tunbridge Wells on the market to fund it.
Somehow, giving myself that one little push at the end of last year freed me in more ways than I realised. Not only has it enabled me to travel and explore different countries much more easily, but it’s shifted my whole mindset. I let go of something throughout the year, but found a load of chutzpah along the way. I also found a load of allergies and had to let go of a lot of food (and gin!) I used to love, but perhaps that is a lesson in balance, a reminder of the yin and the yang of life.
So reflecting back on the year, I’ve learnt that at some point you just have to say “sod it” and get on and do it. Let go of your mental blocks and trust that somehow it will work out ok, and if you can learn to relax too, you’ll even enjoy it. Stop living out your life according to other people’s rules and norms, or by measuring yourself against others. Realise that this is your life, and you have only one shot at it. It’s your choice to make it a good one, whatever that may mean to you.
Make it happen in 2018
My aim for Portugal is to set up a boutique style retreat where you can explore career and life changes in a relaxing and comfortable environment, so that you too can say “sod it” and let go of your mental blocks. I’m looking forward to sharing the adventure with you as it progresses. 2017 was a great year, 2018 is going to be even better. I’ll make sure of it. Will you?