Most people do not want too much adventure in their lives. Adventure means stepping out into the unknown and into the wild places of this world. It means abandoning the well-trodden, familiar, safe and conventional path in life. It means breaking out of your comfort zone and confronting your own fears, your own demons.
This article is for those people who do not conform to the herd mentality. The adventurers, the entrepreneurs, the mavericks, the wanderers, the vagabonds, the rebels and the dreamers. We are faced with the problem that going your own way in life is often a solitary road. Separating yourself from the majority of people who are sleepwalking their way through life is not easy. The path of least resistance is always there, and everyone will be constantly encouraging you to take it.
It is one thing to write about adventure when you are already on the road, following your dreams and living life to the full in some exotic country. You have the tangible rewards of your efforts all around you. You will be surrounded by other individuals who share your views, other entrepreneurs, travellers and adventurers who see the world the same way you do and who have disregarded the conventional way of thinking in the western world. I have been there, I know what it is like. That is the easy part of a life of adventure.
It is another thing entirely to write about the other side of the coin, the more mundane side to adventure – actually getting there. In particular, not just breaking free in the first place, but staying free.
This a key issue that keeps coming up in discussions with fellow adventurers. Adventure and freedom is only one half of the equation. The other half is the struggle and sacrifice required to earn that lifestyle.
There are many ‘lifestyle design’ gurus out there who will tell you that it is all in your head. That the only thing stopping you from breaking free is you. This is not true. It is far too easy for people who are already living a life of freedom and adventure to tell everyone else about how simple it is to quit conventional society and live a life of international travel and adventure. It is not worth spouting idealistic notions about how we are all already free and that travelling the world and living a life of adventure is as simple as deciding to do so. It is not.
Short-term travel and temporary adventure is easy. Sustainable, long-term adventure on the other hand, is not. It is considerably easier if you are one of two things. One, willing to live as a hippie, not making much money but also not spending much money, happy to continue living off the absolute minimum needed to survive. Two, if you already come from a wealthy background and do not need to find a way to support yourself on the road.
For everyone else, it requires considerable personal sacrifice and hard work. You have to earn that freedom. If you want to be truly free, and live the lifestyle that you want, then it requires hard graft. It requires sweat and sacrifice, endless cups of coffee and working through the night.
For every person living their dream, working, living and travelling in exotic countries and enjoying their hard-earned freedom, there are thousands of people out there who are not there yet. Thousands of people who have tasted the freedom, seen the possibilities of a life of adventure and travel, but have yet to find a way to make it sustainable.
This article is aimed at those people still on the sinking-ship that is the western world. Those people wanting a life of adventure, but still working towards it whilst based in places like the UK, the USA, Australia or Europe. For those of you who aim to pursue a life of adventure and freedom, but cannot yet escape abroad. Perhaps you are still studying your degree, perhaps you need to qualify in a certain field, perhaps you need to save up a certain amount of money. There are many reasons why an individual cannot simply relocate to a better environment and obtain their freedom immediately.
If you are one of those people, living in a bland, conformist, regulated, risk-averse society, you will encounter far more negativity from the people around you than will the people already working abroad. The more you strive for freedom, the harder everyone else will try to pull you back down. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the crabs in a bucket metaphor. This post is about how to deal with it.
In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield touches upon this concept. He calls it resistance. Otherwise known as bullshit excuses. You will get this from yourself at times, that voice telling you not to sit down and write, not to risk investing in your own business, not to get out of bed and go to the gym, not to book that one-way ticket. This can be minimalised or even eliminated through practice, willpower and determination.
However, what you cannot eliminate easily, is the negative resistance that you will get from the people around you. This is constant and unrelenting. By definition, most people are average. This is not something that will ever change.
Unfortunately, this means that as well as meeting resistance from most of the people around you, you will also be bombarded with bullshit from the media, the government and the institutions that form the basis for the society in which you live. Most of mass media is designed by, and aimed at, average. The news, TV shows, Facebook, popular culture, they all constitute one of the cornerstones of mediocrity.
Simple answer: switch that shit off. I don’t need to argue the benefits of not watching TV. I don’t need to tell you why X-Factor is pure poison. If you are reading this site, you already know this.
We are still left with the issue of being surrounded by people telling you how to live your life, pressuring you to join the ranks of the drones, the legions of sheeple populating the cities and towns of the western world.
So how do we deal with this?
In order to survive and escape the herd mentality, some of the unconventional advice out there is simple: ignore them. Separate yourself from these people and refuse to spend your time surrounded by such people.
However, that is not always possible. Nor is that my aim.
I believe it is possible to do far better than that. Remember the teachings of Marcus Aurelius – the obstacle is the way. I do not want to merely survive or escape the herd mentality. I want to thrive using the herd mentality
How is that possible?
Use the resistance of the sheeple around you to gauge the best path to take for your next adventure. Imagine a divining rod, vibrating when it’s pointed towards water. Now replace ‘vibration’ with ‘negative bullshit from people around you’ and ‘water’ with ‘adventure’. That’s how to find your way in the darkness.
Look around you. Pay attention and listen to what people say. Then do the complete opposite. Fight the current of mediocrity. Swim upstream.
This year has been a dark year for me. My plan has always been to have the skills and qualifications to enable me to work anywhere in the world, a way achieve long-term sustainable travel on my own terms. After several years working and travelling in a few different countries, I read a quote that changed my mindset completely.
‘You can’t beat the system by hiding out at the bottom of it.’
I wanted to gain access to some of the most forbidding and dangerous places out there. Many of those countries require a work visa, and you can’t easily get those without the necessary qualifications. There are many interesting countries out there that don’t just hand out tourist visas to any dipshit with a laptop claiming to be an online marketer.
In order to have the freedom to work anywhere in the world, I wanted an internationally recognised teaching qualification that would get me into some of the more difficult to reach places out there. I realised that in order to obtain this, a sacrifice was required. I had to leave a country that was as close to paradise as it gets, in order to pursue my ambitions and dreams.
I decided to return to my home country and in order to get the necessary qualification, I had to throw myself deep into the epicenter of mediocrity from which I had struggled so desperately to escape in the first place. But things were different this time. This time I had a purpose and a plan. That purpose was my light in the darkness.
I have spent the past year working with some of the most close-minded, fearful and average people you can imagine. I have had to spend my time working in a hopelessly broken and toxic educational environment. An environment that promotes mediocrity and conformity with one hand, and punishes anyone who tries to think outside the box or break the rules with the other.
I have questioned my sanity at times, sitting through HR meetings on the importance of Pupil Assessment Data, on how to promote ‘British Values in the Classroom’ and how to correctly fill out ‘Risk-Assessment and Safety Evaluations for Adventurous Activities’. I have sat in disbelief listening to mind-numbing conversations about pension plans, gardening supplies, diet plans, the best places to go grocery shopping and the all the latest celebrity gossip and TV dramas. And, of course, the latest X-Factor results. For months on end, I was unable to find a single person to talk to who was interested in adventure, travel or simply the world beyond their small, comfortable bubbles and televisions screens.
Yet by applying the principle of most resistance outlined above, I have come out of this year more determined and focused than ever. I have broken every single arbitrary rule that supposedly ‘cannot be broken’ and am now in a far better position than I initially planned to be in. I listened to the people around me and used their negativity as my compass, as a divining rod to plan my future. I probed with different ideas and listened to which possibilities caused the greatest resistance from the sheeple surrounding me.
Every time people told me that I was wrong, that I should settle into a comfortable existence with a mortgage and a pension, it simply hardened my resolve to avoid that miserable fate.
When my plans and ideas have been criticised for not being ‘the way things are done’, or as too risky, too dangerous, too difficult and too unconventional, it has just reassured me that I have been going in exactly the right direction.
You want to thrive on the mediocrity that surrounds you? Stop trying to ignore them and listen.
Listen to that negativity and those limiting beliefs. Absorb it and analyse it.
Listen carefully to get a feel for the direction that causes the strongest negative reaction from the sheeple herds.
When you find it, you’ll know.
You will be told that you are wrong. You will be told that it won’t work. You will be quoted statistics about how many businesses fail in the first year. You will be told that is it too risky. You will told that you need to jump through more hoops first. That you need to do what everyone else does. That you need to follow the rules.
You will have found the path of most resistance.
For then you will have found your compass. You will never again lose your way.
Once the path is revealed to you, then the rest is easy.
You must concentrate your energies, prepare yourself, focus on your work and harden your resolve. Refine your focus so that the path of most resistance becomes the only path.
Then you walk down the path and it will lead you to greatness and freedom.
And my friends, on the other side, paradise awaits.