How a Powerful Mind Can Turn Any Failure Into Success

How a Powerful Mind Can Turn Any Failure Into Success

Everyone has experienced failure at some point in their lives. What matters is how you react and what you learn from it. After all, many successful people have failed big time before succeeding. Some famous examples include: Walt Disney, Stephen King, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling or even Bill Gates. And there are many others… You might not necessarily aim for so much fame (I know I don’t) but this is applicable to everyone!

Failure is part of success

I think it is actually very important to fail in life. It helps you build strength and resilience, which are amazing qualities to have. The world is full of “successful failures”. So let’s just acknowledge it when it happens and turn it into a positive. My life is full of failures… Although I feel a lot more proud than ashamed when I look in the rear-view mirror. Let me give you 4 examples from my personal experience.

1. I’ve been in several long-term relationships

For some it would actually be an achievement, especially for those who don’t manage to keep a relationship alive for a more than a few weeks. But if you invest several years in a relationship, how can you not see it as a failure when it ends?

I had to recover from 4 difficult breakups in my adult life. Each time, I initially thought they were “the one”. But then I eventually walked away when I realised the relationship was broken, I didn’t see any way to turn things around. It was like the candle in my heart suddenly stopped burning. To me, it was always a brave decision to make, because society constantly pressures you to be in a relationship. As a result, some people would avoid being single at all costs. I’d rather be single than with the wrong person by my side.

My learnings? My past experiences taught me so much about what I wanted and needed, but also what I couldn’t tolerate in a relationship. I met the one who was “husband material” to me, hence why I’m marrying him (hopefully) this year!

2. I never managed to keep the weight off

Now this could be the situation most people can relate to. Who can “naturally” maintain a healthy weight anyway? Not many. In my situation, I succeeded in losing more than 20 kilos 4 times in my adult life already. Is that a success or a failure? Probably both.

I would consider it a full success when I manage to keep it off permanently. I wouldn’t have had to do it all again if I didn’t put the weight back on… 4 times. But I never gave up or accepted to stay overweight. I never gave myself excuses, such as: “Oh well, maybe some people are not meant to be lean”, the classic “I have heavy bones” or even “I’d rather eat whatever I want, even if it means I put my health at risk”.

My learnings? I’ve just lost 20 kilos in the past 6 months. Yes, it’s the 4th time I’ve done it. But this time, I know it’s different. I learnt from my previous experiences and identified why it never lasted long. If you’re following this blog, you already know what long-term eating habits I’m putting in place to stay healthy. Stay tuned for more weight loss & weight maintenance related posts in the coming months!

3. I changed my career path several times

I grew up being convinced I wanted to become a doctor. So when I finished high school, I knew exactly what university to go to. But I failed the 1st year final exam and at the time I was devastated. It felt like my childhood dreams were all my pure imagination, I didn’t turn them into reality… I then realised I failed because I didn’t want it enough. I was young and immature. Why would I even want to become a doctor? In hindsight, I was living a lie. I liked the honourable aspect of this occupation, but I couldn’t have coped emotionally with everything it involves. Today the pandemic has confirmed what I already knew: I’m glad I’m not a doctor.

But finding my way wasn’t straightforward. Initially, I turned to programming, thinking: “At least if a computer dies, it’s not a big deal”. Truth is it’s extremely difficult to know what you should be doing when you’re in your early 20s. I found myself in a geek world I didn’t feel I belonged to. Was it still not the right path for me? It is even harder to accept you’ve made the wrong decision when it’s the second time already. After that, I had no choice but to make it right. Finally, I opted for sales & marketing and 5 years later I completed my Master’s degree. I was 4 years older than my schoolmates.

My learnings? I strongly believe that because I failed before, I had even more to prove. I enrolled in a sandwich course, alternating between studies and apprenticeship every year until graduation. It was hard but it was the best way to get work experience and also start my life without debts – the companies paid for my school fees. This is not something I would have even considered doing if I didn’t go through my previous disappointments.

4. I failed a job interview last month

When I quit my last job in September 2019, it was to travel in Southeast Asia & the Pacific. It was supposed to be a 6-month sabbatical only (it’s been more than a year now). Of course it was a risk, you never know what to expect upon your return. How about a worldwide pandemic? You get the picture, the job market is not what it used to be.

I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I don’t have to rush to find a job. So I’m focusing on finding the right job that will positively impact my mental health. I thought I found it when I was interviewing for this company recently. I got to the 4th and final stage of the process, but a few days later I found out I didn’t get the role.

My learnings? It’s a normal reaction to be disappointed and feel discouraged when you receive bad news. This is my most recent failure. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall, it still hurts every time you do. But I know better now, my mind is powerful and I’m not going to let that negative experience impact my energy. And I do believe everything happens for a reason.

“As I look back on my life, I realise that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.”

Steve Maraboli

It’s too easy to enter a negative loop

Not everyone has the mental strength to keep trying until they succeed. The way I picture it is a bit like Alice in Wonderland when she falls into that never-ending rabbit hole. If you let negativity take away the best of you, it becomes even harder to recover from failure. I know that if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s definitely not easy. But it’s a learning curve.

Last week, I received an email from a recruiter. She was asking me if I was interested in one of the vacancies she was working on. I never get too excited when I receive emails from recruiters, because I know from experience they never fully grasp your profile. So of course the vacancy didn’t fit my skills whatsoever. Something in her signature made me tick though. There was a quote saying: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”. Life can send you signs… You just have to be attentive and notice them.

If you fall, get back up right away

My piece of advice will not be rocket science I’m afraid. I’m sure you’ve heard of the proverb: “If you fall off the horse, get back on every single time”. I would like to insist on how important it is to keep going in life. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall. What matters is that you got back up one more time than you fell…

Who needed to hear these stories today? Don’t forget to share it to whoever needs to stay motivated around you!

Big Girl x

How Our Big Adventure Changed My Mindset Forever: Memories, Regrets and Tips

This is the end of 2 weeks of daily travel throwbacks I promised to write about. Our big adventure happened between November 2019 and April 2020, but now I can finally say I have some closure. This experience ended like an unexpected breakup in a relationship, like I was forced to turn the page despite some unfinished business. We planned 6 months of travel but only managed to do 5 before the pandemic interrupted us. Some would say we didn’t have much luck. I would say we actually got very lucky because at least we completed the biggest part of it.

We travelled to Singapore (1 week), Kuala Lumpur (1 week), Bali (2 weeks), Perth (10 days), Melbourne (2 weeks), Sydney (10 days), then drove from Sydney to Cairns (4 weeks) and finally visited New Zealand (6 weeks). But we got stranded in Fiji, where we planned a 5-day holiday and ended up staying 3 weeks as we couldn’t fly anywhere because of the pandemic. Finally, anyone with a passport from Europe got their access denied to Japan, where we were supposed to visit many cities from Tokyo to Fukuoka during our last 6 weeks of travelling.

What my best memories are

This travelling experience by itself was the best project I’ve ever put together. Among the 6 countries we went to, the only 2 places I’ve been before were Brisbane and Surfers Paradise (Australia) so 99% of it was a complete discovery. I’ve been impressed by Singapore and enjoyed New Zealand way more than I thought I would do. My best memories overall would include:

  • Singapore – Admiring the illuminated super trees in Gardens by the Bay and listening to the evening Rhapsody show
  • Malaysia – Being spoilt for choice in various food markets
  • Bali – Enjoying a private romantic diner for two when I got engaged
  • Australia – Driving along the Great Ocean Road, arriving just on time to watch the sun set over the 12 Apostles
  • New Zealand – Witnessing the natural beauty of the turquoise glacial water of Lake Tekapo

Apart from specific places, I would say my best memory is how I felt when we were travelling: free, happy and very lucky.

What I would do differently

In hindsight, there are always some things you would do differently when you put a plan in motion for the first time. I have no regrets in general, but if I knew better, I would have…

  1. …picked a better time to travel. We left when it was convenient in our calendar but sometimes overlooked the season in the country we were going to. In Southeast Asia & the Pacific, their winter is our summer. So their summer is something we’re definitely not used to and it was a bit difficult for us to cope with so much heat and humidity at times.
  2. …planned ahead for events to celebrate. Our Christmas plan was a bit last minute and my birthday was overlooked. You don’t think of it when you’re planning an entire trip but on the day you can regret it. I would have planned better for these special occasions!
  3. …worked harder to be in a better shape. Fair to say we were not in our best shape when we left travelling and I think we missed out on some physical activities that required a good fitness level, which was a bit of a shame. No need to be able to run a marathon but improving our cardio beforehand would have been a good idea.
  4. …allocated some rest time in the planning. When you’re travelling you also need some time to properly rest. We neglected that part and as a result we felt like it stopped us from enjoying our experience fully. Also, I wouldn’t book accommodation for only 1 or 2 days anymore – or only if it’s just a stop to break down the journey.
  5. …travelled lighter. As much as we tried to take only the minimum in our backpacks, we realised there were some things we never used during our trip. We took too many clothes for example, travelling is not a fashion show and we wouldn’t have minded wearing the same thing regularly if it meant carrying less heavy bags with us.

What you need to know before doing it

If you’re thinking of going on a similar adventure, I thought I would give you some tips (on top of what I would do differently from our own experience) as some things can be easy to forget:

  • Do your research properly: watch videos on YouTube, read travel books but also blogs because they will give you more personal advice, ask people around you who have already done such a thing.
  • Check the vaccination(s) you’ll need early on: sometimes there are several injections needed per vaccine and a deadline for when you need to be vaccinated by, depending on the country you’re going to.
  • Book popular excursions or activities in advance: don’t wait until you’re there as it can get fully booked easily and read reviews carefully before you book, to avoid nasty surprises.
  • Work out how much cash you need with you: some countries are not very familiar with card payments and the airport doesn’t offer the best exchange rate, also keep your cash in various places (in case you get robbed).
  • Pick carefully what bank cards you want to bring: when travelling, traditional banks are not necessarily the best option – Monzo worked great for us as it matches the live market rate with no extra fees when you pay abroad. Take several cards if possible (preferably a VISA and a MasterCard) just in case.
  • Talk to the locals when you’re on the road: they would know some cool places to go to that are not in any travel books, they would also know about the local events happening during your stay.

Finally, you have to accept some level of uncertainty, some things will remain out of your control and you’ll have to adapt. We haven’t always been lucky with the weather or natural disasters ourselves for example… We drove through burning trees in Perth, breathed smoky and unhealthy air in Sydney due to bushfires, drove through torrential rain and got stopped by flooded areas. As a result, there are some places we wanted to go but couldn’t: The Pinnacles near Perth (bushfires), The Blue Mountains near Sydney (bushfires), Cedar Creek Falls near Airlie Beach (flooding), Whitsunday Islands (storms) and Milford Sound in New Zealand (flooding) to name a few. I’m not even mentioning the 6 weeks in Japan we couldn’t do because of the pandemic.

How it changed my mindset forever

This season in Australia has been a very dark summer for the country who’s suffering first from the global warming and climate change. It’s been a real eye opener for us, it’s always easier to face the truth when you witness it yourself… It was not only in the news, it happened just in front of us. We were not really worried about our holidays, we just felt sorry for the locals who lost their homes and all the defenceless animals we couldn’t save. It made me want to care more for our planet, because if we don’t, there will be nothing left to visit for the next generations.

It also taught me how important it was to be grateful in life and how to prioritise things better. Having a healthy body and a healthy mind offers you the best chances to make the most of everything, not only when you’re travelling but in life in general. That’s what triggered my drive to become the best version of myself.

Travelling is key in self-improvement and this is why it’s one of the main categories in this blog. Travelling makes you a better person, it’s the only real way to unlock your mind from preconceived ideas and be more open to the world. Would I do it again if I had the chance? Yes, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. Have you done it yourself or is it in your plans too?

Big Girl x

Stuck in Paradise? Not Really…

Stuck in paradise

Let me go back to the most traumatic experience of my life. It was something that on paper most people would probably dream of… Which makes it even worse. Let me explain.

Earlier this year my fiancé and I were travelling. We were in New Zealand when the pandemic was officially becoming a worldwide problem. Our next destination was Fiji and they had no case at the time. We thought we would be much safer there, perfect occasion to rest a bit before our last destination (Japan). But things didn’t go as planned and everything escalated so quickly… We didn’t see it coming. Maybe we underestimated the danger at that time. Maybe we didn’t feel anxious enough to make a better decision (the right dose of anxiety can be useful sometimes!). But most importantly, we refused to let go so easily on our once-in-a-lifetime travelling experience. We paid the price for it though, we got stranded for 3 weeks in Fiji.

Our first days in Fiji

For the first few days we were in a rather empty holiday resort. Their first case of coronavirus was diagnosed a day after we arrived. Day after day, everything closed down: the gym, most of the restaurants, even the swimming pool. Of course no activity was available and the number of employees at the resort was decreasing quickly. It was pretty scary and we started to feel like we shouldn’t be here. 3 days later, our flight to Japan was cancelled. We had to accept the fact that we had no choice but to go back home earlier than planned… Although it was not so simple.

How we tried to leave

We booked ourselves a last minute flight to London via Brisbane and Singapore. But once at the airport and ready to leave, we found out Singapore has closed its borders, even for people transiting only. We were also informed we needed an authorisation from Australia to stop there too, which contradicted what the British embassy told us the day before when we called them for reassurance. So we couldn’t board on that plane and there was no other flight available for us. Breathe… The next day, we came back to the airport and talked to the embassy again. They were clearly overwhelmed by the situation. A handful of trapped tourists was doing the same thing but no one had any idea what to do.

stranded in Fiji

How we got stranded

A couple of days later, the Fijian Government made the decision to close the airport completely. No planes were authorised to fly off abroad. That’s how we got trapped in a tiny island far far away from home. It was not pleasant at all, we didn’t know how long the situation was going to last… The uncertainty was difficult to cope with. It wasn’t like we could ignore the situation and enjoy our holiday no matter what, everything was closed and the atmosphere not so good.

So we rented an apartment near the airport and stayed inside all day, only going out for necessary food shops around the corner (our diet was mainly based on rice, tuna and sweetcorn). We were using our free time to reflect on things we were grateful for, things we wished we could do (so we could appreciate them more once back home) and what changed in our mindset. The list is long but the main thing we took out of this experience is that when everything is uncertain, everything that is important becomes clear. I’ll come back more in detail to the entire list in another post.

How we finally escaped

It’s actually a tropical cyclone that saved us. The Fijian Government wanted to protect their brand new planes and agreed to let them fly abroad, using desperate tourists to absorb the costs at the same occasion of course. That day was 6 months ago today, the day we finally escaped that nightmare. I feel like I can relate to people who have been released from a foreign prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

This experience taught me many things. Sometimes you just don’t know what people are really going through. I heard so many times: “Well I would love to be stuck in Fiji, it doesn’t seem so bad!”. Although I can understand why some people would say that, I think it’s also particularly inappropriate and shows a lack of empathy. It made me become less judgemental and more understanding of others. I don’t make the mistake anymore to underestimate the impact that words can have on people. We need kindness now more than ever. Stay safe all!

Big Girl x