Thousands, maybe even millions, of people dream about being a world traveler. Often though, it just stays as a dream. Could it be so that it requires something to overcome fears and take us out of our comfort zone and take the leap and really do it?
Have we been totally comfortable every time when we’ve been on our way to leave for a trip? Definitely not! There’s this first stage of excitement and anticipation, when we’re happily planning our next adventure and use all our time to get things into places. Then, the closer the departure, the more excited we get, but also the more “the buts” turn up. What we’ve also noticed, every time, is that just before we leave we start to appreciate our home a lot: “Aren’t things good as they are? Why don’t we just forget about this and stay home this time?”, “should we really leave everything for such a long time and now when we also have kittens” or ”when the apple trees are blooming?” or “shouldn’t we really stay here and renovate the kitchen instead?” (and these may seem like small buts, but I can assure you, they have been accompanied by loads of much bigger ones).
There’s this Swedish couple who write and publish travel guide books called “Willma” (like a Swedish version of Lonely Planet). They travel the world regularly for their business and pleasure and they say that every single time they’re on their way to leave on some new adventure, they ask themselves –why- and try to persuade themselves to stay at home this time. And every single time, as soon as they have turned the key in their front door, there’s no more hesitation. Now they’re on their way, they’re travelers, and they almost forget they even have a home in Sweden.
To me, this is a great picture of taking yourself out of the comfort zone. When you’re on the verge of doing it, you try as hard as you can to talk yourself out of it. How great your old way of doing things or of being really is! When you then resist the urge to stay in the old and take the leap, everything changes. You usually don’t even remember why you stuck to your old way and realize that it wasn’t so difficult to take a new step at all, you just did it!
And have we regretted overcoming fears and taking our leaps and leaving things to go out into the world? Not one single time! Rather the opposite. We ask ourselves, again and again, why was this so difficult? How could we even think it would be better staying at home? And very often, almost every single time, we’re so happy traveling and being somewhere else, we don’t even want to go back.
“People who stay in ‘comfort zone’ do so sometimes more because of fear than comfort.”
- Thomas Leonard
So, we may call this whatever we want, fear of the unknown, fear of change or “you know what you have but not what you’ll get”, but it can be good to remember, when you find yourself wondering if you are losing your sanity taking your whole family around the world or whatever leap you’re planning, that there’s a part of you that will do whatever it can to keep you “safe” and in the familiar and well known. And you can be sure that that part, that little voice, will let you know it’s there. And then, it can be good to bear this in mind and to follow the advice I got myself the other day regarding doing something outside of my own comfort zone: “you may do it trembling – but do it!”
I want to finish here with some wise words from Wade, an experienced world traveler who we interviewed a while ago – you can read the whole interview here. When we asked him if he had any advice to people who dream about going out into the world but experience resistace and hesitation, he said:
“Everything always works out. The great thing about leaving is that you can usually return to the same place where you are standing right now. Have faith that you will figure everything out when you need to, and rest your mind about planning. Nothing ever works out according to plan anyway, so why waste the mental energy bothering with it. The adverse consequences of traveling that you may foresee are merely illusions. You are not nearly wise enough to foresee the future, so stop trying — go forth and see what happens.
It is my impression that the human capacity for planning for the future is a very rudimentary development that usually only serves to provoke fear and to hamstring any desire that we may have for change. If anyone thinks about their future they get scared — “what if this happens, what if that happens.” You know what? “what ifs” rarely ever really happen. Humans tend to be intelligent enough to make the most of their situations when they are in the moment, and often have the ability to sidestep any “what if’s” when they need to be sidestepped. You will be alright.
Fear is an emotion that is reserved for the potential occurrence of future adversity. When in a moment of adversity, fear is rarely ever felt. I know that I have often felt fear about future possibilities — about being robbed, about getting lost, being cold etc . . — but every time I have been in such a circumstance, fear is the last thing that I felt, as I was much too busy focusing on how to get out of the bad situation to be scared. Fear is a survival instinct only in the fact that it keeps you sitting where you are, it keeps you way out of danger. When in a bad circumstance you automatically figure it out, and usually leave the moment saying, “Wow, that was not that bad after all.”
When given free range, fear will keep you sitting right where you are forever and ever and ever. It is amazing that many people would rather be comfortable, hemmed in by fears of future occurrences, than to really find out what the future may hold. There are no “what if’s” in a moment of adversity, so why leave yourself hampered with “what if’s” when the horizon is clear and the sun is shining?”