Why being disconnected from your everyday life helps you finding the true questions to address, how to create the environment you need to get the answers and become your life designer.

GilisJune 2014. Indonesia. That’s where all started. Sunny days, fishy tropical waters, white sand beaches, end of an amazing trip around Flores and Lombok islands. In a word: paradise (I almost forgot the amazing seafood!). The end of a 2 weeks total disconnection. No computer, most places with no signal or Wi-Fi. But most important of all, 15 days with my cousins I didn’t meet for a while. 3 different people, different jobs, different points of view. I couldn’t have done it alone.

Figuring out what you want to do isn’t always helpful

My 2 years contract in Jakarta was about to end. What’s next? I read the usual tips “review your strengths and qualities”, answer the famous “what do you want to do?”. It was pretty clear to me: strong experience in energy efficiency and green building design, living abroad and discovery addiction. Was clear, simple, so I started picking potential future destinations, looking for companies. But I couldn’t even write my resume, neither motivation nor excitement were there.

Truth is there was another answer: entrepreneurship. I’ve always wanted to set-up my own business, so maybe it was the time! Entrepreneurship was a vague concept and I truly believed first steps must be taken in a friendly-environment. This meant getting closer to my friends and family moving back to France. So I was facing a hard dilemma: come back to France and start my company or keep working abroad. It burnt my brain during several weeks, never coming up with a solution.

Make sure you’re addressing the right questionKanawa island - Indonesia

Actually, the problem was not in the answers, they were good ones to that question. But to the wrong question, it’s almost impossible to address a good answer.

During the 15 days disconnection, island hopping and simply enjoying life, I started reading The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and The Strategist by Cynthia Montgomery. They literally blew my mind and provoked a tremendous change in my vision. Even if I disagreed with some of their topics or recommendations, they opened my mind enriching me with another way of thinking. And most important, I understood the question is not “what do you want to do?” but “who do you want to be?”. What do you want your life to look like?

Retro-design your own path – start by the end

So I started “designing” my future, beginning by the end: let’s find a job allowing me to be an entrepreneur while travelling around the world. I listed my skills and tried to match them with these 2 main targets. 15+ ideas popped out of my head. Sharing with my cousins was the best brainstorming ever. They destroyed ideas in a blink and highlighted some. Obviously, many ideas were bad or already existing (and well done), but some feasible, and some of them easily. That’s how and why I started GreenBuilding4All.

Many weeks of unsuccessful personal reflections have been swept out in 2 weeks. Like for many brain-teasers, the solution was right in front of me, but my mindset was too narrowed to see it.

Here is the recipe: plan a trip, go somewhere to disconnect from your everyday life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be heaven on earth (even though it’s really enjoyable), just pick a relaxing and quiet spot. Be surrounded by people you trust, talk, share, enjoy and read. They’ll all fill in your head with new stuff that will open your mind and enlarge your vision. It seems simple, and it is! It may not be universal, but it worked for me. This 2 weeks step-back changed my life.

To go further:


  • Gili Trawangan – Lombok – Indonesia
  • Kanawa island – Komodo – Indonesia

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