10 Life Lessons I Learned This Winter in Japan


On a snowboarding trip to Japan 4 years ago, my husband and I stumbled across a little village called Akakura Onsen. At the time it was a sleepy little village that had great mountains to ride and lots of snow. A divine encounter with a real estate agent while having lunch that day led us down a path of buying, renovating and opening a hotel, restaurant, and cafe in January of this year.

The past 6 months I have been living in Japan helping my husband finish the renovations, get everything ready and in order, and then run all 3 operations. It has been an intense, stressful, and valuable rollercoaster journey. For the first time since embarking on this crazy ride, I now find myself with some time to reflect on what has just been achieved in a short space of time and the number of lessons I have learned along the way. 

I want to share with you 10 life lessons that this experience has deeply imprinted on me and guidelines I will be living my life by going forward. Here is some of what I learned:  

  1. Quitting is simply not an option. Don’t start if your not 100% committed to the whole journey. You need to be ready, willing and able for every up, down, twist and turn.  If it was easy everyone would do it. It is hard for a reason and giving up is not what helps dreams to be achieved. 
  2. Manage peoples expectations. As Antonio Banderas said, "Expectations is the mother of all frustration". If you don't clearly communicate with those around you what you need and/or expect it will just lead you to feel not only frustrated but dissatisfied, unloved, and disrespected. Use your voice. Speak up for what you need and how you want things to be. 
  3. Speak your truth no matter what you think it might cost you. This is a massive one. There were times I was pushed to my emotional limits and coupled with lack of sleep and lots of stress I found myself very clear about how I felt and what I really wanted. At times this scared the shit out of me as my mind created scenarios of how voicing this truth could play out in my life. At the same time, it was the clearest, truest message that came straight from my heart so I knew I could not ignore it. While the truth may sometimes seem difficult or even scary to voice, you must speak from your heart and in doing so you will gain more than you will lose. 
  4. People are easily influenced. Are you being led or are you leading? If you are leading, are you doing so from a place of love? Do you know what you stand for? Are you in touch with your values and what is important to you? Are you willing to stand up for those values? Are you willing to stand up for yourself despite what you think other people might think of you? 
  5. This too shall pass. In our heaviest, darkest moments it can be hard to see how there is a way out or how things will shift, ease or change. But it will. The only constant in life is change. This too shall pass. While you wait, do the best you can to take care of yourself. 
  6. Don’t make major life decisions when you are pushed to your emotional, physical and mental limits. Wait until you’ve had lots of sleep and time to really sit with what you are feeling. Journal about what you are going through or talk to someone you love and let them know what you are feeling. Leave the decision making for when you are able to do so from a calm and grounded place. 
  7. Surround yourself with people who support you and quickly get rid of those that don’t. This is now one of my non-negotiables. I saw too often how having the wrong people in my life created stress, drama, trouble, and negative energy and that the longer they were around the worse it got. We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. Choose your friends wisely. Do they support you? Do they want the best for you or are they just all about themselves? Are they lifting you up or dragging you down? If they are not adding value to your life or your friendship, its time to let them go. 
  8. Everything happens for you, not to you. I have always believed this and it was made even clearer to me these past 6 months. Everything we go through is laced in potential learnings and sometimes those learnings come from unexpected and difficult situations. Sometimes to feel truly alive we must experience the darker side of life. Tough times happen and we need to embrace these the same way we do our fun, loving, happy times. The darkness can hold some of our most powerful, hidden strengths that we may not even realise we have until we are called to draw on them.
  9. Always trust your gut instinct. When there is no time to think and when you are pushed to decide on the spot, always go with your first instinct. Your mind will try to step in and tell you otherwise. Politely ask it to step aside because your intuition knows best. Trust me on this and trust your gut too!
  10. You need to balance 'doing' with 'being'. When the dust finally settles and the hard work is done we must take time to rest, switch off and just be. We deserve it. We need it not only for our health and sanity but also for the life of all our future dreams. Give yourself the break you need whenever the time is right. 

Which of these life lessons resonates the most with you? What is something powerful you have learnt lately?