Archive for December 26th, 2010

26th December
written by Randy

How do you have an amazing year? What do I do to make each year unbelievable and memorable, worth thinking about and talking about? The key to my happiness in life, and why my years are so memorable is that I make them that way. I choose it.

And the point of this web site is to share that with you. Not only do I want to share my adventures with you, but I also want to help you to plan your own adventures, and to complete your own yearly challenges, so that you can have an amazing year, every year, as I do!

Pushing boundaries

The most important ingredient in my happiness is pushing boundaries. Whatever is intimidating, scary, or seemingly difficult, that’s what I do. Doing things you already know doesn’t help you to grow. You only grow when you do things you don’t already know, or haven’t already done.

I believe that you have to step to the edge of your comfort, and willingly cross that line. You have to face your fears, and conquer them. If you’re afraid of heights, you have to go bungee jumping. Or skydiving. After that, looking down from the top of a ladder is nothing.

When I had never been out of the country, I planned a trip and left. When I had never seen the whole United States, I set out to visit every state. I’ve spent years without a television. When everyone uses a car, I got rid of mine. When everyone is dependent on the security of their cell phones and alarm clocks, I ditched mine. I even spent one full year without owning a bed. Pushing those boundaries has helped me to grow, by showing me possibilities outside of the things I had previously taken for granted.

Becoming a “yes” man

Pushing boundaries starts with the simple act of changing your “no” to a “yes”. We go through our lives casually saying “no” to things we don’t know, don’t understand, or haven’t experienced… especially when we fear those things.

It’s easy to say no to skydiving, or bungee jumping, because no one is going to judge you for having a fear of those things. And it’s easy to say no to trying some strange food from a foreign place, because people generally don’t judge you for thinking it’s weird, or looks gross.

But at the end of the year, are you going to reflect fondly on how consistently you’ve chosen the “safe” meal? Will you beam with pride as you tell the story of refusing a chance to free fall from 160-feet? Does anyone ever look back on their year and tell people how happy it made them to say no to an amazing adventure?

When my friend asked me to meet in Barcelona, my reflexive action was to think about work, and money, and say “no, I can’t”. But instead of doing that, I asked myself if there was really any reason why I couldn’t do it, and there was none. So I went, and I had a great time. And when my friend asked me to go cha-cha dancing, my instinct was to spare myself the embarassment of being a bad dancer, but instead of doing that, I considered that I’ll always be a bad dancer if I don’t start doing it, so I went and learned and had an amazing time.

If you want to have an amazing year, you have to learn to say yes to doing crazy things.

The power of one year

Often, when a thing is particularly difficult, or requires a lot of practice or training or investment of time, there is a tendency to keep putting it off until later, thinking the difference in time is insignificant on the long timeline of life. But things can only happen now or later, right? You can’t decide now to make things happen before now.

So your choice is either now or later. But even though the present is always “now”, it’s always moving! With every second that passes, now gets later and later. And if now is later, then later might as well be never! So what you thought was now or later, is really now or never.

A year gives you a boundary. It’s a long time — long enough to do a lot of things — but it’s also limited; it’s short. Giving youself a year means you have to start now, and you have to make steady progress. It means taking your goal seriously, rather than putting it off endlessly.

If that sounds like a bit of pressure, it is. It’s natural to want to say no, to back out of things, and to avoid risks. But when you get over that inclination and finally take your first step toward meeting your goal, you give yourself one of the best feelings a human can experience — the feeling of accomplishment.

And the sense of accomplishment after you complete your goal is even better. It will give you wonderfully interesting things to talk about with everyone you know. It will make you an inspiration to the people you meet. And it will win you respect from people, especially the one person whose respect you need most: yourself.

The yearly challenge is about setting those big goals, and then completing them. The new year is almost here, so how will you make 2011 amazing? What are you going to do? What personal boundaries are you going to push? What are you going to say yes to? What big thing are you finally going to accomplish in the coming year? Leave me some comments and let me know!

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