So after 3 weeks in London ( yes I was there during the Olympics too), the longest vacation I have had in about 5 years, I was 97% unplugged and took the time to enjoy the peace and quiet or as my mother used to say, to make my ears eat some grass. And you know what I accepted while I was in London, that as obvious as it was, I was the one creating more stress in my life by saying yes to too many people, projects and things and taking on stuff I had no goddam business taking on. Yes the rescuer, martyr,fixer, save the world role. It’s probably a side effect from growing up around strong, take-on-the world warrior women – my mother, sister, aunts, cousins and close friends. Amazing women in their own right,who at times just had to be strong because there was no other choice. They were women who helped, nurtured, made things happen at times out of nothing, for themselves, their families and for their communities.

Now while I know I’ve come from good, strong stock, I also grew up thinking that this was the only way to be. I often  felt guilty or was made to feel guilty and selfish for being any other way, and well, I conformed for peace sake for years, even as my true self busted out on a regular basis. Trust me, trying to be two people at the same time, is damn tiring and makes you effing miserable.

Choosing to put yourself first is seen as heresy by many. Thinking and living from the position of being self-full (Iyanla Vanzant’s answer to being called selfish) would have gotten me into endless arguments or casted aside as a philosophical leper especially by women with kids. I have birthed none, so clearly I need to shut up as I just don’t understand.

I got it though, when Iyanla said that you can’t really give the best of yourself to anyone or anything, serving from a half empty cup. Who the hell benefits when you are tattered and dragging on the floor anyway? She said, You gotta full your cup first, and what’s in the cup is yours, then what flows over the cup is for everybody else. Women are not socialised that way, we are taught to me the silent, stiff upper lip burden bearers. I got lost in living that way for years in my personal and business life, now I’ve started again to choose me first, to put the oxygen mask on Ingrid, first, to have a life, be successful, healthy, happy first….then I’ll be able to give the very best of myself to everyone and everything else. I’m getting better at doing this, guilt free.

Live Local. Achieve Global. And Still Offend Many.

Added to that, I realised that I had begun suppressing too many of my thoughts, too much of myself to make a situation go smoother, to be liked by someone or just to avoid confrontation especially in doing business in Jamaica. I was told consistently you can’t say no, you can’t fire a client and try not to offend this one, as that one is linked to that family or that company and you do live here. Now ironically, while being that way for a while taught me the value of strategic silence, I realised that trying to live a life and do business in a way that doesn’t offend anyone is the secret sauce to mediocrity and putting the power of your results in the hands of other people, where it doesn’t belong.

Further, who the hell said I only wanted to do business in Jamaica (nothing wrong with that if that is your goal), but please make zero assumptions about my ambitions, they always included Jamaica but always extended beyond these shores. Plus my small successes so far, had already taken me there. What had also become super clear to me, is that you are as good as your network and you have a choice in who is part of that local, region, global network of yours. You are the curator and the people in it, must match your business values, mission and ambitions. And by creating and interacting in that chosen network of yours, you WILL offend others, a few people will not like you or that network and honey, that’s quite alright, just keep believing in yourself and keepa steppin’.

Live Your Life. Make Mistakes. Embrace the Insights.

It’s a helluva thing when you choose to really be yourself, some people don’t like it you nuh, but guess what, I am so ok with people not liking me, not liking how and what I do, more than ever before. PLus it also means that they and I don’t share the same values and mission, so they aren’t supposed to be in myworld anyway. Or maybe I’ve just found my back to the Ingrid who didn’t really give a damn what anyone else thought or had to say about her. Now that’s freedom!

I know for sure that in me being 100% authentic every single day, in each moment and in every friend, family and business interaction, I will continue to attract the right people, best opportunities to my world and that will make me happier and even more successful as I have defined it. Not success as my family has defined, as Jamaica or even the world has defined it, but as Ingrid has defined it. So don’t worry about where you are now or the mistakes you have made, as this quote says,” You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don’t think your way into becoming yourself.” – Anne Lamott

Your World Doesn’t End When You Unplug.

Then while in London I unplugged from business like I had never before while away and surprisingly…well…not….the world, my world did not crash and burn. LOL. Now don’t get me wrong I attended 3 meetings and two events that I really wanted to go to. Hey I have very strong influential ties to the European Tech Community I ain’t no fool.  LOL. Plus I secured two Caribbean BETA keynote speakers there and since coming back recharged and with greater clarity quite a few things have become unstuck. But, I answered only .01% of emails, I rescheduled meetings skype and face to face till AFTER I returned to Jamaica. You’re probably saying but ahmm Ingrid isn’t that’s what you do while on vacation, well, that’s not what Ingrid of the last 5 years used to do. You see, I always thought that if I was not ALWAYS on and always doing, then I would never become the successful entrepreneur of my dreams. Well that shit’s back out di window now let me tell you.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I am going to become a slacker and start cruising, instead it means getting even more done by working smarter, be more selective, targeted and true.  And yes that means fully experimenting with a 4 day work week or simply a 32 hr work week in another way and no I am not kidding. I am a big believer in doing less to achieving more. And if that doesn’t work, i’ll trust myself to find another way. So I know I’ll be kicking all sorts of ass going forward.

Now even as it was again obvious and I even preached it to others, but in how I lived these last few years, clearly I had not fully accepted it- and it was that, there are sooo many routes to success and I am creating my very own. Not everyone has to like it and that’s cool, I can live with that.

Success as I had defined it, was always to become income, time and location independent doing what I love, being surrounded by who I love, living daily in a manner that I love, while also making a difference in the tech and lifestyle communities I am part of. Well happily to report that I achieved income and location independence 3 years ago, where I can work anywhere in the world now, I only need consistent internet access, my laptop, a phone to get work done, marshal a team and get paid well, now it’s just a matter of keeping that growing.

I do not need to live/be based in or do business only inside Jamaica or the Caribbean to make things happen for myself or make a difference in the tech communities I am part of. So that leaves only time independence to achieve. So I give thanks. The abundant world is full of opportunities to do what you love, make a diffence and make a Oprah and Richard Branson type cash. Those opportunities are next door, others across the pond and many more online. They’re just waiting for you to change how you perceive yourself and how you think about the world of work and entrepreneurship too.

Your Health is Your Greatest Wealth. It’s never worth risking.

Then, I came back from this vacation with my blood pressure at normal, that hasn’t been the case in years.  Thanks to Avonie, my BFF who is a nurse, I found that out yesterday when she checked it for me. Like clockwork I’ve always returned from “vacations” with higher BP than I left because of the stress I carried with me, the bad habits of working on vacations, getting little sleep, attending to everyone elses needs and wants, the setting of zero boundaries.

This vacation I walked ALOT, was back to being Ingrid the explorer, I ate European portions, drank a glass of wine at lunch sometimes, I laughed ALOT, I had some positive, fun people around, I watched and read only fun, progressive or sports news. I slept in and lazed around my friend Romeo’s house in bed and on the sofa on the days I felt like going absolutely nowhere. Had carried my laptop and ipad but there were used 97% of the time to read an ebook, play bejeweled, google map a route to someplace I was going or print tickets for a theatre or live music event I was attending.

Now that I am back on the rock, it’s about incorporating many more of those things on a regular basis. A 3 week vacation every 5 years will not cut it. I have now been made a believer in mini vacations, sabbaticals throughout the year. I’ve become heavily influenced by Oprah, by Ryan Carson and Tim Ferris, go look them up, they are big believers and doers of lifestyle design, work and life balance and they have redefined success for them. They are inspirational and you may get some clues on what to add to or subtract from your own experimental mix, as you search to find what works for you. It was such a change for me as I had to be put on low dose BP meds two years ago, because of my high stress levels, lack of sleep and the extra pounds I had added to my 5 ft 9 in frame from the work-around-the-clock-at-my-desk lifestyle and the Ingrid last, martyr mentality I had settled into.  Small yet significant changes can have such a huge and lasting impact. Now I just have about 20-30lbs to lose over the next few months to get back to Ingrid’s regular levels physically. ugh! His after my trainer Juliet Cuthbert had whipped me into shape two years ago. But so it go, cheer me along will yah.

After 3 weeks in Londom, I feel more relaxed and more deeply connected to myself and that’s not been the case for a while.

So now with new things learnt and others unlearnt I’ve already begun to create and continue a healthier, more authentic life rhythm that’s best for ME. And the thing is, in doing that, what I give to those close to me and contribute to the rest of the World will be so much better.