October 05, 2004
Libby Gill is a success strategist, executive coach and author of a new book, Traveling Hopefully: How to Lose Your Family Baggage and Jumpstart Your Life. She answers questions about the inspiration behind her book and how she transformed her failing marriage and unsatisfying career to a life with greater freedom, creativity and passion. For an excerpt of Traveling Hopefully, click here.
Q: Why did you choose to title your book Traveling Hopefully?
A: The title of the book comes from Robert Louis Stevenson who said, “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” Ever since I first heard those words in college, I believed that I could find a better way to live, that I could go forward with hope despite whatever obstacles stood in my way. And I have. I wrote Traveling Hopefully because I wanted to show other people that they could move toward a more joyful life built not on someone else’s beliefs and values, but on their own.
Q: What obstacles held you back from living the life you wanted?
A: It took me a long time to realize how much of my life has been shaped by my family’s story. When I turned 40, I finally found the courage to admit that I had worked very hard to get exactly where I didn’t want to be. My marriage was failing. I was overstressed and overweight. The successful image I presented to the outside world had little relation to who I was on the inside. I was flat-out miserable and desperate to change my life.
Q: How do you change your life?
A: My first step was to look at my family baggage. What I saw was that I’d built my life on the shaky foundation of my father’s emotional distance, my brother’s sudden death, and my stepmother’s suicide. Like a lot of people, I’d never really looked at how all these negative messages were influencing me, but once I learned to dissect my past so I could direct my future, I stopped lugging around all that baggage and began to live the life I wanted.
Q: So are our parents to blame for our family baggage?
A: Not at all. Unloading your family baggage isn’t about blaming your parents. You can’t change the past, but you can examine your perceptions about the past and then decide if you are hanging onto baggage better left behind. Once you do that, you begin to create a much healthier perspective on your past and its power over you.
Q: How can your book help other people lose their baggage?
A: I’m a very practical person. Although I was desperate to loosen the grip of my past so that I could change my life, I realized that change is an ongoing process. It requires that you take bold steps as you open your mind with the right tools and exercises. Changing your life is about designing a specific plan of action so you can envision and then actively create the life you want, instead of waiting around for change to happen. I’ve seen the Traveling Hopefully process work in my own life, as well as in the lives of my clients, colleagues and students.
Q: Is that what you mean by “jumpstart your life”?
A: Jumpstarting your life is what happens when you get rid of all that baggage and begin to live a life that speaks to your beliefs, goals and values — not someone else’s. It took me a lifetime to figure out the Five Steps to Jumpstart Your Life that are at the heart of my book and then to refine them into a repeatable process that is easy to use. But it doesn’t have to take you that long.
Q: What are the Five Steps to Jumpstart Your Life?
A: They are the five basic principles that keep you moving forward, or traveling hopefully, toward the life you want. They are:
Q: How do you put these steps in practice?
A: The Five Steps help you turn abstract concepts into concrete action by first explaining the principles involved in simple, concise language so that you can understand the nature of change and how we let our negative baggage and beliefs hold us back. Along with the steps are the 21 Hopeful Tools, which show you how to take those theories and turn them into action steps in your daily life, starting right now.
Q: What are the 21 Hopeful Tools and how do they work?
A: The 21 Hopeful Tools take you first on an internal journey to wake up your inner voice of passion, spirituality and childhood dreams, then help you translate that sense of internal vision and external action.
Some of the tools designed to stimulate your internal creative self include:
Tools that tap into your external self and guide you toward concrete action include:
Q: How did your life change when you began to use the Five Steps?
A: After almost 15 years in senior management, running corporate communications and public relations divisions at three major entertainment studios, I left the corporate world and founded my own company. I also made the difficult decision to leave my marriage and, in my 40s, began my personal and professional lives all over. It wasn’t easy starting over, but once I learned to combine passion with a plan, my life began to change in profound and positive ways. Perhaps most satisfying of all, my relationships with my family have healed dramatically and become a source of joy.
For more information on Libby Gill and her book, Traveling Hopefully, go to www.libbygill.com.