Not too long ago the thought of quitting my job of 12 years, selling everything I owned, and heading overseas for a complete lifestyle change would not have been possible in my mind. There was no way I could make any radical change in my life like that.
I'm just regular, ordinary me. I like the routines and comfort of a planned life. Then in the short space of 2 weeks upon returning from New Zealand in February 2017, I changed every future plan I ever had.
Coming home from the trip in February, the idea really took off just as I was landing. As the landing gear touched the runway with that short, familiar screech, I knew what I wanted right then.
I realised I had a choice.
How often do we make the choices we really want? I’m not talking about what pizza or new shoes to get. I'm talking about those hard choices. The ones that are scary and throw us right out of our comfort zones. They usually start with ‘I always wanted to’... and then trail off. Or even better, we have reasons why they don’t work.
I certainly had them, and still do!
But with one choice we can change everything. Our entire lives can change with one decision. So I made my choice that changed my life.
Tired of amassing possessions I didn’t need and longing for the outdoors on a full time basis, I came up with a simple solution that took my entire willpower reserves to make happen.
Buy a van, live in it, and get outside everyday doing what I love. My first mini retirement to do what I loved and pursue my passion.
The van idea didn't go on forever, but I knew that to be outside and somewhere I loved would be my dream. So New Zealand, a place with unimaginable beauty and adventure, is the place I want to be.
Maybe our dreams are just goals waiting to be fulfilled?
Starting as a group of friends many years ago, my group ‘Vertical Adventurers’ was a place where we all grew our outdoor skills together. And boy did we have some adventures!
I thought it fitting after we had learnt so much, to continue the theme of getting out of your comfort zone and outdoor adventures, and to use it for my own website, “The Vertical Adventurer’. I want to inspire and motivate people to get outside.
Our environment is almost gone. I believe that when people get outside, they form connections. Memories. And they are happy. Predicted as the biggest change in our century, people reconnecting with nature will hopefully help people start caring for the world around them again. After all, this planet IS our home.
But there's also another reason I have the website.
It's about accountability.
Personally, I find it intimidating to tell the world what my goals are. You lay it out there, all those raw emotions which comprise your dreams. You can get judged or ridiculed. Neither of which are pleasant.
What if it doesn’t work? What if I can’t do it? It’s all out there, and everyone knows it.
But then I remember this short story, the origin I don’t know where from, and for some reason it always stuck with me.
And it goes like this:
Imagine the scene if you will, a man standing in one of those old outhouse toilets, the ones impossibly far away from the main house, especially at night. And he’s about to do what a man sometimes has to do. He’s gazing down into the murky mysterious waters about to begin, when suddenly, he notices something bright down there, shining up at him.
It’s glittering, sparkling, and brilliant. It’s a gold coin!
His reaction is immediate and human. A voice in his head says, “That could be mine,” and he begins to roll up his shirtsleeve. But suddenly he stops.
And the voice says, “But is it worth it?”
He considers a moment or two, contemplating what to do. And then he has a brilliant idea. He puts his hand in his pocket. Takes out another bright, shiny, sparkling gold coin. Looks at it for a moment or two. And then throws it down into the murky depths so it’s resting next to the other one. Then he rolls up his sleeve with purpose.
And he says, “Now it’s worth it!”
Toilet stories aside, I realised that to make something happen, you have to have accountability, and that can come from letting people know what you plan to do. We are often too scared to do this because it means we have to take action, so it's easier just to say nothing, which leads to doing nothing.
So I'm dropping a coin down a metaphorical toilet, rolling up my sleeve, and diving in.