Adventure is an awesome word! What do you think of when you hear it? An action movie, something you have always wanted to do, or some memory of something you have done? When someone asks you if you have ever had an adventure if you say no or have to hesitate to remember when your last adventure was, then you need to get going!
Adventures come in all shapes and sizes and can be for young and old. Adventures are not just fun, they push you and make you stronger, they make you happier. A good adventure will push you past your comfort zone and help you to grow as a person.
Each person has a different idea of what an adventure is, but I promise you that an adventure that you have experienced will shape your life and stick with you much longer than any adventure you see on the tube. Don’t get me wrong, I love my T.V. as much or more than the next guy, but those T.V. shows or movies are not the things I remember when I think about the real adventures in life. I am talking about experiences you hold dear or that you tell your kids or friends about. I am talking about adventures where my heart was pounding, where I was scared and didn’t know what was going to happen, where the adventure pushed me to grow and let me know that I could do more than I thought!
I have climbed the corporate ladder and after climbing to the top of my company, I was still unfulfilled by my work. I was living someone else’s adventure and following their dreams. I finally left that job to try the adventure of starting my own business. I am not bragging about that; I am saying it because if that is something you want to do, then go for it!
Some of my most memorable adventures have been testing myself physically, but some of my most life changing adventures have pushed me more on the mental side. One of the biggest adventures any of us can experience is following our dreams!
I am at a place in life where I often think about what we are all told as kids, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” Somewhere along the path we lose confidence in this saying. We start settling for what is in front of us instead of pushing for what we want. Why do we do this? The answer is because it is more comfortable. Some people have life circumstances that change their plans and make them take a different route, but even in those circumstances we can choose to get back on track and follow our dreams, even if the journey will now take us longer.
I am not preaching, I am reminding myself what I believe in. My wife and I were able to build a successful business over a period of five years. We enjoyed the business, but always knew that was not our dream. Our dream was bigger and scarier. We chose to sell our business this past summer, but time has kept ticking since then and we have not stayed on the path of our dream.
We have let circumstances, emotions, or difficulties slow us down and keep us from our path. The biggest obstacle that I personally face is fear and self-doubt. I know I can duplicate what I have already accomplished, but I have moments of fear and self-doubt as to whether I can really accomplish what I have dreamed of.
Do you ever have something that you really want to do, but you avoid it because of that nagging doubt in the back of your mind? There is only one way I have personally found to keep accomplishing my goals in life. That key is to live a life of adventure! What I mean is regularly pushing your limits in different ways that make you grow as a person. Consistently pushing past what you thought your limits were increases your confidence and teaches you perseverance. Not every adventure needs to be with an end goal in site. The point is, if you want to do it, do it!
Starting my own business was one of my biggest adventures in life. Another of my favorite adventures I have experienced was a whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia. I went with a group of friends and we rafted on the toughest rafting river east of the Mississippi. I had talked about a trip like this for years, but never did it. Haven’t we all had things we said we wanted to do and just kept putting off or never got to? I finally did it and I rode in the front of the raft the whole time!
When you are on a powerful river that can pull you out of the boat or flip you at any time, you on are an adventure! Coming straight into that whitewater with it splashing over the raft and throwing you around really gets your adrenaline going! Just like any good adventure I pushed my limits and came out stronger. On this adventure I also had the benefit of being with friends and sharing something like this creates a bond. I am not a good swimmer so the fear of drowning kept me from experiencing this adventure, but I pushed past it and had a great time. My confidence in what I could do also grew.
I came back from that trip pumped up! I was pumped up for life, for adventure, for everything. I knew I had crossed a boundary and would not go back to a boring, routine day to day life. I was wrong. I was soon stuck back in my old routine going to a job I did not like each day and living for the weekend. It kept me from giving my best to my wife or kids. I was stagnant. I was stuck and hoping for some way out, but not doing anything about it myself. Finally a few years later, I had another adventure that I really loved.
I had always wanted to go on a cool hiking trip and always told my wife I was going to. I never did and used the excuse that none of my friends were into that kind of thing. Really, if I wanted to do it I could have at any time, but I just chose to live in fear and stay in my comfortable, if unfulfilling life. I finally talked my dad and a friend into going on a camping/hiking trip. We went to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and parked our car. From there the adventure began.
We hiked 8-10 miles each day for four days. Each night we made camp at a different spot along the lakeshore. These were not campsites with electricity or outhouses. This was roughing it! In between our hikes along the beaten path we ventured off and hiked many miles up and down slopes, along the beach, and through thick woods. On one of our little off the beaten path hikes, we hiked/slid down a loose shale hill to a rock outcropping looking over Lake Superior! It was risky, but allowed us to get pictures and see things that we would not have been able to experience if we had stayed on the beaten path.
On our last night we made camp and it happens that a couple that was also hiking had made camp not far from us. We all shared the fire that night and got to talk a little bit. They were a young couple in college and were excited for life, like so many of us are before we let the day to day stresses beat us down. Anyway, they were both adventurers. They regularly hiked and they were also kayaking guides in the Upper Peninsula. In the winter they worked as ski instructors. In short, they were living an adventurous life.
It was nice to hear of others living a life of adventure, especially as we were on an adventure of our own. That night my friend shared with the group his dream that he had always wanted to pursue. He wanted to specialize in making food that was light and easy to carry for hikers, kayakers, or adventurers. His goal was to make the food functional, but also tasty. He made a sample of it for all of us that night. We were all impressed and the couple said if he got his business off the ground they would push for his food to be used on their kayaking trips.
Everything seemed exciting and we were all pumped up. Unfortunately once again after we got back home the excitement wore off and we went back to living the routine. My friend let life and obstacles stop him from following his dream and instead started working more hours at a job he did not like. He settled, just like I did. I did not keep pushing myself and living adventurously. I chose comfort and ease over happiness and fulfillment.
I chose that path until I chose to leave my job and start my own business. It was not all in one day and it was a lot of small steps that I took before quitting my job. This is when I was alive! Each day brought something new and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was doing more than I thought I could and I was a better person. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I even got stagnant in my own business.
I still did my best for my customers, but I stopped trying to grow my business and grow as a person. The reason why, is that I knew by then I was supposed to be working toward my big dream that I had always kept in the back of my mind. I knew I could and I knew I should, but I let fear, complacency, and self-doubt keep me from doing it.
I am finally back on path. Am I where I want to be? No. Have I accomplished all of my goals? No. Have I gotten my dream business running? No, but I have started it and every day I try to do something for it. I try to push myself to learn or to do something new. I am not there, but I will get there.
I now know that not only do I need to make sure I experience adventures in life, I need to be consistent in pursuing those adventures. Those adventures keep me growing. They push me and add excitement and fulfillment to my life. I know that each adventure is a small step of growth in my life and if I keep the attitude to push for what I want I will accomplish my goals and dreams. I hope you do the same!