The expression “running away to the Circus” paints the picture of reckless and romantic decision making; choosing the exciting and unpredictable adventure over the well-trodden path. In 2011 when I first moved to London, the world of startups had similar connotations and it’s fair to say that the adventures that have subsequently materialised have been as exciting and colourful as any big-top spectacle.

Once the concept of startups began moving into a more mainstream conversation, a new counter-culture term took mainstage. The life of the Digital Nomad seemed out of reach for the non-tech-developer, especially one approaching the ripe old age of twenty-eight! However I’ve always seen life as a series of chapters and believe wholeheartedly that your path can’t be forced; you have to keep the door of opportunity wide open, make informed and committed decisions when necessary and then enjoy the ride.

Two years on from starting my Digital Nomad adventure and recently having hit the big three zero, I feel more confident and in tune with myself than I ever have before. I believe I’ve discovered the key to success and whilst it’s not easy, the theory is simple.

The secret to success is truly understanding your own definition of the word and taking care of yourself as you work your way towards it.

For the busy entrepreneur, it will be frustrating to hear that success doesn’t happen overnight and before you can even progress you need to spend time working out what success really means to you. Even worse the “working it out” bit could take years.

Twenty-eight year old me threw all caution to the wind leaving London life, friends and a full-time job behind, in search of answers. As so often is the case, what I found were more questions. Through constant self-reflection and challenging my own thoughts, expectations and ideals, I now feel clear-headed and in control of my life. Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt.

Work/life balance doesn’t mean work hard/play hard

The younger me definitely subscribed to this lifestyle and it was a rollercoaster. I certainly loved it and thrived for a long time, but sometimes it would overwhelm me and I’d need to hibernate for a while to get back on my feet. As I’ve got older my priorities have changed and escaping the rat race of London living and slowing my pace of life right down really helped throw light on what’s important to me now and what steps I need to take for the next chapter of my life.

Balance is a hugely important thing to me now and it’s something that needs to be woven into both work, play and the super important third category, self-care.


Look after yourself, mind, body and soul

An evolution of work hard/play hard could be work smart/live smart. The main role of diet and exercise is not a means to a more aesthetic end; think of yourself as a machine. If you look after yourself you’ll move more easily through life with fewer breakdowns. Neglect yourself and you’ll find that ten or fifteen years from now you’ll be coughing and spluttering behind the rest. Your mind is the engine so look after that first and foremost, it will give you more clarity on how to deal with the rest. Diet feeds the mind and the body and really importantly it affects your lymphatic and immune systems which are like full-time engineers, so learn what’s going into you and make sure it’s the good stuff! Read The Case Against Sugar and Why We Sleep.

Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting crossed legged on a yoga mat om-ing and ah-ing. Just take time each day to be present. Clear your mind of your shoulda-woulda-coulda lists and just check in with yourself. Be aware of your surroundings, notice how you’re feeling both physically and emotionally, and only after this, think about why that might be and what you can do about it.

I am not a yogi nor do I actively meditate on a regular basis but I do insist on time to think. If you get up, rush to work, meet friends for dinner and then fall into bed on a regular basis, plus allocate the weekends for further socialising and the necessary personal admin (groceries, laundry, paying bills etc.) then you might quite quickly find yourself on auto-pilot. Thinking isn’t hard; just look at something mundane whilst you’re on the bus, ask why does that thing exist? Ask yourself if it’s always just been or if it was invented, when it was it invented and what problem did it solve. Be actively curious.

Read more books

I used to read about four books a year. In 2017 I managed twelve and last year I hit twenty. I set myself the challenge of reading twenty-six pages a day, thirteen in the morning, thirteen in the afternoon. I don’t always manage and sometimes I’ll go for weeks without picking up a book, but the important thing is to keep trying. Books are better than blog posts (except this one of course, haha). There is a beginning, middle and end, and you’re not getting distracted by emails, adverts and the desire to share the thing of which you’ve only read half. Reading a book is self-development… presuming you’re not reading celebrity biography or the latest bonk-busters one after another. Finishing a book gives you a sense of achievement, a dopamine hit better than any heart or thumbs up on your social post.

What has this all got to do with success and how did I learn this all from travelling, I hear you ask. Well, the truth is I didn’t learn it directly from travelling. There was no epiphany at the sight of Machu Picchu, no visions as I climbed the Great Wall of China. In fact, the bad times when the weather was crap, the accommodation was dirty and the food was far from enticing, there wasn’t any wifi, the flights had been cancelled and not refunded…  that is when I learnt more about who I am, what’s important and how I chose to take control of my life. When you’re stuck, when your choices become limited, you have a lot of time to reflect.

Outside of my comfort zone is where I am reminded that I am resilient, resourceful and when I put my mind to it, a force to be reckoned with. A bit of anger, a bit of fear, a healthy dose of indignation is where I find my fuel, my focus. If I live comfortably, on autopilot I forget to challenge and to make a change; I accept the norm and I succumb to the white noise.

The key to success is first being really brutally honest with yourself about what you want to achieve and where your priorities lie. Work on the why; only then you can start on the how.

About The Author

Vicky Hunter is the Founder of LittleRed. She is obsessed with what makes experiences meaningful and refuses to live life on auto-pilot. In May 2019 she’s running Lady Days, a one week, women-only experience that aims to empower women through creativity & self-reflection.

Get in touch with Vicky via


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