Posts Tagged ‘adventure’

2nd January
written by Randy

The very first thing on my list for 2011 is more travel. I had such an incredible time last year seeing all 48 of the continental United States. I came two states short of reaching my goal to visit all 50 (and I intend to finish up those last two this year!) but the experiences I had were really quite amazing.

I think travel provides me with the closest thing to a spiritual experience that I’ve personally ever known, and I plan to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

Now that I’ve seen the US, I want to see everything else… starting with Europe.

Saying you’ve visited a country can be sort of a cop-out. After all, I was in Germany on 4 separate occasions last year, but I never stepped outside of an aiport during any of those times. Sure, people spoke German, and I was in Germany, eating German food and spending euros… but it’s not the same. It doesn’t really count, does it?

Thus, I’ve decided to design this goal around visiting cities, rather than countries. There are a few things that make cities more a better goal for travel — or at least it’s better for my style of travel. Here are a few reasons:

You have to leave the airport to see the city! Sounds obvious, but how you frame an idea in your mind is important. Have I been in Germany? Yes. Have I seen Münich, Düsseldorf, or Frankfurt? No. You have to leave the airport to see the city.

Many countries have very different cultures in various regions. If the goal was to visit Germany, you could do the obvious thing and go to Berlin, but you would miss the lilt and personality of Köln, the Bavarian culture of Münich, etc. If the goal was to visit Spain, you could go to Barcelona, but you would miss everything that makes Madrid, Pamplona, and Valencia unique.

There are a lot of cities! If you were paying attention to the names in the previous paragraph, you noticed that there are a lot of things to see! France has Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille. Italy has Rome, Venice, Milan, Florence. Poland has Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw. And so on! There’s so much to see, why stop at just setting foot in the country?

So… my first goal for 2011 is to visit 20 European cities. It’s less than 50 states, but it’s much farther away, and more expensive to reach! I came really close to reaching my goal of 50 states, but in doing so I saw much more than 50 cities. So, I hope I’ll do that well with this goal.

As with any year-long goal, it’s easier to be successful if you get started early. And I’m getting started in just 10 days! As you may know, I spent last year learning Italian, and my reward is that this year I will visit Italy for 30 days!

On January 11th I will land in Rome, and then I will spend the next month wandering around Italy by train. I intend to visit Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice, Milan, and whatever else I have time for, so the year is off to a good start!

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!

Tags: ,
6th December
written by Randy

I do crazy things.

People used to shocked by it, and for a while that was fun. But now they’re not shocked anymore, and that’s fun too. I don’t do it to shock people, but I will admit that I enjoy it when it happens.

I do crazy things because it makes every day fun. I don’t worry about what’s “normal”, or what people will think of me. I allow my life to be an experiment, and that has made it an amazing experience for me.

I don’t worry what people will think about me shaving my armpits and giving up soap. I throw away my alarm clock the week before starting a new job. I say things to job recruiters that most people would never say.

Most of the time, it works out for the best. But no matter how it works out, the important thing is that I live happily, without second-guessing myself and worrying what other people will think. Every day is a potential new adventure, and I enjoy every minute of it.

At the beginning of this year, I started a web site, claiming I would learn to speak a new language fluently every year! Perhaps it’s crazy, but as the year is drawing to an end, I’m already reasonably fluent in Italian, and more importantly, I now have one of the most well-known language-learning blogs on the internet. And through this adventure I’ve met interesting people and made many new friends all over the world!

This year I also set out on a mission to see all 50 states, and in addition to all the fun of doing that anyway, one of the unexpected benefits has been that it gives me something interesting to talk about. People often ask “so, what brings you here?” When I answer that “this is state number 43 on my mission to visit all 50 in one year,” their eyes get big and a fun conversation begins!

You can do it too. Do crazy things! Those are the things you’ll always remember. In 20 years, you’ll look back and you won’t remember any of the responsible decisions you made, but you’ll always remember the crazy things you did. And frankly, the people around you will be much more interested in hearing about them.

That’s what this blog is about. Doing crazy things. Think big. Dream big. Take no prisoners. This year is almost over, and soon it will be 2011. I’ve already got big ideas for next year. Are you thinking about what your yearly challenge will be?