3 Reasons Why You've Got to Follow Your Crazy Off-the-Beaten-Path Ideas
“There are some moments in life that are like pivots around which your existence turns – small intuitive flashes, when you know you have done something correct for a change, when you think you are on the right track.”
– Robyn Davidson, in Tracks, her memoir about walking across the Australian outback
I think one of the most surprising things to people who take a big leap in life is that they don’t immediately feel great about it.
Listen, if you had fear and anxiety about your leap before you took it – you likely will still have it after.
It doesn't suddenly become smooth sailing after you leap. Instead, what you’re likely to get is simply one of these “small intuitive flashes” that lets you know that you’re on the right track.
Personally I live for these moments – I love these shimmering signals, no matter how small, that let me know I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.
They fill me with the optimism that helps me get through all the usual hard stuff of life that inevitably also comes along the way.
For my upcoming podcast, I’ve interviewed seven sets of people who have taken some kind of "sabbatical" journey where they left everything behind for something new, and they all echo this experience.
Every leap has its hard moments and its amazing flashes of clarity. These are growth experiences – not carefree vacations, despite appearances – and with growth necessarily comes both challenge and reward.
Across the board however, everyone’s advice is this:
If you have an idea to do something exciting, adventurous, or off-the-beaten path with your life – you should find a way to do it.
1. Because the idea is probably not going to go away. It’s just going to keep bugging you, maybe even to the end of your life (when it transforms into regret).
2. Because it’s so rewarding. You learn so much. You get such a high from actually doing what it is that you wanted to do.
3. Because it really is possible. You might spend a lot of time convincing yourself how difficult it will be, how inconvenient, how it’s not the right time, how it might upset other people and the status quo -- but there really is a practical solution for everything, if you are brave and willing to tackle it, and seek help. Everything is “figureoutable.”
It’s worth it.
If the idea of really going after one of your crazy and compelling ideas makes you uncomfortable, I can relate.
For example, one of my crazy ideas is to find a way to keep going on multi-day backpacking trips even though I have a toddler. Ever since my daughter was born, I’ve been telling my husband and friends that what I’ve got to do is get a mule or donkey and train it to carry her and our backpacks through the mountains.
Wouldn't that be awesome?
Everyone laughs, myself included, at the thought of me (American city girl with Sacagawea mothering fantasies, who knows nothing about pack animals) leading a Catalan donkey through the nearby mountains.
Yet the idea keeps popping into my head.
My husband will groan to hear this; with reason, he doesn’t want another animal (i.e. obligation) on the farm.
Something I’ve learned about myself these last five years or so is that backpacking feeds my soul like nothing else. Of course I could plan short trips where I leave my daughter with her grandparents for a couple of days – but what’s the fun of that?
What if I could actually share this with her, without having to wait until she’s several years older? I want to be the kind of mother who doesn't stop adventuring due to her kids, but finds a way to bring them along.
Also, if I were to sit down and treat this as a serious idea, I know things would fall into place.
We live on a farm, we have room for an animal. There are likely practical solutions to the logistical problems.
I would get to learn something totally new – because I have no idea what it takes to choose, train and care for one of these animals.
My need for information and support would give me the push and excuse to reach out to new people and communities, expanding and enriching my world. (Major bonus!)
Eek! By writing about this idea here, am I sharing too much? Am I making it too real? I'm not sure I'm ready yet.
Well, here’s the other thing about crazy ideas – even if you don’t go through with the original idea, there’s always lessons you can take from it.
Instead, I can be more creative about finding ways to experience elements of a backpacking trip even with a young daughter.
I can make it more a priority. I can find alternative ways of doing it. There are so many ways of solving the same problem.
Right now, in fact, I’m inspired by writer Kim Dinan’s adventure to take her toddler on the Camino de Santiago (yesterday’s feat was changing the flat tire on the stroller, and unfortunately, she texted me, today's feat might be the same).
Here’s my challenge for this week:
What’s one baby step that you could take to begin to test out one of your crazy ideas for your life?
Mine is to plan an overnight camp-out with my family before summer ends – which we haven’t even done yet!
A night under the stars, some morning campstove coffee, and watching my daughter explore the forest, will no doubt be an excellent dose of inspiration (and maybe even one of those small intuitive flashes) for me.
We’ll see how my husband feels. ;)
Do you have a leap that you want to get started on? Get some immediate inspiration and ideas -- and even ongoing support to make it happen. Learn more here.