So, uh, that wasn’t meant to happen.
Almost two years ago, I landed in Melbourne. I switched from plane to driver’s seat. And I accidentally removed the breaks from my car entirely (I’ve never been confident with motor vehicles).
Okay, so it wasn’t a total fluke. It’s not as if someone shoved me in their suitcase and boom, there I was stranded in a new city, with absolutely no autonomy over my next move.
In fact, I think it was a case of too much autonomy. You give this to someone with a YES attitude and it can be dangerous. I’ll let you know that first-hand.
Two years ago, I planned to move cities. I sought to establish my freelance social media marketing business, and to build a life all the while.
What I didn’t plan for was this: taking no breaks, working during visits home to family, being inseparable from my laptop during most weekends and public holidays. I also didn’t plan to think about work, during every moment I wasn’t working.
For the past two years, my time has either been dedicated to client work, to my own blogging, to my passion for fitness, to looking after my relationships, and to taking the odd nap so that I could continue the same cycle.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE what I do. That’s kind of the problem. I don’t hate working. I don’t hate waking up everyday at 5am. And I don’t hate sitting down at 8pm to record a podcast either. For a long time, I thought that if you loved what you do, you don’t crave a break from it. And the necessity isn’t there either.
If you love it, you don’t get drained. You don’t get overworked. You enjoy taking it with you. You enjoy being accountable to your clients and you ENJOY being handed extra work when you’re at your absolute capacity.
Fast forward to today, and I’m a little more insightful. Also, a little embarrassed that it took me two years of shooting myself in the foot, to get to this position.
Here’s the thing. The lack of holiday I took for the past 2 years has nothing to do with my clients. It doesn’t even have to do with running my own business.
Okay, maybe a tiny bit. But only because I’m the boss.
As a result, I have only myself to blame. I set my own standards very highly, and I strive to be a constant “hero” for the people around me.
“I know you’re really busy, but do you think you could do this?”
“I know you’re heading away, but any chance you could get this done by Monday?”
My answer was, and always has been the same. Of course.
For so long, I was proud to share it. To be the one who turned around and said yes, in amongst a sea of folk shaking their head. It’s how I stood out — or so I told myself.
What I didn’t realise is this: you don’t have to have this mentality 24/7 to be good at what you do. You don’t have to say YES all the damn time, in order to be valuable. In fact, sometimes, you’re more valuable when you dare to say NO.
A week prior to my Bali trip, I warned my clients that I’d be heading away for two solid weeks of holiday. It was something I’d never done before (i.e. actually communicating that I was leaving and I wasn’t working).
Every other trip, I’d reminded myself that I was in a position to work from anywhere. So obviously, I was going to do that, right? If there’s no need to stop, why would I? Business as usual.
I don’t think I realised how important it was for me to communicate my departure, until I landed at Villa Gembira in Seminyak, Bali.
The mood totally changed.
I’d booked through Villa Finder only several weeks before (obviously still unsure whether I could commit to a holiday). I’d stumbled across the most idyllic villa, one that matched every aspect of my criteria for a rejuvenating pre-2020 getaway.
Finally, I was getting serious.
When we first stepped inside Villa Gembira, we were greeted by the warm smile of its owner. A man who would recurrently ask if everything in the villa was sufficient. I couldn’t affirm it enough. It was perfect.
You often wonder when booking through a marketplace, like Villa Finder, how truly invested they are in each of the villas they partner with.
A single hand-shake with the owner, and I already felt certain of my answer. The villa itself was spotless. Character-filled. Inviting. The staff, just as accommodating.
It was 9pm when we arrived. I looked at the pool, a mere glimmer in the darkness. I couldn’t wait to see how it looked in the morning light.
It wasn’t just the next morning, but many mornings after, that I woke with nothing on my mind but a beautiful breakfast, the prospect of a day in my bikini and a brand new set of harem pants.
For the first time in a long time, I didn’t wake with any urgency that something needed to be done. I didn’t need to be anywhere. I didn’t have time constraints. I didn’t wake up and get out of bed the moment my eyes were open.
I turned over, encapsulated and safe within a Balinese mosquito net, and I just breathed. I didn’t check my phone. I didn’t flick through my schedule.
Instead, I asked myself a most foreign question: what’s the first thing that you want to do today?
No, but seriously, what is it?
It’s a wondrous thing when you haven’t asked yourself this question in a long-time. There’s a child-like giddiness that comes with the answer.