“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
[Neale Donald Walsch]
If you were to sit down and make a list to compare all the things you’ve done to all the things you wish you could do, which one do you think is longer? Are you one of those people who doesn’t even want to think about it because it’s excruciatingly painful to realize that the ratio between “done that been there” and “if only” was a whopping 20:80?
If you think about it, and I mean really think about it, the things that you pass up aren’t that much scarier than the things you settled for. The choices you settle for lead to a boring, mediocre life. Isn’t that much scarier? Living a monotonous existence is all good if that’s really what you wanted. And if it is what you really wanted, then it wouldn’t be something you just settled with, is it?
I used to think that living an adventurous life meant having the means (financially) to do it. But an adventure is defined by each person’s level of excitement and interests, not by their financial capabilities or stereotypical beliefs of what an adventure means. It’s different for everyone because no one person is exactly the same. One woman’s 10k diamond might be another woman’s sore eyes. What I mean is that my idea of adventure is having a romantic picnic overlooking the city near home while Beyonce’s idea of adventure is flying to Paris for a day to have a romantic picnic overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Don’t get me wrong, I consider that to be an amazing adventure! But Beyonce would probably consider my adventure to be ordinary.
The important lesson to be learned here is that each and every one of us can begin to live adventurously in our own way. Maybe you aren’t at that place in your life yet because you don’t know exactly where to begin. All you really need is the inspiration and a few simple tips to get your foot in the door. Or in this case, get your foot out the door.
1. Start small
Living adventurously does not have to be an “all or nothing” or “go big or go home” kind of deal. You can start small. Eventually, you will feel more comfortable, have more confidence, and be stronger to dive into more exhilarating activities. Wherever you start and however small, it will feel adventurous because it’s a new experience for you.
If you don’t know where to begin, here are mini-adventure ideas to get you started.
2. Make a list. Better yet, create a vision board
There is only one effective way to begin any new venture — visualize it! Some people have photographic memories which is great, but for the rest of us it’s nice to SEE things on paper. I keep a big cork board in my room and pin photos and magazine clippings that I want to have or do. I hung the cork board on a wall between the bedroom and bathroom so I can see it every time I walk by. And with my tiny bladder, I see quite often. This helped ignite a feeling of excitement and I can see myself in those photos. Kind of like role playing in my head. It keeps the desire burning which builds more excitement. Next thing I know, the cork board starts to look empty because I’ve removed all the photos that I’ve experienced. Then I just add some more!
I have such great feelings of achievement every time I take a photo down. Now, I make it a point to keep my Vision Board filled. When I take a photo down, I automatically replace it with another. This way, I’m never without an adventure!
3. Preparation is for key
Piggy banking on the “role playing in my head” I took it a step further by doing a “dress rehearsal”. It’s exactly what it sounds like. When I made a promise to myself that I would visit Paris come hell or high water within one year of making that commitment, I was making less than $30k and was the sole provider for me and my two kids. But I did not let that stop me from dreaming. In fact, I started doing research on must-dos and must-eats while in Paris. I put together a wardrobe suited for a French lifestyle and packed it in a suitcase. I didn’t care that my finest pieces of clothing were tucked away and wouldn’t be worn for a year. I was ok with that because it would feel like a brand new wardrobe when I finally do get to wear it…in Paris! I also made sure that my passport wasn’t expired and I started to learn basic French.
Guess what happened a year later. I graduated from college and as a gift from my amazing mother, she took me on a 2-week 5-country tour to Europe. All expenses paid! One of the cities on the list to visit — Paris.
Not all adventures will happen the way my Paris dream came to life. But the moral of the story here is to act as if it’s already happening. If you’re planning a romantic getaway, don’t just daydream about how wonderful it would be. You can start prepping the actual event. Go out and buy that sexy lingerie. Start decorating the cover of your “Romantic Trip” scrapbook. Making this a habit will keep you on your toes that will jumpstart an adventurous life.
4. Stop making excuses
Now that you’ve hyped yourself up by envisioning and preparing for your next adventure, it’s time to start booking it.
This is a big challenge for many of us because we can’t seem to get pass the “money” and “time” barrier. There’s always some excuse like “I’ll book it once I have the money,” or “The deals for these dates don’t work for me so I’ll wait for another deal to come around.” There’s always something.
One of my favorite posts from one of my favorite travel bloggers lists a step-by-step process on how to make a travel dream come true and overcome the Never-Go-To-Ireland syndrome.
When you hear of an amazing event happening in your area, register for it then save it in your calendar. When planning for that romantic getaway, book the first great deal you find. Doing too much research and comparing all the prices opens the door to too many options. When you have too many options, it’s hard to choose. And then you don’t end up choosing anything because now your head hurts from all that thinking. Then violà! You’ve managed to conjure up another excuse to postpone your life.
5. Say YES
Ever wondered if the word “No” was never part of our vocabulary? What if all we could say was “Yes!” Imagine all the crazy adventures and wild experiences we can get ourselves into? And that’s the idea.
Jim Carrey in Yes Man explains it best. Carl (Jim Carrey) was a skeptic and miserable man who, after attending a “Yes” seminar, changed his mundane life by saying YES to everything. It wasn’t because he suddenly got a premonition after attending said seminar. It was due to the extreme negative outcome when he said “No” and a completely opposite result when he said “Yes.” Scared of what will happen next with a non-yes response, he drank the Kool-Aid and magical things started to happen. His life suddenly went from dull to exhilarating.
Experiences like these does not have to be confined in the theaters. We can all be Yes Man. Try it for a month. Just don’t tell anyone because it ruins the element of surprise. Even if you really don’t want to say Yes, say it anyway and do it! This little experiment will ignite a confidence you didn’t think you had. One small Yes will lead to bigger Yeses and you are on your way to living adventurously!