Many people like to experience adventures and enjoy the beauty of exploring cultures, nature, countries, and other outdoor experiences – me too!
That's why I have made traveling my profession and developed my style by regularly facing adventure challenges to bust out of my comfort zone.
My most popular adventure challenge is "How to Travel the World for Free" (PBS, Tonight Show) followed by "How to Barter for Paradise" (how to turn a bitten apple into a house in Hawaii), "How to Travel Europe Blindfolded" and "How to Travel Germany on a Kick Scooter."
You get my passion for adventure challenges.
After a decade of traveling to almost 100 countries, I realized that this was more than just adventure. Things went way deeper. I started seeing these out-of-the-comfort-zone challenges as my kind of therapist - a therapist who doesn't really charge for the session, and who is always present as long as I am willing to leave my comfort zone.
What's the Real Effect of Leaving Your Comfort Zone?
I think there are many aspects of personal development involved in facing adventure challenges. Let me summarize the four most important elements I experienced in meeting the challenge of "How to Travel the World for Free."
1. Embracing Change
Traveling the world without money was fun and beautiful, but it also meant no money for daily food, travel, and accommodation. This required a lot of creativity: trade for food, work for people as their butler (I brought a British butler costume with me for a convincing role), be trustworthy, be funny, do certain street stunts (pillow fights for $1 work well, especially in San Francisco), sleep on the side of the road, hitchhike, and much more. I had to turn into a chameleon due to many different ideas and activities every day. This pressure to change can be stressful due to the lack of stability. The comfort zone of "home" becomes a dream you left far behind. But in retrospect, this practice has helped me so much that I have become more willing to stay out of my comfort zone and lose the fear of change, as I have summarized in my TEDx talk "Ring the Bell" and my other keynotes (here's the German version).
You will experience every kind of similar benefit as soon as you face your adventure challenge and get out and go!
The emphasis of self-motivation is so high in our society when it comes to work performance, as well as the need to achieve specific goals in life. The answer to the question "how do I become self-motivated?" is so simple that it's easy to overlook.
My simple idea:
Set one challenge after another in your life. This can be an adventurous challenge, but also small personal and professional goals.
As long as we have goals and face particular challenges along the way, the goals as a kind of magnet in our future, that will pull and motivate us.
I didn't have one single minute not being motivated during "How to Travel the World for Free" due to the lofty goal of traveling without money to Antarctica within half a year.
3. Overcoming Fear and Anxiety
We all seem to have some fears affecting our lives somehow. Sometimes fears can be subtle, unconscious, and challenging to recognize. But negative beliefs and individual life experiences often develop that little man in our head who always says
"You shouldn't... you couldn't... you mustn't!"
I've decided to fight against this little man daily, to face his pessimistic voice, and push through fear.
The more I faced my fears of loneliness, hunger, and failure during my adventure challenge around the world, the smaller this voice in my head became.
Imagine a person who is afraid of flying - as long as they don't get on a plane to face the fear, the fear of flying will never stop.
I like to keep the quote of the author Richie Norton in my mind to stay motivated when facing my fears:
If you want to overcome some personal obstacles, you have to go through them and not around.
Resilience is a combination of our emotional strength to overcome stress and crises. Resilient people usually overcome difficult phases of their lives more easily than people who are not so resilient.
And the good news for all those who are not sure whether they belong to the group of more of less resilient people:
Resilience is learnable and has nothing to do with genes, intelligence, or talent!
I usually divide resilience into seven pillars:
- Optimism vs pessimism
- Solution orientation vs problem orientation
- Ability to network and have a social support system
- Acceptance of the unchangeable (weather, the decision of the boss, etc.)
- Personal responsibility
- Self-control (how well can I motivate myself, balance my stress, etc.)
- Future orientation
Just score these seven pillars for yourself. 10 is excellent and 0 is not so great. If you recognize a few pillars as not too strong - don't worry!
I have improved my resilience pillars during my adventure challenges because these challenges forced me to be optimistic, self-reliant and solution-oriented to achieve my goals. Adventure challenges provide an excellent framework (with a little pressure) to improve these aspects.
My Takeaway From My Trips
I am glad that I went out to see people and countries and experienced adventures because every kind of adventure challenge is a therapeutic step for my personal development. Fear, change, motivation, resilience, and so many other aspects are just waiting for you to be confronted with your next adventure.
My next challenge is to trail run the Colorado Trail, 500 miles from Denver to Durango in Colorado. What is yours?
About the author
Award-winning motivational speaker, Michael Wigge, specializes in documenting incredible challenge stories. He shared his amazing success stories on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Katy Perry and also on The Today Show. His TV programs, speaking engagements, and books have been delivered and published internationally. Wigge lives in Denver, Colorado, and offers his CHALLENGE-4-CHANGE concept as seminars and keynotes in the US and as motivational training in Europe.