Living safe isn’t living. I’m one of those people that’s always restless. I never want to be content. I have a great life filled with loving friends, family, plenty of enjoyment, a crazy puppy, a beautiful girlfriend, really I have nothing to complain about. But I always want more.
Not more stuff, but more out of life. Because being complacent is not an option for me. I love sweat pants, hot chocolate, and comfy chairs as much as anyone, but in an entirely different sense, I just dislike being comfortable. Pushing my own boundaries and reaching for new experiences is what drives me.
It’s why in the last 5 years I’ve lived in New Zealand, Los Angeles, Aspen, and Boston. It’s why I bought a one way ticket to Chile and didn’t shave for 4 months while volunteering my way north up the Pan-American. It’s why I climb mountains, make music, and get excited about business ideas and creative design.
I’ve always thought life should be more about the moments than the money. Memories mean more than market share. Granted, I do enjoy the world of marketing, advertising, and creative inspiring business ventures, but a great story isn’t written in a cubicle. And if you don’t have a story worth telling, you’re not living right.
So with all that in mind, I wanted to write of list of catalysts that have helped me step outside the confines of comfortable and really start living inspired. These are some traits that I believe have allowed me to embrace risk, and be passionately optimistic about pursuing the impossible.
1. BE BRIGHT
A lot of people live in the gray, inside and out. The just average ordinary world of not being different. They’re afraid of being on stage, going against the grain, or just being noticed. It took me some time to be comfortable with this myself, but I’ll tell you I’m a lot happier for it now. I’m always positive, energetic, and smiling. Even on the phone, I smile, because people can tell.
Say hi to passerbys on the street. It’s much easier, and feels much better, to nod hello than do the ‘we’ve been walking toward each other for about a minute but I’m going to awkwardly avoid looking in you in eye’ thing. I wear bright colors. Purple shirts, striped bow-ties, red pants, neon sunglasses. Though not all at the same time.
After my older brother gave me the book Design Yourself by Karim Rashi, I’ve just embraced bold style. Don’t be afraid to enthusiastically stand out. Let a little color into your life. Be confident and express yourself, but don’t be an ass.
2. NO EXCUSES
Everyone always tells me they’re jealous of how often I travel. The truth is there’s no secret to it. You just have to do it. You have to stop making excuses for all the reasons you shouldn’t, or can’t, and start thinking of all the doors that may open if you do. Just go. Do. Make plans and stick to them.
If you want to go to Iceland, pick a long weekend and buy the ticket. Deal with the planning after you’ve already committed to the plan.
If you’re not on a mileage program, or don’t have an airline rewards credit card, get one. You’re spending money anyway, why not get it back in free flights? I check Kayak, SkyScanner, or Southwest and can find pretty great deals all the time. Like a round trip Boston to Alaska for $379. And then I’ll use Hotel Tonight, Airbnb, or CouchSurfing to find a cheap place to crash if I don’t know someone where I’m going.
So that’s travel, but even on the smallest scale, stop making excuses. I recall a night I wanted to go to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, but then I saw tickets had sold out online. I called the box office and they had a couple left. I’m about a 5 minute drive from the theater, but then my friend who was supposed to join me backed out. There I was sitting on the couch after a long day of work, thinking I could forget the hassle, just sit back and relax, pour a glass of whiskey, and watch House of Cards. That sounded nice.
But then I thought again, House of Cards will still be on Netflix tomorrow…the film festival is just tonight. So I motivated myself to get off my ass and get in the moment. I hurried over, bought a ticket, the festival was amazing, the films were inspiring, and I had a great night.
Don’t let even the smallest opportunities slip by because you made a lazy excuse.
3. BE INDEPENDENT
Learn how to depend on yourself. It’s liberating. Start small. Go to the movies by yourself. It’s only a frame of mind that separates being lonely from being alone. And when you’re alone, don’t look to your phone as a social crutch. Just be there.
Take a drive somewhere you’ve never been and don’t use a GPS. You’d be surprised how useful street signs are, and learning to navigate and hone your sense of direction is empowering.
Learn to cook. It’s easy to find a gourmet recipe, go buy the ingredients, and follow it step by step. Pinterest is the perfect place to start. You’ll make a delicious meal that you previously didn’t know how to make, and the more you do this the more you’ll start to understand and improvise.
Sit alone at the airport bar on your layover and talk to people around you instead of listening to your iPod. Having the confidence to be publicly social with strangers feels great and you’ll meet some incredibly interesting people. It’s all about who you know and you can’t make new connections with your ear buds in.
If you really want to test yourself, buy a ticket to somewhere you’ve never been, somewhere you don’t know anybody, and just go and figure it out. Whether it be a weekend, or a week, to Oregon or to France, this experience will dramatically improve your self-reliance and self-confidence.
4. PICK YOUR PRIORITIES
This is a little ambiguous because my priorities are all over the place too. I want to be a world class snowboard mountaineer, but I want to be a touring musician. I want to start a brewery, but I want to be a filmmaker. I want to rock climb all the time, but I want to get better at scuba diving and surfing. There’s just not enough time and not enough life to do it all, but I try.
When I say prioritize, I mean decide what sacrifices you’re willing to make to do the things you want to do. For me, it’s a lifestyle that allows me to do a little bit of all of the above. Personally I’d rather spend $20 on a night at the rock gym than at the bar.
It’s choosing your passion and personal development instead of what all your friends or co-workers are doing. What’s going to make you happiest in the long run?
Great entrepreneurs, athletes, and adventurers, they all make sacrifices. You know the phrase, “if it was easy everyone would do it.” Yes I do a lot of things, but I also work extremely hard day in and day out to keep achieving my goals on all fronts and keep pushing my personal and professional limits.
In my opinion, the work, gym, party, sleep routine is monotonous, unfulfilling, and only leads to waking up one day wishing you had done a thousand other things.
What sacrifices are you willing to make to build the life you want?
5. JUST SAY “FUCK IT” SOMETIMES
Doing so has led to some of the best stories and craziest moments in my life. I can’t think of a time when something incredible hasn’t resulted from saying these words and doing whatever nerve wracking thing I was hesitating to do.
I embrace the moments when the butterflies of anxiety and tickles of exhilaration are building in my chest, and every quivering nerve in my body has wanted to turn back. From reaching for a seemingly impossible dream like Between The Peaks, to stretching higher for the tiniest finger hold on a 200-foot rock wall. From sending myself off a 40-foot cliff on my snowboard to leaving my safe 9-5 to start Explore Inspired.
Just taking a breath and saying those words has always led me to incredible experiences. Those times when I’ve risked it all by just jumping in have changed the course of my life forever.
Have the courage to say the same and take a risk. You’ll be glad you did.