November 20th, 2009
Living the life of one’s dreams is something many people believe to be a myth….yet; you are living proof that one can achieve this goal…Tell us about the path you traveled to arrive where you are today:
For many years I wanted to combine my passion for environmentalism with my love of travel and my acumen for business. I had the idea to create a collection of sustainable boutique resorts before I left New York, but I certainly never thought that I would start in Bangladesh!
In 2006 I quit my senior executive job at a large real estate finance company to do a year of service internationally. I was selected as a Fulbright Fellow to Bangladesh and spent a year researching low income housing for the garment workers. Once I finally got out of the dirty, crowded, noisy city of Dhaka, I was amazed by the beauty of the Bangladeshi countryside! I travelled around the country quite a bit and spoke to many of my foreign friends and realized that there was actually quite a strong demand here for the type of product that I wanted to build and virtually no supply! (There are a couple of small eco huts in various parts of the country, but no luxury resorts – eco or otherwise.)
When my Fulbright Fellowship ended, I did a survey and a market and feasibility study here and determined that there are about 30,000 foreign expatriates and approximately 40,000 wealthy Bangladeshis living in Dhaka who would love to escape to a luxury retreat in the country. As a result, I decided to turn down the couple of executive job offers that I had in the US and UK and stayed in Bangladesh to start Panigram Resort (which I hope will be the first of many sustainable boutique resorts in developing countries around the world!)
What kept you moving forward on the days things were not going exactly the way you were hoping they would?
I believe that everything happens for a reason and that when bad things happen it is the universe’s way of telling you that you are not on the right path. Whenever something I perceive of as negative happens, I automatically say to myself, “OK, this just means that something better is on the way.” And something better always comes.
For example, I lost three pieces of land that I was originally trying to buy for the resort. It was very frustrating and disheartening, but now I have land that is many times more beautiful than the other properties that I was trying to buy, so it was actually a good thing that I lost the other land. This kind of “trading up” has happened MANY times to me throughout this process. At first it was frustrating, but now that I know that something better is on the way I actually get a bit excited when something goes wrong because I am eager to see what happens next!
Also, it is important to recognize the negative emotion that you are experiencing without surrendering to it. When something goes “wrong” I give myself some time to feel bad – usually from 30 seconds to 10 minutes depending on how negative the situation seems to me. I give myself permission to feel bad for that amount of time, and then I say to myself I will feel better and look forward to the next thing that is coming. It is interesting, but whenever I mentally say this to myself, the discomfort always goes away before the time that I have allotted myself is up.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who has decided they would like to live in a world of their own creation?
Just do it! It really isn’t as hard as you think that it is! The only thing that is stopping you is you. You need to get over whatever mental blockades you have created for yourself over the years. The most common block/excuse that I encounter is “I have a family and I need to support them.” My answer to that is that there are many types of families in the world living in many different ways. I know families in Bangladesh that are living on $1 a day who are happier than some of my friends who make six figures a year. Those people are choosing their current lifestyle/situation over something that could be potentially much better for them down the road (operative word being “choosing”!) Nobody else is putting them in that situation.
All growth comes with a certain amount of discomfort. It was hard for me to give up my apartment, my executive job, and all of my possessions and leave my friends and family behind to move to Bangladesh, but I am at least 50 times happier now than I was in my old life. There was definitely an adjustment period and I still have days of uncertainty, but every day I do something that I love. I have a completely free lifestyle and am no longer tethered to an office. I work the hours I want and I find my work challenging, exciting, interesting, inspiring, and creative. I no longer feel like I have a “work life” and a “personal life”; I just have a “life” and it is fabulous!
One other piece of advice that I have is to make sure that you take some action every day to come closer to your goals. To get where you want, you need to know where you want to go. You DON’T need to know the path to get there however. And when I say “where you want to go” I mean the lifestyle that you want for yourself, not the job that you want to have; the job is the path, the lifestyle is the goal.
Once you have your goal, you need to take a step every day in the direction of that goal. Don’t worry about the whole path, just focus on the next step that you can think of. Jack Canfield gave a great analogy of this when he said that you can drive all the way from New York to California at night as long as you can see the next 100 feet in front of you. Just focus on those 100 feet and the road will take you there. Some days the action might be really small – like doing research on the web or sending an email to somebody who knows something about what you want to do. Other days it might be larger like spending all day creating a business plan or moving to Bangladesh!
The key is to take some action EVERY DAY no matter how small that action is. Taking action every day focuses your mind more on what you want, then you start to notice more steps that will lead you toward your goal. When I started Panigram I had no idea how to create a resort! Each day I took action though, now I have an amazing team of advisors who are helping me build my dreams!
What special things do you do for yourself daily to maintain your momentum and energy levels?
Every day I take some time to do something nice for myself. i.e. going for a swim, having lunch with a friend, or watching a movie. The goal is to have the lifestyle of my dreams, so I chose to have that NOW instead of waiting for it to magically happen. It’s not like a race where you run as hard as you can and then hope that somebody gives you a medal at the end; it is more like a stroll through the park where the whole point is to stop and appreciate the view along the way.
Even though I haven’t even broken ground on my resort yet I am living the life of my dreams NOW. I work when I need/want to and play the rest of the time! To me, life is about having fun and amazing experiences. The energy comes from being happy.
If you could spend 3 days on a deserted island with two people of your choosing, who would they be and why?
If I were to go to a deserted island for three days I would go alone. Bangladesh is so crowded that it would be nice to have some privacy!
What is your favorite audio material and what do you enjoy most about this material?
The audio materials that I listen to the most are my meditation CDs. They relax me and have helped me become a calmer, more focused person.
What is your favorite reading material and what gives it that special place in your heart?
I LOVE to read. I have over 2,000 books. I can’t chose my favorite, there are just too many. I love both fiction and non-fiction. I have books on every subject: physics, economics, urban design, architecture, painting, origami – you name it I probably have a book on it!
Who has inspired you and what is it about them that you found inspirational?
There isn’t really one person that inspired me. There are stories that have inspired me, buildings that have inspired me, natural places that have inspired me… Actually, now that I think about it, I find inspiration everywhere. For example, I was in the market the other day and I saw some clay pots made by villagers and they were sitting next to some modern lampshades and I thought, “What if we have the people in the pottery village near Panigram make the bases for the lamps that we will use in the resort? We could have a group of village women make lampshades out of handmade paper and then just put them together ourselves…” That is really more how inspiration works for me. Things in my environment “talk” to me.
What do you see in your future?
I see myself having residences in many different beautiful places in the world, a loving family, and a job that I adore. I hope to create a collection of socially and environmentally responsible resorts in exotic locations.
Where is your favorite place in the world to spend time, what is special to you about this location?
I have been to so many amazing, beautiful places in the world! If I had to choose one place that I would say I would love to keep going back to though, it would probably be the south of France. I spent a summer there as a teenager and it is beautiful, relaxing, quiet, and picturesque – a great place for a break.
Who has been your greatest support system and how have they shown you their support?
My other entrepreneurial friends. It really helps to talk to other like-minded people who are going through the same processes that you are. They help me grow and encourage me to keep going, even in the tougher times.
What / who are you most thankful for and why?
I am thankful for everything in my life! So I guess that if I had to chose one thing I would say life itself! It is truly an amazing thing to be a human being and to be able to have all of these amazing experiences.
What is your favorite way to contribute or give back?
I designed my company to be socially and environmentally responsible so that I would be able to make a contribution every day. In addition, I really enjoy working with students and mentoring them. For example right now I have for interns from my alma mater, Cornell University, working with me here in Bangladesh.
Please share the top three things you feel people would benefit from doing if they truly desire to create the life of their dreams?
1. Take some time to envision how you want your life to be. This is the “goal” (your job is just a “path”). I like creating vision boards using photos that I have cut out of magazines to help me focus on this vision every day. Put the board in a prominent place and spend a few minutes a day focusing on it.
2. Take one step (action) every day that brings you closer to your goal. Even if you don’t know exactly what that step should be, take some action. The action can be small like researching something you are interested in on the internet or sending an email to somebody who knows something about what you want to do. The most important thing is to act EVERY DAY. You will get much farther taking a baby step every day than you will taking a leap once a month.
3. Use your emotional guidance system to keep you on track. If you don’t feel good about doing something, then you are not heading in the right direction. Try to become more aware of your emotions, they will always steer you the right way.
What products and services do you offer to assist others on their journey?
When my resort is open (est. Q1 2011) we will offer a relaxing, inspiring retreat for people who want to re-evaluate their lives. I find that there is nothing like changing your environment to give you a new perspective, and Bangladesh is certainly a different environment! Panigram Resort and Spa will have a variety of services and activities that will help guests bring their minds and bodies back into balance.
Thank you Kristin for sharing your words of inspiration with us today. I encourage everyone to take a few minutes and visit Kristin’s site at: http://www.panigram.com/ and connect with her today!
Caryn Gottlieb FitzGerald, “the Manifesting Queen”
Set your mind to it and create it today!
EmbracingMyJourney L.L.C. was created by Caryn FitzGerald in 2008.
Caryn, known as "The Manifesting Queen" is a motivational columnist, speaker and writer, she has been featured in and published several books, including "Tulips In The Sand" "Fish Sticks, Books and Blue Jeans" “Manifest Success” “Visual Arts Junction Interviews” & “Online Marketing Success Stories..."
Caryn is a domestic violence survivor who has triumphed over a 10-year battle with anorexia and bulimia. She is a wife, mother, healthy-aging-specialist, writer, speaker, blogger, coach and a health food enthusiast Click to connect with Caryn at her website
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