Redefining Success: From Salon Owner to Ocean Rower

Yesterday I participated in a Q&A event by Success by Design. The questions were brilliant so I wanted to document the answers on here.

I’ve added some of my thoughts at the end of some questions in italic.

Briefly introduce yourself.
My name is Laura Try, I’m an endurance athlete and ocean rower. But before you think I’ve been doing that all my life, it’s a fairly recent thing. 

For most of my adult life, I was a shopaholic beauty salon owner.

When I hit 30 I had a bit of a panic and felt as though life was passing me by. That’s when I started running. A small run to the end of my road turned into 10km, then marathons and adventure races, which later lead to me rowing around Great Britain and across the Atlantic Ocean.

Now I am a professional adventurer and speaker, sharing my journey of having fewer things and more experiences.

I still have to pinch myself when I look at how much my life has changed over the last 5 years.
From successful beauty salon owner to homeless to ocean rower and speaker.
I am so thankful to be able to speak about my journey as, selfishly, it gives me an opportunity to think about all that has happened and what I have learnt from it.

Take us back – what did success use to look like? 
Success for me used to be earning lots of money and buying lots of nice things. I had all the latest technology and gadgets, cute furniture and a wardrobe bursting full of designer clothes.
I’d show the world how successful I was with how may nice things I owed.

The more money I earnt the more I spent.

How do you measure success today and what does life look like?
Today my success is measured in a completely different way to what it used to be. I now measure it by how relaxed and content I feel and how much enjoyment I get from life.

Obviously I still need to earn money to live comfortably but once I’ve met that baseline, I now engage in work that I really want to do, not because of how much money I make from it.

What was the tipping point where you decided to make a change in your old life?
Despite earning good money from my beauty salon, something wasn’t right. Over several years, I had begun falling out of love with the business, much like what happens in some relationships.

I describe the salon as if it was a boyfriend. He was good looking, took me to all the nice places and bought me nice things. He was charming, funny and my friend’s loved him but I didn’t love him. That’s how I felt about my salon.

There wasn’t one moment that changed it for me, it was a gradual process. I kept trying to fall back in love with the business but it didn’t work.

One morning I arrived at work and there was a dead pigeon on the doorstep. Another morning I’d discovered someone had smashed the window at the front of the shop after a boozy weekend.
Then there was the day I arrived into work to find water pouring from the ceiling – the guy who lived above the shop had left the tap on all evening and it had soaked through the 2 floors of my shop, damaging thousands of pounds of stock and ruining all the floor.

I had staff and a diary full of clients and had to cancel all business until the floor was refitted. There was always something happening and I found it very stressful.

Since my early twenties, I taught myself how to run my business and did not have a business partner or advisor. It all began getting too much and it wasn’t making me happy anymore.
Towards the end, I spent more time sad than I did happy. That’s when I decided it wasn’t right for me anymore.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your new chapter?  
Keep things simple.
Living with less means more! More time & more space.
Don’t overthink things or get in a fluster. Enjoy life!
Make small steps each day towards your goal.
Keep relaxed, take time out and enjoy the process.
Do jobs you enjoy and want to do.

How do you plan your life (set goals/visualise)? 
I have an aspirations board – a canvas board which is sectioned into life categories; family, hobbies, self development, career, relationships etc.

It’s got pictures of the things I want to achieve on it, which I’ve printed off and stuck on with Pritt-stick.

I’ve been making aspirations boards since 2014 and they used to be full of things, such as Chanel sunglasses.
Now they are full of achievements and people.

I also have 4 whiteboards where I write my Master Plan, goals, action plan and income ideas. I look at them every day which help me stay focused on what I’d like to do and achieve.

At the end of the event, someone asked me how often I update my Aspirations Board and whiteboards. I update them when a). I have achieved some of the things or b). if my goals/values change and I want to update it.

Do you have any daily routines that you follow?
I have a morning routine that I do most mornings.
It includes getting up at 5am, making my bed, a cup of turbo tea, 5 Minute Journal, 10 reps of an exercise (which is currently press-ups), 10 minutes of meditation and kegel exercises from an app.

I also exercise most mornings. It sets me up for the day and gets it done.

I have a schedule that I’ve designed which breaks down my day into hour sections. In each section, I write what I’d do each hour, for example: work, relaxation, morning routine etc.
I try and stick to it as best as I can but it doesn’t always happen. It’s great to have it there though to keep me focused and on track.

What would you have done differently knowing what you do today? 
After falling out of love with my beauty salon and discovering my love for adventure and the outdoors aged 30, I closed my salon aged 32 after having it for 9 years.

A few years ago, I started to feel a little regret about that as I was in a terrible place with my mental health and also financially. But looking at it now, it was definitely the right decision. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so impulsive though……

What I should have done was take a step back, have a think and assess the situation. I should have been more appreciative and grateful for what I had because I had a great thing, but at the time all I saw were the negatives.

Without that decision though, perhaps I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What advice would you give your younger self?
Be grateful.
Be appreciative.
Through the good and the bad.

I threw a lot of good things away in my younger years. I didn’t realise they were good at the time but realise it now; a good business, good boyfriends, friends, all because I was searching for bigger, better and more perfect.

Be grateful.
Stop, think, assess, adapt and improve.

Know when things are good and know when things need to change.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I write most of my blogs for myself – they are kind of like therapy. They allow me to reflect and learn.
Thank you, Abigail Barnes, for inviting me to be a part of your event.