If you were told that booking an impulsive vacation in the middle of your busiest project/launch/season was the key to your success, would you believe it and do it? I’ll bet you’re wondering how the heck that adds up, so let me take you back to January 2016…

On a cold and dreary Monday morning, I woke up feeling awful and aching all over. My back was stiff and my neck and jaw were tight—the all-too-familiar indicators of stress and overwhelm in my life.

I was in the midst of that fresh and frenzied entrepreneurial phase of launching a brand new program, completely rebranding my company, giving my website a major facelift, and actively signing on several new clients. Needless to say, I was rolling with the adrenaline and plowing forward with laser-like focus.

But that morning, it finally hit me as my body screamed for my attention, “Enough is enough!!”

What could I do? I was literally in the middle of making my dreams come to life, but I knew I needed to take care of myself first if I wanted anything else to fall into place. What I needed was a vacation, so I said to myself, “Who says I can’t launch my new brand overhaul and go on vacation at the same time?”

So, on that bleak winter morning, I booked a 2-week hiking trip in the highlands of Scotland.

Isle of Skye

I went against every voice of judgment in my head that told me I had to listen to fear and do things a certain way:

-You can’t go on vacation until you finish this launch! Everything you’ve worked for will fail!
-Do you really think you can combine work and play? You won’t get results that way!
-You’re being illogical; you just went skiing. Save the play and get back to work.
-Just put your head down and get it done. You can rest in a few months!

Talk about irony. Those thoughts acted like they were trying to help me reach my goals instead of goofing off on a premature vacation.

But in reality, I was telling myself:

-You can’t have fun and feel great while you’re focused on working for your business.
-You don’t deserve a vacation yet because you haven’t earned it.
-You have to push yourself and create results because otherwise, you’re not worth much.

That morning when I booked my vacation, I made a promise to myself: No more delaying adventure, joy, and well-being until work is done. When you love what you do, it doesn’t have to be a choice between work and play; it’s all an adventure!

So, I cheerfully booked those flights, planned some time for fun in my calendar for that week, and scheduled a session with my acupuncturist. By doing this, I was forcing myself to deal with the real issue at the heart of what was standing between me and having everything I wanted:

It was all about learning to truly love myself.

Exquisite self-care = self-love.

By pushing past the fears and logical stories that were fighting to hold me back from prioritizing me first, I was training myself to focus on what really matters. What does success mean if you have to sacrifice your well-being, sense of adventure, and time for fun and relaxation?

Those 2 weeks of hiking in the highlands and being one with nature completely rejuvenated my soul. I spent my days hiking miles upon miles around lochs, exploring picturesque lakes, and falling in love with the Isle of Skye, with the locals, and with myself.

St. Andrews West Sands

Although I was acting out my choice to go on vacation, fear tried to follow me to Scotland disguised as logic and reason saying, “You should stay in the hotel and work today,” or “You might regret not completing that now.”

But I had prepared myself for this head game, and I silenced that nonsense, trusted myself, and explored to my heart’s content.

I discovered that the more I prioritize myself, the easier it becomes. By the end of the trip, I was thrilled at scheduling part of my time for focused business building and devoting the rest of my time to exploration. The more I prioritized myself, the more I experienced what it looked and felt like to “have it all.”

On that trip, I successfully launched my rebranded company, automated many parts of my business, and returned home from “vacation” feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and inspired.

Not surprisingly, I found out that the more I prioritize me:

The more love I have to give;
The better equipped I am to serve my clients;
The more successful and satisfied I am in all facets of life;
The more connected I am with my own soul and with others, and;
The greater tales of exploration and adventure I have to experience and share.

Forward to eighteen months later:

I took what I learned on that trip and made it the foundation of my work-life balance. You see, there is something very special about travel. We get caught up in our routines and start believing that we are stuck—stuck doing things a certain way, stuck listening to logic, stuck being too busy for fun and rejuvenation, stuck choosing work over play, stuck doing what makes us unhappy… Thankfully, the new experiences and adventures of travel break us out of that comfort zone and eradicate that false story by helping us to see how un-stuck we really are!

Fairy Pools

So, in 2017 alone, I’ve unplugged for 10 days to lead a fantastic island retreat in the Dominican Republic, my boyfriend and I have gone on a spur-of-the moment vacation to Switzerland and celebrated his birthday with a relaxing week in Mexico, I’ve relished multiple charming visits with my family on the coast of New England and with my boyfriend’s family in Michigan, and I’ve enjoyed frequently traveling out to sunny San Diego for my coaching company.

If you’re feeling stuck—like your life is misaligned and you don’t have any space for fun or rest—take a look in the mirror.

Your relationship with yourself is a representation of who you are as a leader and change-maker in your own life.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. If you believed that you are enough just as you are—that your worth is not defined by what you do or what you accomplish—what choices would you make differently? What would love choose instead of fear?
  2. How can you start treating yourself the way you wish to be treated?
  3. What are 3 ways you can choose to be a model of self-love for yourself and the ones you love this week?
  4. Whether it’s nature or something else that connects you with your soul (dancing, art, music, exercise, etc.), what adventure will you embark on this week in service of self-love?

Are you with me?

The first step is to be courageously honest with yourself. What is the current state of your relationship with yourself, and what is the first step you will take to change it for the better?

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Catherine Wood is the Founder at Unbounded Potential and an IVY Member (DC).

Note from the author: “I would also love to invite the IVY community to join me in the Dominican Republic in 2018! I am doing a second annual coaching retreat there in January (think coaching workshops, yoga, zip lining, Latin dancing, and new friendships), and would love to extend the invite out to this incredible group of folks to change the world by changing themselves. Here’s the link!”

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