How I Failed (and How I Fixed It)

Posted by   Annette on    February 27, 2014

medium_1813663560.jpgI learned some very important lessons in the past couple of months. 

I learned 'em by that legendarily efficient method of learning: failing.

Here's how.

In December and January, I logged more than four thousand miles on the highway -- local driving aside. I took two intercontinental flights and three domestic flights.

I spent that time in passionate concern with checking off boxes: two major trade shows; BASE jumps from anything convenient and tall; a big ol' skydiving boogie (with balloon jumps by 7 a.m. every morning); tunnel training; hustling up to SFO to nail down a long-term-traveler visa that had to be done in person; knocking it out of the park in production on my beloved Annie Awards; trying to work in daily paragliding outings in the mountains over Santa Barbara.

That list reads like a laundry list of personal growth, no?

Uh uh. Nope.

I spent almost the entire time going through the motions, relaxing into nothing, stamping each item "done" and moving robotically down the list. It looked right on paper, but it was entirely wrong for me, and boy -- I felt it.

What I did wrong:

  • I didn't respect my need for time. I need to take a moment to approach challenges with a sense of method and control, and I put myself in situations where I only had time to throw myself headlong into the breach. While it was good to know that I'm capable of doing so, the added tension prevented the deep learning I enjoy from my naturally more procedural style. 
  • I didn't respect my need for space. I'm a classic introvert. Spending time around almost all other humans exhausts me. I only recharge in solitude, so two months of constant un-aloneness was withering.
  • I didn't respect my need for routine. When I travel, I like to spend at least a month wherever I'm going, so I can establish a rhythm to each day that includes productive work, yoga practice, excellent nutrition and athletic advancement. The mix never comes together smoothly in the first week; moving around every other day in January and February made me feel frantic, stiff, angry and clumsy.
  • I didn't respect my goals. I didn't love them. I was just doing them. Result: I did every single thing I said I would, but the moments of ecstatic flow were depressingly few and far between.

On reviewing this stuff, I started to get a little nailbitey. After all, the calendar was clear on one thing: the creaking, shrieking carnival ride was about to start all over again. The departure date for Chile was set for the first weekend of March. I had exactly one month -- February, the "little guy" of the year -- to take all the knots out of my hose and get ready for an explosive move into the new season.

I rolled up my sleeves. Game on.


What I did to fix it:

  • I stayed put. This turned out to be the hardest part; however, since my passport was still being processed at the French visa office, I didn't have a choice. It turned out that I achingly needed these wingclipped weeks.
  • I took back my time and every inch of space. I logged out of Facebook on my phone and my computer and released myself entirely from the responsibility to be social. I went out once -- and allowed myself to go home at the precise moment I got bored (just after 10).
  • I emphasized routine. More than "emphasized," I committed to it. I committed to a robust sleep schedule. I committed to a strict detox and moved my daily practice to the guided, heated Baptiste yoga at the (extraordinary) Salt Lake Power Yoga. I committed to a weekly massage. I committed to putting every minor appointment on my calendar so I'd never have the vague sense of missing a beat.
  • I set aside a few goals, and reached for new ones. I set aside expensive tunnel training in order to make room for time on the ski slopes, which for me is simpler, calmer and less emotionally loaded while still richly edifying. I took one easygoing trip to the Perrine Bridge to stay current, but didn't stress out about getting there every weekend. I ramped up my German studies. I got my PADI Open Water scuba diving license in order to massage myself back into a humble, open beginner's mindset.

One of the most adrenalizing aspects of the location independent lifestyle is its dynamism: a daily dialing-in; an active commitment to the creation of your one wild and precious life.

It doesn't always work. My stuff doesn't always work. But the sacred responsibility that you take in hand when you steer into the offroad wilderness of lifestyle design empowers you to try again and again and again, with all the universe's magical tools of intention at your disposal.

At the end of Februrary, I feel entirely renewed. Scrubbed-out. Luxuriously stretched. Fulfilled to the just-right mark.


...And grateful for hitting the wall of fail that pointed me back in the right direction.