Swapping home for the Himalayas

Having just returned from a three-week trip trekking Himalayas, I stepped straight back into the bustling day-to-day again almost straight off the plane.

We all love to be busy that’s why we push ourselves and thrive to succeed. But I find increasingly that we as a generation (myself included in this) struggle to know when to separate work life from home life. It also just so happened that I returned from my trip and back into the office, at the start of National Work Life Week; an annual event which aims to bring awareness to the importance of keeping your two lives separate.

I write this as I settle back into my typically manic schedule of events, board meetings, team catch-ups and daily office tasks – from some of the most challenging, yet rewarding, three weeks of my life. I waited a long time to get to Everest Base Camp, sixteen years in fact. Back in 2001, I was making plans to trek in the Himalayas when I found out I was pregnant with my son. Sadly, trekking across rope bridges and over glaciers when eight months pregnant didn’t seem like a sensible idea, so I was forced to put my plans on hold.

Now, three children, starting a new business and many months of planning later, I have just returned from the trip of a lifetime; with the memories, bumps and bruises to show for it! Throughout the trip, I learned five main lessons which I have and will continue to take away and apply to daily home and work life. These are as follows:

  1. Always carefully prepare.
  2. Give your body a break when it’s under pressure, and listen to what the people around you tell you.
  3. Be prepared for the unexpected, and adapt fast. 
  4. A break is a break. You can only fully recharge if you give your brain a rest.
  5. Nothing worth achieving is ever easy. Don’t moan, crack on with it and make yourself proud.

During the trip itself, I realised that nothing can quite prepare you for the beauty and lushness of the Himalayas. Every type of flora and fauna riotously displayed from every angle. The sites were simply stunning, the peace and quiet was soothing, and the challenges were rewarding. There were tough times of course, – waking up at 4am to climb the 5,357m Gokyo Ri to see the sunrise over Everest was absolutely unmissable and the highlight of my trip by far, but was equally the toughest physical thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Getting to Everest base camp was an emotional moment. Both my parents were keen walkers and I imagined how proud they would have been, seeing me getting that far, in one piece. It was here that my fifth rule really rung true; no matter how hard it is, if you just crack on, you will succeed, and you will make yourself proud.
I managed to pocket a small rock from base camp which now sits pride of place on my mantelpiece. While it’s a great talking point, my lasting memory of the trip is the silence, calmness and majesty of the Himalayas.

I feel very lucky when I reflect upon my achievements in both my life and career. But I also remember the sleepless nights, challenges and relentless efforts I had to put in to get to where I am now. We all love to be busy, of course; but in amidst the frantic lives of home and work that we all get caught up in, I cannot stress enough the importance of regularly taking the time to stop, breathe, and restart.
Whether you do this by following my footsteps and pushing yourself to do something bold and challenging that you’ve always dreamed of, or something as simple as leaving your phone off for the weekend; always remember to take the time to keep your life balanced.

cathy About the author

This article was provided by Cathy Hayward, Magenta Associates.

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