Where do you start a trip around the world?

From wherever you are. With a single step. And then another. Take it from Allison. She’s doing it!

The first thing you notice about Allison are her deep dimples, the best part of her radiant smile. There’s a brightness in her eyes and even though she’s smiling, there is also a sense of caution in her demeanor.

Like most of us, Allison has a lot of different layers and as she started to peel away those layers and share what was going on behind a cautious smile and those gorgeous dimples, I knew she had a story to tell.


 

Allison finished her MBA and was living in Chicago with a great paying but very boring job. It was a point in her life when she was ready for an adventure. Something was taking shape but Allison couldn’t put her finger on exactly what it was. She knew what it wasn’t, which was staying in her current job.

Then came a series of events . . . the kind of events that make you realize life is fragile and unpredictable.  Adding insult to injury, Allison was mugged as she walked home from a meditation class she’d been taking to help her stay in balance through all the bad news.

What caught me completely off guard was Allison’s next comment.  “I really think the mugging was the reason everything began to change for me. In a positive way.”

Huh?

I was thinking about all those things that make us victims well after the actual event has occurred. Being scared, timid, withdrawing, not trusting. How could a mugging cause someone to be less afraid, more adventuresome, more independent?

Wouldn’t it do the opposite?

Vondel Park - biking with her friend Emily. Allison met her and her boyfriend Judd in Lisbon; then ended up in Amsterdam a week later and then met up again. They are from New Zealand and are on a year of travel.

Vondel Park – biking with her friend Emily. Allison met her and her boyfriend Judd in Lisbon; then ended up in Amsterdam a week later and then met up again. They are from New Zealand and are on a year of travel.

A Time for Self-Reflection

Allison found a good counselor to help work through her anxiety issues.  “But I continued to feel sad and just not myself. There was a feeling that something wasn’t quite right,”  she said.

Finally her counselor suggested that perhaps it wasn’t the trauma from the mugging that was making Allison sad. Maybe it was her job.

She recalls, “It was as if a light bulb went off. All of a sudden I realized the job had become my identity and since I really didn’t like my job, how was I ever going to like myself? I knew immediately I needed to find something to do that wouldn’t make me miserable.”

“Where was I in my life? I was where I needed to find something to get excited about. I needed to create a life—-my life—- not just make a living.”

 

Time for a Change

From that point Allison set the wheels in motion for her adventure. Something was going to happen.

But what?

Living in Chicago provided lots of opportunities to explore and Allison took full advantage of what was offered, always on the lookout for something to hit her hot button. She was patient. And she never stopped looking.

Then the game changer.  An experiential weekend in Wisconsin with 11 total strangers. The rules were simple: no cell phones and no friends. Which meant no outside distractions and 11 sets of fresh eyes for a new perspective on wherever you were in your life.

For the first time Allison voiced what she really wanted to do . . . take a year and travel around the world.

And every one of her newly found friends advised her to do it.

Allison said, “Maybe it was the idea of having near total strangers encourage me. Maybe I finally gave a voice to something I really wanted to do. Maybe it was the positive feedback. Maybe it was a combination of everything. But that was my “aha” moment.”

So she set out to make it happen.

Allison's friend Michelle took this photo when they met up in Thailand. Her pack is 65 liters and the daypack holds all her valuables.

Allison’s friend Michelle took this photo when they met up in Thailand. Her pack is 65 liters and the daypack holds all her valuables.

The Beginning of Many New Adventures

“I had some savings and I was determined to make this affordable without breaking the bank.   I’m staying in hostels and I’ve developed a network of friends all over the world so I will have a support group wherever I go.”

It took a little more convincing to get her dad on board but the day Allison finally quit her job and called him to deliver the news, he spoke the words she needed to hear. “I am so proud of you. You’re doing the right thing.”

Allison became very serious at this point. She looked away a little bit, almost like she was replaying that moment in her head.  She gave me a steady look and said, “I’ll never forget it. I don’t think I could have done it without his support. That’s lucky.”

What is Allison’s advice for people finding themselves in a similar situation? People who want to follow a lifelong dream? Chapter writers without a clear idea of the Chapter they want to write?

Without hesitation she says, “Take the first step. No matter where you are or what you want to do, just talk to someone. Make one phone call. Read one article. Take one little bitty step. And then you’ll take another, and another. But you need to take that first one.  Just be willing to try.”

The people who tell me their stories never start out thinking they have a Life Lesson worth sharing.  But without exception every single one of them offers something the rest of us can learn.  And there it is from Allison.

Just be willing to try.

What would happen if instead of being scared of something, you’d be willing to try?  If you took a first step.  Made one phone call.  Talked to one person.  

Would you be willing to try?   

Because Allison has shown all of us what happens when we do.

Allison always dreamed of going to Myanmar. This is her at sunrise at one of the temples. She did a hot air balloon ride which she describes as amazing.

Allison always dreamed of going to Myanmar. This is her at sunrise at one of the temples. She did a hot air balloon ride which she describes as “amazing”.