You probably have dreamed of a next chapter, even kept a seed of an idea, or two or three, tucked away. And I’m sure that every now and then you find yourself
thinking about that idea, wondering what it would really be like to dance to a new rhythm…
I had my own dream. Mine started with a tentative conversation with my husband about buying a simple holiday home in Italy, a small place to spend a few weeks each year pretending to live like the Italians do. But then this vision of la dolce vita took an abrupt turn and led me down a lifechanging path into a world so alien to me that I regularly pinch myself to make sure I’m not still dreaming.
Instead of a little vacation place, we ended up purchasing a large rundown villa and farm in Tuscany and renovated it into a 14-bedroom hotel. Not because I wanted to run a place for travellers to visit for a few days while exploring the glories of the region, but to create a haven where we could hold retreats. Originally, I thought we’d offer the occasional week-long girls getaway while I carried on with my television career, but the retreats soon took on a life of their own. They attracted people trying to ignite their passion once again. Those who’d hit a stone wall and were trying to find ways over, around or under it. Those who were suddenly single, or whose children had left home, and knew they had to do something to move on with their own lives. Those who had reached the tip of their learning curve and craved something new. Those who simply dared to dream about a new beginning and wondered what would happen if they tried something completely different?
Story after personal story unfolded as each guest inhaled the breathtaking views and tucked into memorable meals washed down with copious amounts of local wine. An eclectic mix of guests from Canada to Australia, England to Belgium, America to South Africa gathered each evening to share their stories and dream about new possibilities. As I listened with fascination to the tales of the dreamers and the doers a thread begin to appear. It is rather like buying a new car, where suddenly you see the model you chose everywhere. I had started a new chapter in my own life and now I was drawn to the inspirational stories of others. And I wanted to share them.
For Design Your Next Chapter, a book unlike any I’ve ever done, I interviewed souls from around the world that I’d met or read about. They had all reached a crossroads in life and had bravely turned away from the safety of the known and took an unfamiliar path. Then I intertwined these motivational stories of others with my own challenges and triumphs in Tuscany, plus oodles of advice and tools, to create a book I hope helps and inspires anyone contemplating or searching for a new act.
Grab yourself a chilled gin and tonic (just a splash of the later) with loads of ice and some slices of cucumber and curl up and have a read of this wee excerpt of my new book. Let me know what you think.
DESIGN YOUR NEXT CHAPTER
How to Realize Your Dreams and Reinvent Your Life
Follow Your Dreams. They Know the Way
Dreams cost nothing, they have no calories, and they are wonderfully private. All of us dream. Babies dream, animals dream. Is there anything sweeter than watching a dog, flaked out by the fire, running free in its dreams or a baby smiling in her sleep? We can dream anywhere, and not just at night. We can daydream or indulge in wishful thinking, playing with a million ideas that most of us will never act on.
“What would it be like if one day I had my own little store, or went to work in an exotic country, or opened a rustic beach bar on a sundrenched island?”
Your mind chatters as you lie at the end of a yoga class in a savasana pose: “What if I took yoga more seriously and opened up my own studio one day?”
“Imagine if I could sell home-cooked meals to overworked mothers,” you wonder as your family eats your famous homemade stew, and tells you, “You should market this Mom—it’s amazing.” Maybe you should, you think to yourself.
Your mind wanders in the boardroom as you silently debate starting your own accounting firm. After all, you can do this job in your sleep. What if these people were your personal clients and you could work your own hours? Even from home?
Stuck in an endless meeting, you fantasize about being your own boss. That sweet bed and breakfast you walk past each day seems to be doing a roaring business. You can make a decent bed and are known for your delicious breakfasts. Turn the family cottage into your own B and B, what if.
Then that ugly, unsupportive inner voice rises up.
“You could never afford to open your own business. What about your steady paycheque and taking care of the family?”
Then there are the worse thoughts:
“I don’t have what it takes to pull this off.”
“I’m not clever enough, pretty enough or thin enough.”
“Where would I find clients and, even if I did, why would they want to hire me?”
“I don’t have the confidence, the contacts or the guts to do my own thing.”
“I will fail.”
That voice of disapproval and doubt has a point. The kids do still need you, your bank account is pathetic and the mortgage is a stone around your neck. Maybe you will fail, and your peers might enjoy witnessing that. People who are stuck in their own ruts do like to judge. After all, “Who does she think she is?”
But all these doubts are mostly excuses to stay put. And I’m here to tell you that the most successful entrepreneurs have had countless conversations like
these in their heads. I certainly have.