By Peggy Morehouse
A frightening topic Matthew Walker addresses in his book, Adventure in Everything, is low endeavor living. It involves things like staying with an unsatisfying job and mindless Internet surfing; activities that are easy, risk-free, and non-stimulating. Basically, plodding through life without direction until we realize it’s almost over. Walker states, “The most that many of us can wish for is to move through the tedium of our day and then spend the evening fantasizing about a more exciting world we don’t expect to ever know.” Walker supports his statement by referencing an article by Jeannine Aversa in The Seattle Times, “Only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their work.”
And Bronnie Ware, an Australian palliative care nurse and author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing, revealed that the number one regret of dying patients was letting dreams go unfulfilled.
A sad revelation as far as I’m concerned. Why aren’t more people abandoning low endeavor living for its opposite, high endeavor living? Walker describes a purposeful existence as setting “a goal that’s worthy of our energy, love, and passion.” It sounds wonderful, even romantic. Who wouldn’t trade a Netflix binge in for energy, love, and passion? Matt blames fear, and if fear doesn’t stop us, concern about everything that’s projected onto us by others when embarking on a change might. As he states, “We become afraid of what other people might say behind our backs if we leave our cushy job at a law firm to write articles about fishing.”
The bottom line is, it’s not that simple to step out of a monotonous life and into an exciting new one. Fortunately there’s something between the beginning and the end. It’s called the journey and that’s where all the juicy stuff happens. As Steve Jobs said:
What are some steps Walker suggests to ignite an adventurous journey:
- A high endeavor pursuit will cause a fundamental shift in your life…give yourself permission to find this shift.
- Select your high endeavor using this formula: activity you enjoy + activity you enjoy + activity you enjoy = high endeavor. For me: writing fiction + spending time in nature + socializing = A writers camp at Esalen, Big Sur, California next summer. Yup! My sense of passion is stoked when I think about that.
- If you want to pursue a high endeavor, but aren’t sure what it is, call on your imagination. Bring your journal to a place of inspirational beauty. Write about whatever you want for 15 minutes. Stop to re-acquaint yourself with your surroundings then write for another 15 minutes (stream-of-consciousness writing is addressed in the Introduction of Adventure in Everything). Whether it’s the first time or tenth time you do this, inspirational ideas will eventually emerge.
- Begin with the possible – Let’s say I don’t have the money to fly out to California for a writing camp at Esalen next summer (Darn!). Do I go on that Netflix binge instead? Or, do I look for a writing camp in a natural environment that’s within driving distance? I think you know the answer to that question (although there is a place for a Netflix binge during summer vacation).
- Perceived Risk/Actual Risk – This addresses that pesky fear issue. You’ve figured out what your high endeavor is, but you freeze when you’re about to delve in. For example, let’s say I saved enough money to go to that writers’ camp in Big Sur. I’m about to register and book a flight. A fright attack stops me. What if I get there and don’t connect with anyone? What if it rains the entire time? What if there’s an earthquake? What if I have writer’s block? What if I write terribly and embarrass myself during sharing time? What if I break my leg right before the trip? Spending my entire summer on a Netflix binge is sounding better and better. At this point I need to make my perceived risk/actual risk list. As any logical person can decipher, most of the fears that stopped me from taking my high endeavor adventure are unlikely, although possible. Certainly denying myself an adventure is far more risky. If I let fear win, I may just start answering my phone like this:
Other avenues Walker discusses to help us find our high endeavor adventure include: writing a short autobiography; creating a list of values that you may aspire to embody in any activity or task that you participate in; writing another autobiography as if you’d lived to be 80 or 90 years old (I’m definitely doing this assignment); tell at least one person about your adventure; and writing a letter of commitment to yourself.
Yes. There is quite a bit of valuable information packed into chapter one, High Endeavor. Once you select your high endeavor, it’s time to move onto element two: Uncertain Outcome, which we’ll discuss here next Sunday.
Do you have an idea of what your high endeavor is? Some of you have already shared this, but if you haven’t we’d love to hear about it in the comment section.