Recently several people asked me why I enjoy my outdoor adventures so much. More specifically as my mother might ask me -- how can someone who is afraid of heights, has an anxiety/panic disorder, and doesn't like to get injured do such outlandish things? The outlandish things (to her) are hiking up sheer mountain faces (the kind with metal chains you use to get over the nearly impossible sections), whitewater rafting, cycling on a road bike, and paddling my kayak, to name a few.
While I am no extreme adventure sportswoman by a long shot, I do enjoy pushing myself beyond my previous personal best. I also love the blessing of spending time in some of the more beautiful natural spaces on this planet.
So what's the appeal of these more aggressive type pursuits? It's all about focus. I love the way everything else just slips away when you're a thousand feet up navigating the next set of slick rock. There's just no way you can divert your attention from the here and now because if you do, it may be the last thing you do. It is the ultimate "in the now" experience with complete devotion to the next step and the ultimate goal (the top of the mountain, end of the trail, etc.).
What I've found is that a whole new level of what is possible emerges and you just move onward and upward regardless of how difficult a part of the journey is or how fearful you get along the way. I know firsthand what it is like to move through serious fear as I did on the cliff face of the Beehive (a challenging trail in Acadia National Park). As I stood about 400 feet up the trail on a foot and a half wide path facing the next set of "iron rungs on ledges" to hoist myself vertically I suddenly got scared to death. Well options were limited since there was no way to go back down the way I had come. So it was either keep moving forward, plan on living out my days in that 2 foot space (not an option), or jump off the cliff (even less of an option). Amazing what a little clarity and direction can do to get a person unstuck & moving forward! So I got in touch with that part of me that is fearless (we all have it) and trudged on. Needless to say I got to the summit and as bizarre as it seems, I would consider doing it again (or the even harder Precipice Trail).
How is Your Focus?
You might not want to climb a steep mountain or raft down Class III rapids, but what would be your greatest adventure? What would you like to look back on with satisfaction and pride at having achieved what you set out to do? This could be in your personal life or your business. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be impressive when compared with anyone's achievements. That is the trap of comparison we often fall into which is a self-defeating cycle. Remember that the only valid measurement is to compare your efforts against your own personal best and to do it with compassion.
Once you've answered the two questions above, it is time to put one foot in front of the other and get started on the trail. To do that:
List the top 5 things you could do this month to create some time and space to focus specifically and completely on your goal. A regular, modest amount of time spent completely focused and engaged on the task at hand will yield infinitely more results than the scattered and piecemeal approach we often take in our frantic lives.
Get started with one small step each day no matter how small it may seem. It can be a specific action, some planning, or research. The key is just to get moving since even a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
Unlike on the hiking trail, in day to day living, you won't be focusing on your specific goal to the exclusion of the rest of your life (and you wouldn't want to be). However, you do need to have enough focus time to build the momentum needed to reach the summit. So, take some time to answer the questions above so you can reach the trailhead with a plan all ready to go and make the most of your efforts.