We all have plates to spin and balls to juggle. And I'm not from the camp that says "oh it's easy” or “just do what I do”. The vast majority of people have a 9-5 job and a commute, limited holiday, family commitments, limited savings and all the rest of it. Not to mention all the other aspects of life such as illness, disability or other unfortunate circumstances.
That said, I’m a great believer in the idea of “where there's a will, there's a way.” There are countless examples of people who have overcome some serious hardship — from extreme poverty to life-changing traumatic experiences — and if they can get through it, I firmly believe any of us can get over our relatively smaller challenges. It largely comes down to priorities and choices. I think a willingness to go with what you truly feel in your heart — no matter how scary it might feel — will go a long way. Pair that with knowledge, strategy and execution and you're on the right track.
How do you even figure out what's important to you in the first place?
My suggestion? Watch this. Then get out a pen and paper and write all the things down that you want from life. Sleep on it for a week and come back to that list. Honestly ask yourself what it is you really want. Then go for it.
Easier said than done, I know. If you do the above and still don’t know, the key is experiences: as many as possible, as varied as possible with as many different people as possible. Eventually you’ll start to find the things that "feel right". Keep doing that and your direction will appear soon enough. A little more guidance can be found here.
We are wired to be outside, not cooped up in front of a screen comparing our lives to everyone else's highlight reels.
What if you have a lot of different ideas and they’re all a bit jumbled and none of it really makes sense? I’ve been asked about this quite a bit recently. It actually came to a point in my own life where I had so much going on that I needed an outlet to help me sort it all out. So I went out and bought myself a white board and came back home and wrote everything down like a mad scientist – my girlfriend thought I'd lost the plot!
Over the next week, I hacked away at it until I had something that made sense. It now has SMART goals built around one single line of purpose which everything else clicks into. Small steps towards a few Big Hairy Audacious Goals! This has now become the “Grand Masterplan”. I look at it every day and it helps me stay me focused and therefore achieve what I set out to do – not just dream about it or come up with excuses about why I can’t do it.
What’s stopping you from making your dreams a reality?
One of my pet hates is what I like to call the "convenient excuses", mainly because I hear them all too often. I’m usually quite quick to counter them with several ways they can be overcome, but I've learned that some people just don’t want to hear about it. It’s as if people feel like I’m exposing them and hiding behind their excuses is both easier and more comfortable. It's harsh but true. If they honestly looked at themselves in the mirror and were willing to accept a little bit of a nudge in the right direction a solution could be found to almost all of the excuses I've heard.
Below, I’ve detailed three of the main excuses and outlined some really simple things anyone hoping to reclaim their time and focus on the important things can try. Build on these and things will start to happen. Discipline and "your why" is the key. It may get hard at times, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Excuse #1: “I don’t have enough time”
Stop watching TV, full stop, and limit your social media and mainstream media consumption. That doesn't mean stare at your phone instead. Try really cutting back for a few months and see how much spare time you suddenly have, and more importantly how much happier you start to feel! We are wired to be outside, not cooped up in front of a screen comparing our lives to everyone else's highlight reels. There is a lot of research out there that suggests most people watch four to five hours of TV a day. I dread to think what that, plus time spent on social media, is as a percentage of our entire lives.
Now do something useful with that time. While at the gym, out for a run or travelling A to B, listen to podcasts and Ted Talks of people who inspire you. This is all learning and growing, good for ideas and actual implementation of those ideas – all for free! It may even be worth trying to contact some of these people and seeing where that goes too.
Time is precious and you’ll never get it back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s also a leveller – no matter where you’re from or what you do, we all have the same 24 hours in each day. You need to take control of your own schedule as much as possible, learn to say no where appropriate and pay close attention to what makes you happy.
Excuse #2: “I don’t have enough money”
Cut down on drinking and smoking. Don't buy materialistic crap. Only buy what you actually need. If you're honest with yourself, you'll realise that's actually very little. There's a huge difference between wants and needs. There's a good quote about spending your whole life trying to impress people you don't even care about with shit you don't even want or need. It's totally pointless yet so many of us live like this. Save the rest of the cash and over time you'll start to see it accumulate. Be disciplined. Now you have some time, money and ideas…your excuses should be starting to fade away and a new horizon of possibilities starting to appear. These are all small steps.
Excuse #3: “I’ve got a family”
This is a balance and probably the trickiest one to implement as every situation is a little different and ultimately requires some compromise on some level. Saying that, there are countless ways to include your family whilst still achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.
Family shouldn't be seen as a burden or as a convenient excuse. They're your loved ones, your support network and your responsibility. I’d hope if you sat down with them, and explained your plan there would be more understanding than you may think. Especially if you can explain your why, the upside and the fact that you don't want to accumulate regrets as you grow older. Regrets are likely to breed resentment – and that’s not healthy for anyone.
So what next?
I think there’s a huge social shift underway at the moment – people are starting to actively avoid potential regrets and live their lives how they want to, not how they've been told to. And I encourage you to do the same. You’re not alone and others out there will help.
I think everything else required is freely available. If you're reading this, you have access to YouTube and Google and many other free resources. The information is there, it's now just getting off your arse and doing something about it!
If you still have excuses, do this: go on Google and see if there's one other person on this planet that has ever been in the same situation, or worse, and still achieved what they set out to. Once you find them, which in the vast majority of cases I think you will – you should use them as an example, a source of inspiration and not give into that "convenient excuse" you're giving yourself. Deep down, we're all quite similar and all far more capable than we realise.
The clock is ticking. What are you waiting for?
Matt Prior is an adventurer, pilot, photographer and world record holder. He served for six years flying jets in the Royal Air Force and, as a British Military Overseas Expedition Leader, led several multi-discipline expeditions across the world.
He is member of the Explorers Club, a qualified Wilderness First Responder and Paramotor Pilot. Matt has been to over 100 countries on numerous unsupported expeditions and ascended various famous peaks across five continents. You can join him on a one-week adventure like no other through his Adventure Academy. Apply here: www.mpadventureacademy.com