JESSICA GUZIK IS A WRITER AND MARKETER WHO DESIGNS CREATIVE EVENTS THAT CONNECT COMMUNITIES OF PASSIONATE PEOPLE. AHEAD, THIS ADVENTUROUS DIGITAL NOMAD SHARES HER EXPERIENCE IN EUROPE AND THE BENEFITS OF SOLO TRAVEL...
On November 10, 2016, I quit my full-time job. The best stories always start that way, right?
At the time, my nascent events startup was taking off. I had paying clients, interested prospects, and big dreams of building a business in Washington, DC. I spent my days in co-working spaces and coffee meetings. I loved my new role as a female entrepreneur.
THEN I GOT DRUNK ON MY OWN FREEDOM.
For years I dreamed of long-term travel. It was a dream I habitually shelved for professional, financial, or personal reasons. But as a newly minted entrepreneur, I was in charge of my own schedule and in possession of a modest financial runway. What could it hurt, I thought, to indulge in a seven-week European bender? What business opportunities could I possibly miss between New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day?
THIS WAS MY PLAN:
- Spend a few days alone in Paris.
- Au pair in Rome for one month.
- Return to DC and build my business.
THIS IS WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED:
- Partied with Parisians on New Year’s Eve.
- Parted with the au pair gig after one week.
- Binged on art in Florence.
- Binged on seafood in Venice.
- Fell in love with Berlin.
- Fell in love in Amsterdam.
- Left my business and moved to Berlin...where I write you now.
BUT WAIT: IF I’M NO LONGER A FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR IN DC, WHY AM I WRITING TO RINGLET MARKET READERS AT ALL?
Entrepreneurship and solo travel, it turns out, are quite similar. The boldness it takes to register an LLC is not unlike the boldness it takes to make friends in a room full of strangers who don’t speak your language. The negotiation skills honed in vendor discussions are similar to the negotiation skills honed in Florence’s leather market. And the curiosity that leads to new product innovation has a parallel in the curiosity that leads to new street food experiences.
But there is one commonality that deserves special attention. As an entrepreneur or a solo traveler, you can be sure of one thing: Nothing will go exactly as planned, and your life will be better for it.
That sounds quaint and crochet-able, but it’s a hard truth to live. When your funding falls through or you flight is canceled, it doesn’t feel like life is about to get better. It feels like the world is closing in around you. It takes mental toughness to get through those moments. And the only way to build that mental toughness is to...get through more of those moments.
That’s why solo travel is invaluable for the female entrepreneur. Solo travel is a mental toughness training ground that prepares you for the arena of entrepreneurship. On the road, plans change every day in small but unpredictable ways. Adjusting to those changes gives you daily practice in mindful agility. You learn to navigate around the unpredictable by way of airline strikes, freak hail storms, and surprise romances. As a result, you return to your startup better conditioned to bob and weave around the obstacles of entrepreneurship.
That was my experience when I returned to DC for six weeks after my European bender. As I wrapped up client projects, I often drew on the sense of perspective and patience I cultivated while living out of a suitcase. I’m all unpacked in Berlin, but I’m no less reliant on the lessons I learned as a nomad. Drawing on my mental toughness, I hope to work as a freelancer here and eventually start my own company again.
And yet I laugh as I type that. After all, we both know that nothing will go exactly as planned, and my life will be better for it.
Thank you so much for sharing, Jessica! We can't wait for our next travel!