One of the best things about traveling is coming back home

It is my last night in Bali. I sit on a beach terrace by myself, sipping on a glass of wine, my feet planted on a stool.

“If I’d make a photo of that I would be in trouble!” says a man with a German accent next to me, pointing at my bare legs. “Well then I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” I respond with a sugarsweet smile.

Then, the standard traveler-meets-traveler tune follows: where are you from how long have you been here when are you going back?

“My plane is leaving tomorrow,” I tell him.

“Oh no, I am so sorry for you”.

“Oh don’t be, I’m actually looking forward to going home.”

He looks at me with furrowed eyebrows. “Which places did you travel to?” Apparently he has come to the conclusion that if I want to go home, I have not seen enough beautiful places here.

I’m starting to tell him my itinerary, but I don’t think he’s actually hearing it. “You should have gone to Flores, and the National Park, and so many more places. So if you’re leaving tomorrow, you’ll have to come back to Indonesia another time. ”

“Well, I don’t know if I want to come back here. I liked it a lot, but I’ve been in Bali twice and I actually like traveling through Europe a lot too. I love Europe and my own country. ”

His ‘I have to do with you’ look has turned into an ‘is she completely out of her mind’ look. “You shouldn’t travel through Europe now,” he then continues. “You can do that when you’re old. Europe is already a done deal. Here, in Indonesia, there are still so many beautiful undiscovered places. Last week, I took my son and his girlfriend on a boat trip to… ”

In the meantime, my thoughts wander. I’m thinking about things from home, from the Netherlands, from Europe. The seasons, that change the weather and landscape completely every few months. The fresh air. The cities with their beautiful old buildings. My nice apartment. My own bed, the heating I clamp myself onto when I’ve been half frozen outside. The (washing) machine I throw everything in to get it out clean and dry a few hours later. The supermarket around the corner where I can get fresh bread from the bakery every day. My family and friends with whom I will celebrate Christmas and New Years.

Yes, I really feel like going home again.

I feel like my neighbor’s speech has lasted long enough. I get up and look at him kindly. “Thank you very much for your advice, I will think about it. Have a nice day! ”I say, and I walk back to my hotel. I’m going to pack my suitcase. Sometimes traveling also helps you to realize how good things are at home.

6 practical tips if you are a bit dreamy too

My primary school report consistently stated ‘she’s bit dreamy’, I have got quite some experience with the loss of keys / wallet / passport, I more than once forgot an important birthday, and I might have stood along the highway with an empty tank once, because I forgot to refuel I didn’t receive a notification saying the tank was almost empty.

And so I must have forgotten something (pun intented). In hindsight, these kinds of situations are quite funny of course, but at the time I couldn’t really laugh about it. In fact, until recently my way of dealing with it was as follows: making fun of myself to other people, while at the same time drilling myself into the ground in my mind – because what woman with a full-grown brain forgets to refuel?! Can’t I just remember something for ONCE?

Apart from not being very nice to myself in those situations, it didn’t really help either. Because the more I focused on that which I’m not very good at, I really have to remember things like a normal person does because I really don’t want to search for my keys AGAIN for an hour, the more – you probably guessed it – often I was looking for my keys.

And so I thought: maybe I should start working wíth my brain instead of against it. Making things a bit easier for myself, instead of constantly bringing myself down when I forget something.

Moreover, I can do a lot of fun things with my brain: I am good at coming up with new ideas, I love to read and write and once I am working on something exciting I focus like a man who is in front of a naked woman. But remembering daily, practical things – that’s just not really my cup of tea. In fact, it might even be a bit of a shame if I use my brain as a “dump disk” for practical things that I can perfectly store in a different and thus more efficient way.

So here are my 6 tips that have helped me best in “remembering” the practical things in life.

1. Use a digital calendar and enter all your appointments in there

I always put all appointments immediately in my digital Google Calendar. I repeat: immediately. Since the app is on my phone (which I almost always bring with me), I have no excuse for not entering appointments immediately. A paper agenda doesn’t work for me because I wouldn’t always have it with me. And suppose I am somewhere and we want to schedule something spontaneously, I would have to remember that until I am near my agenda again. Not a good idea.

2. Add birthdays to Google Contacts

I really like this functionality: if you use Google contacts, you can simply add the person’s birthday (the people you want to congratulate on their birthday, anyway). That birthday will then appear on your day in your Google Calendar. Super handy!

3. Use a “tasks” app

For tasks I also use one of Google’s gems: Google Tasks. The moment I think: “oh yes, I wanted / had to do that”, I put the task in Google Tasks. Only if I really want to have it completed on a certain date, I add a date. (This way I prevent that I have an immensely long I–will-never-be-able-to-succeed to-do list in one day). The task will then appear in my calendar on the deadline date. If it’s something I want to do “someday,” I add in my Tasks app without a date. It then is stored into some sort of receptacle, which I go through every now and then to see if I want to take on some of those tasks.

4. Use a fixed grocery list in your notes app

Groceries are those things that you often keep somewhere in the back of your head, like “oh yes I really have to remember that I still have to buy toilet paper” – and then you walk out of the supermarket with anything but toilet paper. Instead of that, I trained myself to think: “I have to buy toilet paper, so I’ll put it on my list NOW”. I use a fixed list for this in Google Keep, that is secured at the top of the page.

5. Marie Kondo your stuff every once in a while

I love Marie Kondo. For more than just practical reasons by the way, but I’ll come back to that later. Many people think Marie Kondo is all about throwing away as many things as possible, but that is not necessarily true. It is all about what you keep: only those things that really make you happy and that you really use. In general, after a good Marie Kondo session you (1) have much less stuff and (2) have given the stuff you want to keep deliberately a permanent place. The result: much more overview and fewer lost items.

That’s why, every once in a while, I have an extensive Marie Kondo session . Not at set times, but just when I feel my head is a bit full and I need some overview and clarity. After the session, I sell or give away the stuff I don’t want to keep. Killing four birds with one stone!

6. Sell your car

Just kidding. Buy a car that clearly indicates when you need to refuel ;).

3 types of responses to expect when you start your own business (and how to handle them)

“Henk, how can you be sure you’ll have enough customers? I’m worried about you!”
(Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash)

In my experience, there are three types of responses you can expect from people around you when you start out for yourself (or do something else you really want, find scary and is not necessarily ‘normal’ in your environment).

First of all, the supporter.

A typical response of a supporter is as follows:

“Yes, of course this is a bit exciting, but you can do it. I believe in you. YOU GO GIRL / WOMAN / BOY / MAN! *”

* strike out what doesn’t apply

These can be people who are a step further than you. They motivate you to do the things you really want, but are a little scary because they know how unbelievable cool it is to do them anyway. (In my experience, the general rule is: the more I want it, the scarier I find it – but that’s probably food for another blog post.)

Also, besides the people who are a step further, I have some friends who are completely the opposite of me. They’re not even thinking about starting out for themselves (at least at the moment – maybe they’ll change their mind one day), but they really like what I do and are therefore my best supporters.

Second, the worried.

A typical response from a worried person sounds something like this:

“Do you now have enough customers to make ends meet? Just to be sure, I would apply for unemployment benefits if I were you. Also, are you well insured? I recently heard a story about someone who had just started for himself and then broke his leg. ”

Often, these are the people closest to you. They just want the very best for you and are afraid that you will crash down (which is – in my experience – actually likely to happen quite often). Often, they are projecting their own fears and thoughts on you. And that’s very sweet and well-meaning, but it doesn’t really help you. Because at the very beginning, you’ve got enough of your own worries and fears, so you don’t really need the concerns of others to be poured over you as well.

Third: the cynical.

A typical response from a cynic is as follows:

“…”

In my experience, cynical people don’t say that much. At least not in your face. But did you just see them turning their eyes when you were enthusiastically talking about your latest ideas?

Often, these people are just a bit jealous of you. You’re just doing what you want to do, while they have convinced themselves throughout their whole lives that they absolutely cannot do what they want to do. So they settle for a life that is OK-ish, but doesn’t really make them happy. And that is quite confrontational. (I know, because I had the exact same reaction a few years ago when someone I knew gave up her job and house to travel the world and was still in my safe, not-so-exciting, permanent job).

How to deal with it:

First of all: most people respond from their own experiences and fears. In general, that has little to do with you. Now, I can tell you that you “just shouldn’t worry about other people’s comments”, but I also know that – at the very beginning – that is sometimes quite difficult to do.

That’s why my advice is as follows: when you don’t feel that well: stay by yourself. Lock yourself up and listen to positive podcasts, videos or read books that make you happy. If you still need to speak to someone, do not call people in categories 2 and 3.

That doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the worried and cynical people in your life, but you can just ignore the subject for a while. We are often so addicted to validation from others, that we always feel we need to be open and honest and have to share everything with everyone. That is really not necessary. You can also talk about other subjects with the somewhat anxious – “wasn’t it good the way it was” – people in your life. The moment they do ask questions about your entrepreneurial adventure, just give them some general answers. You don’t have to lie, just don’t go into too much detail and then smoothly change the subject.

In the beginning, doing business is just a bit exciting and sometimes scary. That makes sense, because you are going to do something completely new and you have stepped out of your safe(ish) environment. But you will feel more confident along the way – step by step. And until then, I would advise you to stay nicely in your own, safe, closed-off cocoon.