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Kristen Leigh | WordPress Web Design Studio | Business Lessons Business and Life Lessons I Learned in Thailand

how traveling changed my business

Travel is always a life altering experience. No matter how many times you get onto a plane or board a train, you change in some way every time you’re in a new location. You learn about another culture, you learn some phrases in another language, or you learn about yourself.

My trip to Thailand was the first extended trip I’ve ever taken alone. I expected to learn a lot of business related things… you know, stuff about being an entrepreneur and whatnot. And I did learn some business related things, networked with other entrepreneurs, and met an amazing group of ladies who are working to build their own online businesses. But the most important thing I’m walking away from Thailand with is a whole lot of self growth.

NO ONE PLACE WILL EVER BE “HOME”

I grew up in Maine and lived there for 21 years so I’ll always be from Maine. Then I moved to Massachusetts and I’ve lived there for 6 years. But Maine and Massachusetts don’t feel like home to me. They just feel like places to stay until I can go somewhere else.

Every time I travel somewhere new it just further solidifies for me that I’m not supposed to put down roots in one single place. It’s actually kind of crazy to me that we’re expected to pick a place on the map and say to ourselves, “yep, this is where I’ll spend the next 50 years.” Quite honestly, the thought of that terrifies me.

There is so much world out there to see. There is so much to learn. There is so much growing to do. How do you pick just one place?

What this did for my business

New environments are inspiring. I felt more inspired to work on my business and in my business while in Thailand. It was a refresh I didn’t expect to have but it was very much needed.

Staying in the same place feels stagnant both in life and in business. Changing environments challenged me to change my perspective, not only on the people I was meeting but also on my business.

When I got home, I got rid of a huge client because it’s what I needed to do to change my business in the direction I wanted it to go. Staying in one place too long becomes comfortable but it also keeps me personally from growing and I figured out this is the case for both my personal life and for my business.

Change = Growth

I’M ACTUALLY REALLY TERRIBLE AT DOING NOTHING AND I NEED TO WORK ON IT

I’ve known this about myself for a while. Beach vacations and I don’t really get along. There’s too much relaxing and too much valuable time spent doing nothing. I like to be on the go or having something to do almost at all times.

In Thailand I spent a bunch of time at the co-working space. Some mornings I got there at 8 AM and I didn’t leave until 7 PM. Some days I spent most of that time working but other days I practiced spending time with myself. I got pretty good at eating meals by myself or taking smoothie breaks alone without feeling awkward. I brought my Kindle and started reading while I ate. (For anyone who hasn’t read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, do it now. You’ll thank me.)

I began to enjoy the act of just sitting and relaxing. I still couldn’t do it in the comfort of my own apartment in Thailand and I probably will struggle doing it in the RV but it’s something I’m trying to incorporate into each day.

What this did for my business

Usually when I’m having trouble doing nothing, I work on my business. I write blog posts or create graphics or schedule content or optimize this and that. But that means I feel like I’m always working.

And as much as I love my business, I don’t want to always be working.

Realizing that it’s okay to do nothing, just read a good book or sit and relax changed my relationship with my business. As much as I was working in Thailand, I wasn’t always working or I wasn’t always thinking about work and guess what… my business didn’t blow up! My clients weren’t waiting for me to do things.

Everything was fine.

Taking time off = Good for business

NO MATTER HOW PRODUCTIVE I THINK I AM WHEN I’M WORKING FROM HOME, I CAN ALWAYS BE MORE PRODUCTIVE

I would take working from home over working in a corporate office any day. When I first started working from home, I felt more productive because I didn’t have anyone to chat with and there weren’t bags of chips in the kitchen calling me to take a snack break. Then I got introduced to co-working spaces and I realized that on a scale of 1-10, my productivity level at home is around a 6 or 7.

Being surrounded by a bunch of people who are either working for themselves, working remote, or both is pretty inspiring. I felt more focused and energized working at the co-working space next to all of these people. My productivity level went from a 6 or 7 to a 10 most days.

What this did for my business

Now I know that if I have something that really needs to be done but that I don’t really feel like doing, I need to put myself in the right environment. Changing my environment makes me more inspired. Being around other people working on their own terms makes me more productive.

I’ve figured out what works best for me. Do I need to do something creative? Go to a coffee shop. Do I need to do something mindless? Put on some music or turn on a show as background noise. Do I need to do something ridiculously important? Remove all distractions and put myself in an inspiring and productive environment.

IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE LIKE A CAT AND TO ACTUALLY OPEN UP TO PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW THAT WELL

You know how sometimes cats are standoffish when they meet new people? They need to slowly get to know you before they let you give them back scratches. They need to know that they can trust you before letting you into their life.

That’s me. I’m a cat (and I don’t even really like cats).

I’m an introvert through and through which means I don’t normally connect with people right off. I usually let people talk about themselves and I don’t really offer up much about myself. I’m also not comfortable introducing myself to new people so creating friendships with complete strangers is extra hard.

Being in Thailand for only a month, I figured out pretty quick that I needed to let people in or I would be hanging out by myself for a whole thirty days. So I did it and I survived. One thing I kept telling myself was that if they didn’t like me, I would never have to see them again after this trip so what’s the harm in being myself?

What this did for my business

I learned that it’s okay to reach out to people who may or may not be interested in my services. If they’re not interested, they’ll ignore me or say no. But there’s always the chance they will be interested and if they are – THAT’S AMAZING!

Instead of hiding, I’m showing up more. I’m reaching out more. I’m doing more instead of hiding and being timid like a cat. And it’s done wonders for my business.

I’ve landed more clients and I’ve made new connections that I never would have imagined.

WALKING EVERYWHERE IS BETTER THAN TAKING A VEHICLE

Even in the Thailand heat I enjoyed walking almost everywhere. I walked to and from the co-working space every day and I walked to eat multiple times a day. Sometimes I just aimlessly walked around the streets because… why not? Sure, sometimes I ended my walk sweating like crazy in clothes that weren’t workout clothes but I didn’t even care (pretty much everyone was sweating their asses off anyway).

What this did for my business

These walks were time to myself. They allowed me to clear my head or prepare for the day without thinking about work. Now I know that if I feel overwhelmed or I’ve been working for too many hours in a row or I’m going cross-eyed from looking at a screen, that I just need to take a walk. Clear my head. And then start again.

Travel Lessons

Thailand was an awesome experience and I can’t wait to go back. I loved the culture, the food, the people… but mostly, I loved what I took away from the experience. I loved what this solo trip taught me about myself and how it transformed my business.

-Kristen

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