empty suitcase

I’m going on a trip….

After years of staycations, 2018 is becoming the year of traveling for me—and I’ve been thinking about the learning that comes from not just the trips themselves but the packing that goes into them.

My first two big trips this year were by car, which is always nice because you don’t have to consider what you take as much as you do when you travel by plane.

Packing for overseas travel is altogether different.

What are the must-haves? What are the nice-to-haves? What are the absolutely-don’t-needs?

And perhaps most importantly, what do we tend to pack that we never use and continue to drag around anyway?

What does this extra baggage do for (or to) us, particularly when we want to travel fast and light?

Earlier this year, my friend Donna Doyon did a podcast episode about unpacking fears. An avid hiker and gifted storyteller, Donna uses the metaphor of un/loading a backpack to talk about what weighs us down and holds us back as we move through our lives.

In my own work with clients, we often spend time picking apart this “baggage,” which most often comes in the form of a story about ourselves—a story that we believe wholeheartedly and rarely question because most often, it’s cemented into our brains at a young age, when we tend to believe what adults say about us.

It can be “I’m the smart one (the funny one, the athletic one, the rebellious one, the fat one, the thin one…) of the family” or it can be “I can’t do this because I’ve never been able to…” and we make our decisions about how to (not) act and what (not) to do based on this story.

Our narratives take up residence in our minds and keep us playing small: we don’t try new things because we have already (perhaps erroneously) accepted that we will fail.

As my trip overseas over the next two weeks coincides with some major shifts in my work life—more to come on that front—I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to take with me going forward and what has been weighing me down and keeping me from achieving my career goals.

full trunkI’m sure there are many more items in my narrative baggage, but for now, the useless ones I’ve identified include:

  • Being a woman (well, not really—I mean in the sense of viewing my gender as a form of disempowerment): as a woman and a parent, it’s easy to fall into the trap of putting everyone else first—our feminine superpower, our ability to nurture those around us, can also become our weakness.
  • Perfectionism: the inability to move forward until everything is just so (which it never will be, so I’ll never have to move on it).
  • Impostor syndrome: Who am I to be an expert in anything? How awful will it feel if people discover I’m really not?

I’m starting to think about this as the reverse of that children’s memory game: I’m going on a trip, and in my suitcase, I’m NOT taking…. Stay tuned to see how I do!

I’ll be in Scotland the next 2 weeks—follow me on Instagram @lizabakera2—and in the meantime, drop me a comment and let me know, what do YOU want to leave out of your suitcase going forward?