I’m told that the received wisdom of the moment is it takes 21 days to make a change, whether learning a new skill or the breaking of an old habit. I went to Italy recently for my fist solo holiday and it was a huge learning experience for me; this was a prelude to a much longer trip that I had been planning, a testing of the waters if you will, and I definitely did feel tested. During the first difficult week my insightful daughter kept me afloat by saying “give it 3 weeks before making up your mind and maybe giving up on the whole idea”.
She was right, the first week was awful despite me loving the place where I was, the second week was busy; I was on a cookery course, and the third week started to be wonderful so that by the end of that week I was ‘flying’ and so proud of myself. Travelling solo? It’s a breeze! Or so I thought.
I have been on my extended 5 month trip for 3 weeks now and the thing is that I have had to go through the same set of challenges all over again. I have felt lost and alone and weepy and have wanted to run home on many occasions in these last 21 days. The difference is that this time I know that persistence and not dwelling too much on momentary feelings does help.
I have already had a whole lifetime of experiences from chancing upon a fabulous free concert in Grant park in Chicago via standing awed and amazed at the foot of Lincoln at his memorial in Washington, to saving a turtle from being run over on a busy highway in rural Florida and snuggling up on the sofa with a pit-bull called Giselle! Already I have met some amazing, funny, outrageous and influential people and all of this at a time when I was also feeling sad and a long way from home.
I wouldn’t have changed a thing on this journey so far, I have learnt to give myself permission to be sad and to be lonely at times, and whilst this is not a ‘new age guide to a more enlightened me’ I have truly come to realise that in my privileged life I have the fortitude and opportunity to explore new experiences and to survive on my own for 21 days!!
So today I am raising a glass of something fizzy to myself and all those intrepid people who have worked out that if you can keep going at something new for just 3 weeks not only will you have achieved a goal but you just might have had a blast along the way.