The travelling industry was hit hard during the pandemic. Not only did 2020 see an almost complete lockdown on international travel, 2021-22 too was a stressful period for everyone in the field. Waves of covid continued to attack the world, and with that I was fast losing hopes of a speedy recovery to pre-covid time. As someone who has always meticulously planned not only my day but my entire year, the instability of these few years was something I was struggling to deal with. I was getting increasingly anxious. How do I successfully run a travel magazine at a time when mobility was being severely restricted? This period taught me important life lessons for 2023.
The rise of Social Media
I had been aware of the rise of social media as an important tool for increasing your reach. With the pandemic, social media presence was reaching unprecedented levels, and with it, my anxiety. How do I fit into this transforming travel landscape- my feed was constantly flooded with everyone doing everything at a fast pace.
This was in sharp contrast to my vacations. I have always preferred slow, relaxing trips with an emphasis on learning about the place, its history, and its culture. It seemed that in this fast-paced world, there was no space left for tranquility. Moreover, the world was unravelling to a state of free digital marketing and the trap of collaborations. This was exacerbating my now-old contempt for digitisation. As someone who has always loved the feel of paper in my hand, I cannot fathom how digital the world has gone. Digitisation needs to go hand-in-hand with print- become an extension of it rather than its extinction.
Add to all this my worries regarding the revenue, publication and distribution of Travel Links, and there you have the perfect concoction for severe anxiety.
However, in the midst of all this, I did not lose my resolve. My journey has been a challenging one. If I had managed all these years, why couldn’t I do it now? To me, it is always about planning. But this time, I changed my tactics. I channelled my energy inward.
The miracle of meditation
Meditation became a dear friend. I had taken a dip into this pool before on my excursion to Kanha Shantivanam in 2019. Being away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and Daaji’s teachings opened my eyes to a different way of living, one in which I was not overburdened and chronically exhausted physically and mentally. My experience there is what paved my path to becoming a more conscious human.
Chanting and prayers helped me through some difficult times. But silent meditation was merely an acquaintance. However, once I waded my way into its deep waters, I began to gain a grip on my own life. Deep meditative prayers helped me collect my thoughts. When I meditated, I was in a void of my own. I learnt to let go. Slowly, all the negativity, the constant worrying, and the overthinking ebbed away. Meditation created a space where there was no longer any “I”- it dissolved into the cosmos, and along with it all the stress. I emerged from it clearer and more solution-oriented.
This newfound space has proven to be invaluable to me. A couple of hours after meditating is when I came up with different ways to approach a problem. This inward focus largely affects the outside. Yes, I concentrated on healing myself, but my perception of my surroundings changed too. A situation that would have once been stressful, is now a problem-solving activity. I do not claim to have become completely stress-free. Yes, things continue to get to me, but the way I approach the situation has completely changed.
The vice of overthinking
One of my biggest life lessons has been that overthinking is a vice beyond comparison. Yes, it’s difficult to ignore intrusive thoughts. Yes, the nagging sensation to fuss over every minute detail is tempting. No matter how many logical solutions others or your mind gives you, you still find something to worry about. All my problems stemmed from this. I cannot emphasis enough how much meditation has helped me in regulating my thoughts.
Sharpening the soul
I have always been a huge believer in energy. We all exude them, and the energy we exude affects our work, affects our surroundings. We cannot always be positive, and we cannot always exude good vibes, but all we can do is try. I have realised that, for me, gratitude is the best way to be positive. I try to be grateful for the smallest of my blessings and express them to whoever I can.
While I may have learnt to imbibe life lessons of being grateful and humble, I did not let go of my business mindset. I was quick to understand its ways. I set clear boundaries and I did not budge on them. There is a fine line between being humble and letting yourself be used to no benefit of your own, and everyday is a new battle in maintaining that delicate balance.
Focus and Hard-work
However, not all my efforts have been in the realm of the mind. I have worked hard on sharpening my skills. For my business, I realised the importance of having a good network. I got out of my shell and made connections and formed lasting bonds. To cross a void of darkness, you have to spread your wings and fly. Always give it your best. No matter how tiresome, how hopeless or how challenging things might seem, put in your efforts. And, the effort is not a one-time thing. You have to be consistent. This is one of my most important life lessons.
Understanding what is important to your business, conveying your vision to your readers and staying true to your values- have guided much of my decisions throughout the years.
Another one of my life lessons is that we need to avoid negative people. People often tend to project their insecurities onto you. Cut off those who affect your life negatively. We need to choose our friends wisely. Seek out those who build you up and are reliable, not those who want to tear you down.
At the same time, try to not be too harsh in judging others. After all, we have all made our fair share of mistakes. Being more understanding of others can significantly help you run your business, or even just live a peaceful life. Once we understand that everyone’s goals are different, we no longer feel the need to pass judgement on them. It is okay for your friend to prioritise money over passion, even if it is something you would personally never do.
This leads to my final, but important point. Manage your finances. Be mindful of your expenditure and never bite off more than you can chew. Make smart investments, do your own research and always be proactive in making decisions. In our quest to find peace in this modern day world, money is a big contributor. It not only fulfils our own material needs, but also our family’s. While money may not be able to directly buy happiness, it does open many doors that lead to happiness.
We all go through our own unique evolution. What one might learn in one year may take another decades. My life lessons may not work for another, but that is okay. They might learn their own. Growth is a never–ending process. We have to unlock our potential and choose to be better every day. Analyse your day before you go to bed, and make note of the things you could have done better. Forgive yourself for past mistakes and pave your way forward. After all, everyday is a new beginning.