Are you struggling to discover your life’s purpose and passions? One can find true happiness when inner motivations match external circumstances. If you haven’t quite got there, then self-introspection can help get your life back on track. Today I would like to share my journey towards self discovery – and perhaps you might get inspired to shake things up in your life too!
The Journey Begins
A few years back, when a good friend took me on a seven day hike along the Great Ocean Walk, I felt like I had found ‘my thing’. Carrying all the possessions I would need for a week on my back doesn’t sound like most people's idea of fun, but after my first trip I was hooked.
At the end of the week I could barely walk on account of my feet covered in oozing blisters. I guess you could call me a masochist because I loved the experience and before long I was hiking every weekend.
I loved the mental and physical challenge, the beauty of being in the wilderness, the trees, mountains and the occasional blue tongue lizard. I knew I couldn’t keep going to my 9-5pm job. I had to break free and follow my dream and passion to spend more time in the wilderness.
What better place for this than the wild and untouched New Zealand!
New Zealand Adventures
The plan started off simply enough. Save money, quit my job and hike the length of New Zealand’s south island for 6 months. Little did I know that this would turn into 18 months of global hiking. An experience that would change the course of my life and myself forever.
After spending 6 months in the mountains of New Zealand, sleeping in a tent or hut. Eating risoni with a stock cube cooked on my little camp stove every night, free from the demands of a job, a laptop, and a mortgage, I felt completely free. And I wasn’t ready to head back to the pressures and unnecessary demands of life in Melbourne. So I kept going.
Fortunately a hiking friend also looking to break free from the 9-5 grind was keen to join me on my travels and we decided to head to the most remote place we could find, the Stans, officially known as Central Asia. We spent three months hiking in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Meeting other intrepid travellers from all over the world opened my eyes to a different way of living. I met people who had hitched hiked, sailed and walked across continents. Living on less than $5 a day afforded them long term travel adventures.
After Central Asia I headed solo to Georgia, Armenia, Greece and Turkey to continue the hiking journey. I hitchhiked, bused, and flew across countries, seeing new mountain ranges and experiencing the hospitality of locals. But what was the point of it all? Yes it was fun and amazing and eye-opening to experience new cultures, try new food and meet new people but I also took home some life-changing lessons. Travel can be such an eye-opener!
Keep Life Simple – Declutter your home and heart
Carrying all my possessions on my back for 18 months made me feel like a turtle (and sometimes I moved at the pace of one) but it taught me that life can be pretty simple really. I had one set of clothes I wore in the day and one in the evening. My possessions were stripped right down to the essentials because I carried everything for the journey on my back, and my knees were crying out for a lighter pack. When I returned home and looked at my wardrobe with it’s many items I didn’t feel guilty as most would expect, I felt burdened. So much unnecessary stuff weighing me down. I wanted to declutter my life, starting with my possessions before moving into my head space. I knew that if I wanted my head to be clear it had to start with my surrounding environment.
Don’t be afraid to push yourself
Travelling on my own helped me discover my limits, and without knowing these I didn’t really know who I was. Placing myself in tough situations helped me discover who I was and what I was made of. It also increased my confidence and self worth. Granted this isn’t exclusive to travelling but it’s a fun way to test your own limits and see how you handle the pressure. When setting the goal of hiking the length of the south island of New Zealand I had no idea if I was going to buckle under the pressure on the side of a mountain and give up completely. Only by attempting a hard challenge did I discover what I can and can’t manage. And gaining the confidence of achieving this has made me push myself further in other areas of life just to see how far I can go.
Seek help – we were never meant to do everything alone
If you need to restore your faith in humanity than travel. Only when you put yourself out there, in a place of vulnerability and need, do you truly open yourself up to the generosity and kindness of strangers. In order to save money (and to meet locals) I spent a lot of time hitchhiking. By putting myself out there and asking for help in the form of a ride I was able to receive the generosity of strangers. Everything from a ride, to a meal to a bed for the night (and not the dodgy kind of bed). The majority of people out there are not out to hurt you but are loving, generous and kind people.
Begin your journey – now!
By travelling, I was able to get out of my bubble and expand my horizons. If you have read this far, then you are ready to start your own journey too! Step outside your comfort zone and achieve something you consider truly amazing. Don’t wait for a better time – the best time is right now!
So take the dive - joy, excitement and confidence await you!