You’re about to set off on an adventure, one that you’ve been planning for a long time and everything feels perfect and in place. All of a sudden, something changes, and you find yourself dealing with a whole range of things you didn’t even think of. You find yourself wondering what went wrong and if you were to blame, or you start blaming just about anyone who you can think of for you not having the experience that you spent so long working towards. Even though it can be utterly heart breaking when an experience doesn’t go the way you’d planned, it isn’t helpful, and it certainly isn’t helping you grow or even just enjoy the experiences that you want in life.
There have been so many experiences and adventures that I’ve spent a long-time planning, getting excited about and visualising how they will look and feel in my imagination that when they’ve ‘fallen short’ its significantly affected my ability to enjoy the experience. As human beings, with all of our emotions, whether we realise it or not, we set our expectations on pretty much everything in our lives. We spend a certain amount of money and expect a certain experience for what we value that expenditure at. We hear other people talking about the thing that we are about to do, so we build up an idea based on their experience and when it doesn’t come out exactly as they experienced it, we feel short changed.
The problem is, though, that when you start to attach an outcome to your perceived ideas on what your adventure or experience should look like, you become rigid and you leave no room for flexibility. When you look at what didn’t meet your expectation, you’re looking through the eyes of lack, rather than the abundance of what is actually there instead.
You miss the incredible moments that are there for you instead, because when you’re in that headspace, annoyed, you’re not really looking around you.
Sure, it takes effort to reframe your thoughts around anything, especially if you’re feeling disappointed, and it can often only be afterwards that we see it, but I invite you to look at how the rigidity you’re holding your experiences accountable to is actually stopping you from having the experience you’re meant to have.
And we are not meant to be in complete control of everything. You are meant to go with the flow.
My business coach often says to me that ‘in saying no to something, you need to look at what you’re saying yes to instead’. Since I took on board her wise words, I’ve found myself enjoying what I previously saw as shortcomings and seeing what I’d actually gained instead.
Last year, in February, we really wanted to climb mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Wales, but because of heavy snowfall and packed ice, we couldn’t get much further than 600m. In the past, I’d have felt really annoyed that I hadn’t managed to achieve my goal for the day. Instead of staying in that place of rigid thoughts, I got flexible and we stumbled upon the Ogden Valley, all covered in snow and had one of the most wonderful hikes of my life. The area is now one of my favourite places in the whole park. If we hadn’t of done that, who knows if we’d have ever discovered it.
In September when we were in Joshua Tree National Park, California, we had to cut a hike short because of itense heat and didn’t make it ‘to the end’. This is something that in the past would have had me so annoyed. I would have been hard on myself wondering why my body was feeling tired in that heat (and albeit less educated in the dangers of heat stroke in the Western Desert). Instead, I just thought, I’m just going to go with this. As we drove on from that hike, we started to see the sun set, and we experienced one of the greatest sunsets I’ve ever experienced.
Every single time that anything has happened that has not been what we planned has always resulted in us experiencing something truly amazing that we would not have experienced otherwise.
I recently took part in a winter expedition skills course in the Pyrenees, with the aim of climbing Aneto, the highest peak in the Spanish Pyrenees with 360 Expeditions. The expedition was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. The weather had other designs on the week however. After a brutal trek into the mountain hut we were to stay in due to intense weather storms and various days of white out conditions, our guide made the wise decision for us to trek back down the mountain before conditions became worse.
If we had have tried to climb Aneto, in 120 kph winds and -42c conditions with 5/5 avalanche risks, there’s a good chance we would have died. Your rigidity is not worth your life.
On our Utah trip last year, we had so much planned it was unreal, and we started to get really overwhelmed by our schedule. We’d been given so much amazing advice by our hosts that we decided to ditch our plans, follow our intuition and go where we were being called. The hikes we experienced were some of our favourite ever and we would not have experienced any of them if we had have sticked with our rigid schedule.
In every single one of those scenarios, I could have killed my enjoyment of the experience by choosing to stay in what I lost, but because I stayed open and flexible, removing pressure from the outcome, I found the experiences I was meant to have in every single one of those occasions. Plus, by staying positive and wondering what I was going to experience next, I allowed myself to deal with any problems quickly rather than spending hours trying to fix something from being in a negative headspace.
In every single one of those occasions, I learned something about myself, saw something incredible or just discovered another place to love.
Life isn’t meant to be straightforward, and neither is travel. Keep an open mind, change your perception, stay flexible and don’t put so much pressure on the outcome.
I can guarantee you’ll enjoy your adventures more.