Adventure is everywhere these days, and if we’re not on a trip or planning the next one, it’s almost certain that we’re hearing about someone else’s. Colorful dreamscape squares on our phones scroll alongside the realities of a cubicle wall, a crowded city bus, to-do lists, and overfull calendars. Contrast is winning, and it’s all too easy to think that everyone else is living the dream while we’re back home taking one for the team. Despite our longings and daydreams, we often find ourselves without plans to get out on the weekend, or committing to another year of the routine, resigning ourselves to the throes of vicarious living. The reasons for not going are plentiful, and often trump our bubbling desires for adventure.
Adventure is for all of us though, and if you crave it, you can have it. Most of us dream of an escape: the kiss of fresh air, to live closer to the edge, the perspective that wilderness brings, or time for only the essentials to be essential. The beyond is at once so close and so far. So if you’re stuck in the chasm between staying and going, here are six ideas for making the surreal a bit more real:
1. Keep a List of Dreams
I have a “Dream Big” list on my phone, my friend Jamie keeps an “LTDing” folder in Pinterest, my mom collects magazine cutouts and dog-ears guidebooks. Whatever your method, start compiling a list. Even just the act of writing an idea down or pinning a photo might make it seem more real, more possible. And then when the scrolling squares on your phone poke your adventurous bone once again, you have something tangible to turn to.
2. Put Logistics in Their Place
For many, the planning and logistics of a trip can be overwhelming and often paralyzing. I can totally relate. Then I think back on a solo bike trip I took down the Pacific Coast last summer. No itinerary, no end date, no partner—just a bike and camping gear—and one of the most amazing, positive adventures of my life, full of people and places that I never could have planned. I’m sure most of us have a similar story. So when the “planning anxiety” comes back this next time, remember about your last spontaneous adventure. If that isn’t enough, try something new: plan just the first few days of your trip. Make sure you know when to catch that first ferry, or where you’re camping that first night, and be certain to get that permit—just enough to get you out of your house with confidence. The rest will happen, it always does.
3. Make Yourself Accountable to a Person or Date
Put your next adventure on the calendar, ask for time off, get a permit, and rally your adventure buddies. Sometimes when the first step is taken from the computer or phone it’s more comfortable and less intimidating, yet deceivingly committing. So make those calls and press those buttons, and perhaps you’ve taken the most difficult first step!
4. Look Through Photos/Journals of Your Last Trip
Remember that one-time Jack slid naked down the snowslope into the thawing lake? Or when you got off work late and biked through the night to join your family on the island? That trip to the coast when you ran around on the beach after the tide had gone out, bioluminescence tracking your footsteps? Get in touch with those feelings, those memories: remember what it was like to feel alive and adventurous. You won’t be able to stop yourself from hitting the road!
5. Be Creative
Maybe you only have one free day every week, if you’re lucky. Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by expectations of month-long retreats to far-flung places. Getting away from the routine and finding the vigor that adventure brings can take on so many forms: perhaps try riding your bike to work, or joining a language conversation group, or volunteering with a non-profit organization. With a little creativity, we can be lifelong and daily adventurers.
6. Identify Your Excuses
We’ve all got them: reasons why we shouldn’t live our dream, be happy, or do what we want to do. “I’m too busy,” “That’s not for me,” “I don’t have enough money,” “What would I do with my dog/cat/houseplant?” Start to listen to those voices with an outside perspective. Ask yourself where they come from and how they impact you. Know that only you can make it happen, and that your neighbor probably secretly longs to water your houseplant.
This post goes out to the armchair adventurers, the Instagram intrepids, and those at work with wanderlust on the mind. This one goes out to all of us, when the routine seems comfortable, when obligations are bent on keeping us at home, when “the dream” seems far off and unattainable. This one goes out to me and you, because yes, we’ve all been there, and yes, we all want to go there. So let’s match that personal inertia with the anti-gravity of motivation and JUST GO!