By Peggy Morehouse
I have an excellent job working as a speech-language pathologist for a school district. It’s important work, I enjoy my students, have great colleagues, and it offers wonderful benefits. I’m aware that many people can’t make that statement and am genuinely grateful that I can. A problem occurred a few years ago, however. You see, I’ve been earning my living in this profession for a long time and I was bored. I don’t like being bored. Bored looks like this:
I didn’t want to go to work everyday looking like a bear who missed hibernation, and it certainly wasn’t fair to my school district.
What to do?
Quit my job and become a full-time novelist? At the time I was making about fifty dollars a month as a writer. I do like food, shelter, and an occasional glass of wine so that was out.
I could look for another job, but there was so much good about my position. Even the sluggish bear in me knew that it would be really hard to find something better, and regret might be worse than boredom.
I could traipse through my workdays with as much enthusiasm as possible and look forward to exciting weekends and vacation activities. I could tell a lot of people had chosen this option when they became dissatisfied with their jobs by the expressions they wore while waiting for an energizing morning cup of coffee.
Or…I could go to my supervisor and propose a change within my job. A change that would benefit the district, students, and teachers. A change that I found stimulating. And that’s exactly what I did. I’m not going into the details now, but you’ll learn more as we discuss Adventure in Everything by Matthew Walker over the next five Sundays. The bottom line is my proposal was accepted and my vocation became invigorating once again. As I read Adventure in Everything, I realized that my new project had all five elements of adventure that Matt discussed in his book. They are:
- A High Endeavor
- Uncertain Outcome
- Making a Total Commitment
- Tolerance for Adversity
- Great Companionship
Over the next few weeks you’ll have the opportunity to embark on an adventure you’ve only dreamed about as we read Adventure in Everything. It can be new hobby, a class you’d like to take, an outdoor expedition, a story you’d like to write, even a new relationship you may be considering. Anything that excites you. We’ll go over the Five Elements right here and help you get started.
Now I’m going to let the adventure expert himself take over. Matthew Walker was kind enough to answer a few questions about beginning an adventure for The Writers’ Loop. First, a bit about Matt:
Matthew Walker stands for adventure – adventure in everything (and anything) in your life. Matt is more than a world-class mountain climber and psychologist; his real world experience, systems awareness, and deep understanding of the human experience make him a sought after coach, speaker, and professional facilitator. His Tucson based company, Inner Passage, facilitates once-in-a-lifetime adventures, coaches individuals to reach their personal and professional goals, and offers team development workshops. He is author of the book, Adventure in Everything, published by Hay House.
According to Matt, “Embracing life as an adventure is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. When we embrace life as an adventure, we tap into a deep source of energy, love, creativity, and generosity. And while on an expedition all sorts of crazy things can happen, but how we respond to those challenges and successes, how we engage with our partners and teammates, and how we take care of our personal and physical health all impact the shape of the journey. I believe this perspective also allows for a significant amount of grace in our lives, for forgiveness and for failure. We can experience negative and challenging moments, but build from them with awareness as we continue on the expedition.”
Question: How did you come up with the idea for Adventure in Everything and the Five Elements of adventure?
Matt: “It started on Mt. McKinley in Alaska, the highest peak in North America. While on an expedition to the summit, which takes about 25 days, I was cold and miserable, and scared as hell – the clients even more so. But we were all also incredibly alive – infused with the vitality and a strong sense of purpose, highly aware of the consequences of our actions, undeniably a critical member of a team, and filled with accomplishment at even the small, daily progress we made ascending the mountain. I spent a lot of time thinking, what is the best way to take the lessons learned from here and apply them to our everyday lives?
I returned home from this expedition with fire inside me and spent the next couple of years interviewing others, discussing the qualities that make up the best adventures, and researching best practices to create and maintain an authentic presence. I decided along the way that I needed to deepen my own understanding of the human experience and went to graduate school for a Master’s in behavioral science. Combined, these experiences all led to the creation of the Five Elements and Adventure in Everything.”
Question: Many people dream of beginning an adventure but something stops them. What do you think that “something” is? How can they get past it?
Matt: “I think the largest impediment is that the goal feels too big and overwhelming at the beginning. It is incredibly difficult to imagine climbing Mt. Everest when standing in the valley below. Yet, from Base Camp you set off for the first camp and use the skills and tools you have honed in other mountain ranges. It becomes another mountain; familiar. The same thing happens to us in other arenas of our lives. The goal is difficult to comprehend from a distance, but up close it gains clarity as a series of steps.”
Question: What are some of the fears you experienced when beginning your adventure either with mountaineering, starting Inner Passages, or graduate school?
Matt: “The same self-doubts everyone experiences: am I good enough? Can I do this? What if I can’t meet the expectations I have for myself or others have of me? Other people with more skill and knowledge succeed at this, but not me…the narrative goes on and on. I have found the best way to handle the fear and self-doubt is to parse out the experience into manageable and measurable parts. Doing this gives me a sense of growth and success – literally a day at a time.”
Question: Is failure to be expected? Is there a time to persevere and a time to quit?
Matt: “Failure in the traditional sense is certainly a possible, and frequent, outcome. Adventure is not synonymous with the summit. Adventure is an opportunity to live life in a space of full commitment with our core values engaged. The outcome is unknown and the rewards unexpected.”
Question: How important is journaling when embarking on an adventure?
Matt: “I find journaling an amazingly helpful and underrated tool. Journaling allows for a slow and paced interaction with your thoughts and feelings. It’s an opportunity to “dump” the narrative out of your head and onto paper thereby freeing up the anxiety, doubt, and problem solving our minds are accustomed to and gives us space to clarify and move towards peace and balance. Plus, it’s simple and free.”
Question: Any additional advice for people as they begin?
Matt: “I recommend starting locally with close friends or family. Note the opportunities nearby that you are curious about or intrigue you. Start small, start locally, and engage with friends. I would also highly recommend going “offline” for the day. Make being unplugged is part of the experience and allow yourself to be present to the experience without distraction or influence from others.”
Thanks Matthew Walker!
Please share a little about an “adventure” you’re considering with us in the comment section.
Next Sunday, September 21, we’ll explore the five elements of adventure.