Create momentum untethered.
This post was first published in Thrive Global on September 21, 2017
Two years ago I incorporated my business, then traded the security of an address for AirBnb rooms and budget flights. I didn’t really have a plan but made the decision based on the premise that by taking a leap, momentum would follow. I am still riding a wave of growth in my business and personal development.
It was early 2015 when a friend and I incorporated my fledgeling jewellery business in Hong Kong and hired a team of jewellery artisans in Cambodia. I had lived there for 10 years, much of that time struggling with how uncreative the vertical urban landscape made me feel. Also, over the last few years, I had been battling increasing mysterious health issues that no doctor seemed to be able to help me with. I felt sluggish and uninspired. So at the same time as I established my business there, I had also come to the end of my love-hate relationship with Hong Kong.
So I decided that the incorporation celebration dinner that I had arranged for my friends, would become an occasion for farewell too. I packed my belongings into a storage facility and left for Cambodia, to work with my jewellery artisans. I also had a couple of business meetings in Bali and a friend was surfing there, so I bounced back and forth between Bali and Cambodia for a while. After 4 months, and reaching the end of my resources, I finally landed a surprise job offer in Bali.
I have worked with fashion companies in Bali for over two years now, and I am also working on scaling my jewellery production to meet the demands of a large distributor. Until a few months ago, when I started renting a place for my business and staff in Cambodia, I had no address at all.
But even though I am still living out of that same suitcase I left Hong Kong with in 2015, I have grown in leaps and bounds in health, and as an entrepreneur. These are my takeaways from riding that wave of momentum.
As a highly sensitive personality I had learned in Hong Kong that environment is a major contribution to my creativity and mental health. In Bali, my health is returning to normal as my spirit finds rest in the lush landscape all around. Living without an address for a while helped me find the right environment to be creative and productive.
Contentment with a limited lifestyle
Since I came to Bali with one suitcase, I want to leave with one suitcase. So that means being content with a limited wardrobe and only the exact things I need every day. Rotating a limited set of outfits makes mornings more efficient. Even though I miss some of my favourite items of clothing (my jeans, heels and jackets!), I actually do not have the occasion to wear them here. Life is simple and uncluttered. Everyone goes to bed early and gets up at dawn. With a pared-down lifestyle and wardrobe, I am able to focus on the job at hand undistracted: running my business next to my full-time job and learning as much as I can.
In Bali, I finally joined Toastmasters. It was something I thought I should do years ago and then forgot about it. At Toastmasters I learned not only to feel more comfortable speaking in front of an audience, but also to pull ideas together from my varied experience for speech writing.
I also learned Indonesian, a language I had wanted to learn since I was a teenager and spent family holidays in Bali. This is coming very handy as my business grows and I need to contract more suppliers.
But best of all, I learned how to ride a scooter. Terrified at first, but necessity persisting, I took the plunge just in time to be able to show around a visiting friend and never looked back.
Moving to a new country for a new job is always a challenge. Doing this while trying to keep a startup afloat is an even bigger challenge. In the meantime, family and friends are continuing a different kind of life, i.e. a normal one, where you are not present. If you are not mindful of them, relationships can get lost.
I found that keeping the people important to me updated, and keeping up to date on what’s going on with them, makes it easier for them to understand what I am up to and why. Besides family and friends, I found new communities in Toastmasters and churches, and new friends in AirBnb hosts, guest houses and colleagues. In all of these, I found some kind of support, big or small.
Napolean Hill’s “Think and grow rich” changed my life. In it, he advises to write down your desired bigger picture, so that it exists within your subconscious and can’t help but become visible at intersections with appropriate people and opportunities. When my business was in prototype stage, I filled the gaps in my plans that seemed impossible to overcome with intentions. Some of these “magically” came to fruition already.
I believed that as long as I replaced stagnancy with momentum, I was going to move forward, like a surfer turning around to catch a wave. As a result, I was able to give my dreams room to breathe.
Take the first step, and watch your dreams fly.