Countdown to 2015 – 1 – Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers!

It’s the final countdown or rather the final blog in this series of personal development practices for an inspired and adventurous 2015. Thank you for following along and I hope it has been a fun and interesting mini-journey.

Here is where we’ve been:

10 – Setting Intentions

9 – Expressing Gratitude

8 – Wandering in Nature

7 – Playing with our Passions

6 – Letting to go Excuses

5 – Law of Attraction and Ritual

4 – Self Care

3 – Finding your People

2 – Into the Depths of Our Unconscious

drumroll for number 1….

Well, it has to be adventure of course…getting out of our comfort zone and diving into the unknowns.

If you’ve been following along, you are likely aware that I have my own little adventure going in the form of a kickstarter campaign called: Let’s Go on an Adventure!

It is a two-part project that includes writing and publishing a book telling the story of my transformative adventure and also an interactive guidebook with practices and exercises such as those presented in these blogs that are intended to help someone on their own personal journey of self-discovery or change.

Tomorrow is the last day of my campaign where I will either be fully funded or go back to the drawing board. Whatever happens, I’m humbled by the support and grateful for the opportunity and courage to put myself out there and be vulnerable. It’s been challenging for me. Thank you and if you are so inspired, please check out the campaign.

So adventure…why am I so addicted to it and why do I think it is so important?

Well nature and adventure have been the two most significant transformation tools in my life in the way they challenge me, teach me and inspire me.

One of the most defining characteristics of adventure, in my opinion, is that it involves unknowns….maybe surprises, an element of spontaneity, a willingness to explore and get out of your comfort zone and away from what is familiar.

I think it is important to get out of our comfort zones because that is where the growth happens. Our brains strain to keep us safe and protected and do so by clinging to what is familiar and efficient, while our souls long to explore and discover and learn and grow.

Maybe I am suggesting that we trick our brains into seeing change and growth as an adventure, so that we acknowledge the unknowns and we get excited about them instead of triggering fear responses.

They have a lot in common actually ‘adventure’ and ‘change’….unknowns, a goal, no guaranteed outcome, tools/practices that can help, something to be learned; a physical, mental, emotional and often spiritual element. And yet even just focusing on each of those words seems to bring up different feelings, emotions and thoughts.

Adventure is often treated like a choice and like a luxury for those who have the courage and resources, whereas change is inevitable, hard and sometimes even dreaded. “Change” often gets a bad rap and yet changes are happening all the time; it is one of the guarantees, the truths of life.

So what if we approach our life changes, goals and intentions like adventures? I believe it can shift our perspective and ultimately influence the outcome.

When something is an adventure, we often look for ways through…ways around obstacles, people to help.

We dream big and we share our experience with others.

We tend to focus on the positive, the new and the exciting with childlike wonder.

We tend to assume that it’ll be a success and that even if we don’t know the outcome, it will be fun and we may learn something along the way.

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

So what would it look like if we treated changes in our lives as adventures? How would our approach evolve if we set intentions for where we want to go with our lives with curiosity, excitement and determination?

When I decided that I was going to head off to Argentina to do some wandering, I started with practicing a bit close to home. I started going to movies, cafes, restaurants, and bars by myself. I had earned a short sabbatical at work and used it to take myself on a road trip in my home state of Colorado. I traveled to Costa Rica by myself for a week. I went on a vision quest in the mountains of Colorado. I started trying new things that I had never done before.

By going into the unknowns, especially when going alone, you are automatically rewarded with the opportunity to learn about yourself. What turns you on? What turns you off? Where are your limits? What are your fears? How will you face your fears? Just how resourceful are you? How do you handle challenges? Are you curious? What thoughts or questions are sparked? What surprises you?

Being surrounded by unknowns heightens your focus on what makes you, you. When things are unfamiliar, they draw your attention and maybe beckon a new approach or response or perspective and so there is this expansive, growth quality inherent in going into the great unknown.

I acknowledge that certain fears are rational and are there to keep us alive. I get it. That’s pretty important. I’d dare to say that most of our fears are irrational though and it is incredibly freeing when we can dig into them, understand them and set them free.

We can do this by choosing differently….by saying, “Hey there fear, I see you and I raise you some courage and a new perspective. I’m going to befriend you and we’re going to do great things together…but I’m in charge.”

We can do this by asking what the fear is really about. Where did it originate? What triggers it? What are the emotions and feelings behind it? Where/when else have I experienced those feelings being triggered? What is my process for attending to those feelings? What do I notice about my energy when confronted with one of my fears? How are my fears taking away my power? How are they helping me and how are they keeping me small? What is my fear response? Does it influence the source of the fear when this response is activated? What are some other responses I could have instead?

To be clear, I am not suggesting repressing fears, pushing them aside and pretending they don’t exist. Yikes, no. They are there as tools to tease us and maybe even torment us, but then to teach us. Often our fears and our shadows hold the keys to our greatest desires and our greatest gifts. When we get to the other side of them it is absolutely glorious.

The more I spend time confronting fears and the more I spend time trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone, the more I enjoy life. Truth.

I learn, I grow, the new experiences beget still newer ones…new connections and relationships, opportunities, lessons, insights, growth, transformation, fun and adventures.

It’s like the universe is there to reward the brave and courageous and when that becomes you, you feel like, whoa….that’s cool, now I have more energy and space for being alive.

“Be alive your whole life.” ~ Bumper sticker anonymous

…and let’s make it an adventurous one, yeah? Who’s with me?

Thanks again for coming along for this ride. Now go do something new today.

Countdown to 2015 – 6 – Excuses be damned!

The countdown to 2015 continues. For our next trick, let’s send our excuses straight to the place where the sun don’t shine. So by now we’ve started thinking about our intentions for what we want 2015 to look like, answering questions and dreaming big. We’ve focused on gratitude, acknowledging how important it is to recognize what we do have. We took all of these thoughts and good energy for a wander in nature and then we took our passions out to play.

It’s not necessarily a linear process, but all things that we can take together to shake it up and get ready for a new year. Do you notice that contemplating our passions often tends to coincide with excuses and obstacles for why we can’t pursue them?

“I would if I could…”

“I’d love to, if only…”

“I don’t know how…”

“I’ll do it when…”

“…but…”

I’m the most guilty of saying, “Well I would, but I don’t have the money now.” Until one day it occurred to me that I didn’t even know how much money it would take to do the thing I was saying I couldn’t afford.

Maybe it is true that I didn’t have the money in that moment and I could choose to give up there and stay stuck. Instead, I now scribble that information onto the “Known” list. I take a look at what else I know to be true and then I start to figure out all of the unknowns. In this example, how much money would it take to do x?

I think there is a lot of information hidden in our excuses. We may even believe they are logical ‘reasons’.

They often point to where we feel scarcity in our lives…

Not having enough money

Not knowing what it is we want to do

Not having the resources, knowledge…and you knew this was coming…not having the time.

“I don’t have time is the grown up version of the dog ate my homework.” ~ Unknown

or they point to where we feel responsibility in our lives…

I have a mortgage.

I have a job, benefits, tenure, etc.

I have debt.

I have kids, family and relationships to tend to.

Responsibilities are legitimate things, absolutely. They also point to the outcomes of previous decisions we’ve made in our lives, again giving us information about our values, desires, habits, choices, resources and circumstances.

How you spend your time, money and energy is indicative of both your priorities and your responsibilities.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves happy, the amount work is the same.” ~ Carlos Castaneda

What comes next is a lot of good news for you if you’re willing to get into a staring contest with your excuses.

If you want something, it is almost always possible and doable. This has been a huge lesson for me the last two years and then I’ve had it demonstrated to me over and over again.

You just need to decide how much you want it, get curious and prioritize accordingly.

“Forget all of the reasons it won’t work and believe the one reason it will.” ~ Unknown

“yeah, but…”

shhhhh…

“no really though…”

zip it. 

It doesn’t mean you will not have to take risks or give things up or make changes…all challenging things to do and ultimately all reasons why it can be more comfortable to blame the excuse rather than do something about it. AND…it’s all worth it to go after what you really want in life.

Here is the challenge and the opportunity to get your head and your heart working together instead of playing tug-o-war…

Excuses be damned. If you could do anything in the world with your life, what would you most want to do, as you see it now?

Whatever your answer, do you really mean it?

What is stopping you? (If nothing, than awesome. Share your experience in the comments!)

What do you know to be true? What are the unknowns?

Are you going after it? What are you discovering?

Are you not going after it? Why not? What’s in your way?

What’s really in your way?

How could you approach it differently?

What have you tried to do about it and what happened?

Now what?

What is a different way to look at it? This is an invitation to get creative and unconventional. Find out what it would actually take and then start figuring out the path to get there…knowing the path is sometimes a puzzle and sometimes a paved highway.

I have met parents with kids who are traveling and living in other parts of the world.

I have met artists who are using their final pennies to pursue their craft while waiting to get into school…and opportunities are showing up.

I have met dreamers with ideas who are engaging in entrepreneurial pursuits on the side of their jobs until they can make the transition.

I have met healers who are trading their talents in exchange for services when money is not yet there.

I have met adventurers and I myself have invited in and accepted the generosity of others knowing full well that we will give it back tenfold when we are able.

This is intended as an invitation. This is meant to be exciting and freeing.

“If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” ~ Unknown

It took two years from the time I had the inkling to follow a dream and the time I worked my way through shifting priorities and refocusing the circumstances from past decisions. For me this meant deciding to sell my house and my car in order to free myself of attachments and financial responsibilities before coming to Argentina.

I did it. It worked. It’s a practice…this whole “excuses be damned!” thing and I continue to be dedicated to it. I’m hoping to help inspire others to do the same through the book and interactive guidebook I am now writing.

If you like what you’re reading, please consider backing my kickstarter campaign for this project called, “Let’s Go on an Adventure!”. Also please share my campaign with others who might be inspired.

I have 6 days left in my campaign when I will get all funding if I reach my goal and nothing if I don’t. Any donation helps!

This is number 6 in a series of 10 personal development blogs counting down to 2015, in hopes of inspiring an adventurous, fulfilling year ahead. Follow this blog to receive the others in this series and check out more of my story at erinkmac.com.

Thank you for tuning in!