Become the Hero in your story: How to cultivate a sense of adventure for the new decade
We all remember reading stories or watching our favourite TV shows when we were kids; the hero is exciting, always kills the dragon, has amazing adventures and comes out on top. It’s the archetype to aspire to. We grow up and, for most of us, the hero remains in our imaginations, like a dream half-remembered. Once the world of work, family and responsibilities take over, we forget about those archetypal aspirations. And in doing so, our lives become a little less exciting, less colourful, more ordinary. Of course, we are not all destined to be out in the world ‘killing dragons’. We’re not all going to be famous, despite what social media tells us. But it is possible to make our ‘ordinary’ lives extraordinary; to become the heroes in our own small stories, for ourselves and those around us.
The start of a new decade is an exciting time. It’s a chance to reflect back on the last ten years of life and see what went well – and what needs to change so we can create more success and fulfilment going forward.
What looks like adventure when we’re in our 20’s will probably be significantly different by the time we hit 60. But, to shake up your world a little and bring in more sparkle can be done at any age. So how do you set out on the heroic journey and cultivate a daily sense of adventure?
Assess how your life is right now. Is it boring or too busy? Full of fun or monotonous and repetitive? Is it predictable with routines running the show? Human beings are usually creatures of habit and our routines provide comfort that it’s hard to step away from. You’ve all heard it – ‘step out of your comfort zone’ – but to actually do that, even in a small way takes courage. You may feel trapped but taking the risk of pursuing that big adventure – travelling, setting up a business, making a commitment - can be a truly scary thing. That fear can only be overcome by stepping out and giving it a go. When taking a new path, I always ask the people I coach to imagine leaving their fear in a box by their front door as they go out. It can stay there and wait for you – if you want to pick it up again when you get back, you can. (But I don’t think you will!)
Be curious – about everything. In discovering new things you’ll find out new things about yourself. If you’ve spent any time around young kids, you’ll know their hunger for knowledge and understanding is unquenchable. Follow their example and it will help you create new ideas and interests you’d never even considered before. That can then lead you down roads you never imagined taking.
Make space, mentally and maybe even physically. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with routine chores, take a look at what you can remove. It’s sometimes easier to fill our time with those mundane routines than it is to really go after what would stretch us. If chores can’t be eliminated, look for more efficient ways of doing them, and don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. That will give you more time for other pursuits. Clear out your clutter, and spring clean. Our physical reality often matches our interior one. By giving yourself a brighter, clearer space on the outside, you will actually create more mental and emotional space within you. More room to think and reflect on how you really want to spend your time.
Do one new thing every day or week. Set this challenge for a couple of months. They don’t have to be major things; it could be as simple as trying a food you’ve never eaten before or exploring a place you’ve never visited. Even small changes can bring a sense of freshness and excitement that you’d forgotten.
Change your routine and shake things up. Start your day differently. Step away from the TV and go outside – take a walk, visit the bookstore or a museum. Meet a friend face to face instead of messaging on your phone. Plan a day trip, a weekend away or an around the world ticket.
Find your vision. Write down your dreams and aspirations, think about what adventure means to you – make a list. Explore what steps you can take right now to start moving in that direction. Then take action! Baby steps are fine, just make a commitment to yourself to do a step every day/week/month and you’ll quickly find your way to where you really want to be.
An exciting life won’t just fall into your lap one day. It’s up to you to change your perspective slightly and open up to new experiences. But in doing so you’ll gain so much – you’ll overcome fears, think more creatively, build new skills and make new friends. All of this leads to increased self-knowledge about what really makes you happy and gives you the confidence to pursue your goals.
And to finish, here's a couple of great quotes that are worth remembering as you set out on your journey:
“My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it.” Jon Krakauer
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” Jawaharlal Nehru