It’s been said, a lot can happen in a year. And while true, are we usually deliberate about our intentions over the course of a year?

Nicki Carrea writes about what she learned after a trip to India one year ago.

Last year at this time I was returning from a 2-week trip to India. I was supposed to visit with a friend, and 3 weeks before we were to leave, her schedule changed and she told me that she would no longer be traveling overseas. I made the decision to continue with the plans and travel by myself. 

It was the first time I ever traveled internationally alone, but I had always wanted to visit India and knew first-hand the benefits that come from seeing a new culture and having brand new experiences. I was at a crossroads. Although we are always making choices and decisions that impact our future, I had a lot on my mind. For one, I had moved to New York City 3 years ago. I was renting an apartment in Williamsburg, but the lack of space and convenience was starting to get to me. The golden glow of the city lights were fading and being replaced by dimly lit and overcrowded subway rides. The buzz and energy was still there, but harder for me to access over the crowded streets, sirens, and car horns. My view of lower Manhattan was amazing, but it didn’t make doing laundry in a shared building laundry room any easier. I knew for months I had a decision to make – stay or leave?

I also had to make some work decisions. I had launched my own business 4 years prior, and the satisfaction I thought it would bring me wasn’t there. I needed to figure out why and somehow change or pivot my work load so I could enjoy what I was doing, and get back to the original purpose that led me to create Genuine Glow. 

My trip started in Mumbai, and I barely had time to think. Between the time difference, adapting to the way of life, being alone in a completely foreign place, the intensity, the number of people on the streets, the number of people who asked for a picture with me, transportation challenges, a quasi-kidnapping, etc… I never got around to thinking about much more than what was happening in front of me. My evenings were spent eating traditional Indian food, drinking brown liquor, processing the craziness of the day, and course correcting my next day plans based on what I learned being out and about that day.

After a week I headed to Jaipur. After some incidents in Mumbai left me a little shaken, I knew I had to do things differently in Jaipur. I hired a driver and scheduled 2 tours to see the city. I would not be making the same mistakes. India was beautiful and full of culture and history and wonderful people, but I needed to make adjustments so I could experience all of that safely. 

It was in Jaipur that I finally felt my head begin to clear, which allowed me to take note of what I was feeling. I could think without distraction and prioritize. I made sure I had an hour each afternoon to process the day and reflect, tuning into my feelings instead of what was happening around me. It was interesting for me to see first-hand how quickly I could adjust and make changes when it came to travel, but how difficult I made the process to change when it came to my real life. And how easy it was for me to access new thoughts, ideas, and feelings when I gave myself permission to do so. 

For at least a year I had felt dissatisfaction with work, yet I was committed to the track I was on because it’s how I believed you grow and operate a business (based on seeing/reading how other people did it). And for at least a year I browsed real estate and thought about buying a home, but yet I hadn’t moved or taken any tangible steps to change my surroundings. 

My experiences in Mumbai and Jaipur were as different as day and night, and I personally facilitated that within a couple of days. Spending a week in Mumbai taught me I could trust myself and it also showed me I was someone who took action. Every day I woke up early, got ready, ate breakfast and was out by 9:00am. I had no one to hold me accountable. I could have spent my days at the spa, or in my room, or at the pool, but instead I got out and experienced. And when it got hard I didn’t quit, I learned and made adjustments. Why wasn’t I doing this in my own life?

So after an amazing 1st day exploring Jaipur, I sat outside in the Rambagh Palace courtyard and the thought came to me – – I needed to let go of what I thought I wanted my life to look like, what I thought my life should look like, and start building a life better suited for me. A life built on what actually brought me satisfaction, not what I thought or believed would make me happy. 

Now I see it like making a scorecard of sorts. Listing all the things we do during a day, week, month, year – and ranking each activity, person, responsibility and so on. And instead of just dismissing or tossing the low ranking ones to the side, we could first check to see if we could make adjustments to improve those things and our relationship to them. If not, then yes…maybe they had to go. But I’ve found we can actually adjust most things to better fit into our lives. 

I put aside all the images I created of what I thought my life should look like and asked myself one thing – to remember the times I felt fulfilled. I could think of so many instances where I felt safe and settled and happy. The list was across the board. Anywhere from the feeling of walking through the front door of my previous condo, laughs and conversation with old friends, an email from a satisfied customer thanking me for my help, an amazing movie or concert, certain business interactions, the comfort of family, conveying a message clearly, an early morning jog, and so on… These feelings were so easy to access and I started to think about how I could pivot my current daily responsibilities and circumstances to feel them more often. 

Once I allowed myself to feel satisfaction, my priority became getting back to that feeling. I had clear intentions, so when I returned to the US I knew how to follow through. For starters, I realized I wasn’t as much as a city girl as I thought I was. When I moved to New York I envisioned going to Soul Cycle in the morning, hopping around the city from meeting to meeting, having a martini after work and then dinner at the coolest new restaurant. But New York taught me that I was much more of a homebody than I realized. And after a long day I liked comfy clothes, watching Bravo, and dinner and wine at home. 

I also realized what I was missing in my job was authentic human connection. I had become so focused on taking meetings with investors, getting products out to influencers, social media marketing, and attending industry events that I completely ignored what I’m best at and where I’m happiest – and that’s creating partnerships and relationships with people. 

In a few short days, without any outside interruption I was able to get to the heart of what I was trying to figure out for months. I set into motion a plan right then and there. First, I made sure Genuine Glow was a specialized beauty brand. I originally listened to outsiders tell me I needed a full product line when I really wanted to concentrate on our hero product – exfoliation. So I changed that. I wrote all the content myself to make sure it was my message, and it was truthful. I started Genuine Glow to make people feel good about themselves, so I made sure any traditional beauty wording that could cause insecurity or make anyone feel bad about themselves was removed. I had always wanted to let the efficacy of our ingredients speak for itself, and talk to our customers like they were our friends. I didn’t want to tell people they needed to look different to be happy, but I had bought into that philosophy after seeing other brands do it, so I corrected that. I changed the packaging and the website. I tightened up all our back office operations so my focus could be on our partnerships and customers. 

I also moved. Although tough to swallow at first, I left New York City and renovated a place right outside of the city. It’s on the Hudson River and 3 miles from Manhattan, but on the nights and weekends it feels like another world, and it gives me everything I need right now. 

I try to challenge my beliefs a lot. In a sense we are all living in our own bubble, so even though I try to get out of my own whenever possible; I know I’m still influenced by who and what’s around me. That’s one of the reasons travel is such an important part of my life. I always learn and grow whenever I’m able to look at things for the first time or when I’m put in new situations. 

We don’t all have to go to India to have an awakening, but it taught me that if we’re able to remove distractions, opinions, and preconceived ideas, that the right answer – the right answer for us at least – is closer than we think. We already know it; we just have to remove the clutter to uncover it.  

Nicki Carrea believes that true beauty is synonymous with well-being. In 2015 she established Genuine Glow, an inside-outside wellness and skin care brand, and is a published beauty and wellness writer and speaker. Drawing on her life experiences she conceptualized and launched the Genuine Glow blog, which spotlights authentic voices, and creates a platform for shared experiences and human connection. Nicki is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and currently resides in New York City. You can connect with Nicki here: LinkedIn

Genuine Glow is a wellness and skin care brand that creates nutrient-rich exfoliators and specializes in inside-outside health and beauty. Established in 2015, Genuine Glow has been nominated for 3 CEW Awards (Best New Indie Beauty Brand, Best New Indie Skin Care Brand, and Best Exfoliator/Scrub) and chosen as a Top 50 Breakthrough Beauty Brand. You can connect with the brand here: Website, Instagram, Facebook

“Genuine Glow™ products and blog are not intended to cure, treat, prevent, mitigate or diagnose any disease, and are not intended to affect the structure or any function of the human body. The Genuine Glow blog is based on anecdotal wisdom and the experiences and research reported by others. We are not medical professionals and we have not independently tested these claims. Always consult your physician or mental healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical or psychiatric condition or if you seek medical advice.”

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