Preparing for an adventure is a challenge. Pressure starts to build regarding the departure deadline. The bucket list item that arises in the thought process at the beginning of a dream is vague. The thoughts transition only when some action takes place otherwise it’s just a fantasy. The steps are small at first. When the planning gets going a choice is necessary. Will a short tempered, easily bothered Tasmanian Devil spin about or an enthusiastic and excited person emerge?
The question then is how to take this process and enjoy it so that at the end of each day of preparation for the adventure we can say “it is good?” Maybe even get to the point of saying it is very good. Treasuring each moment spirit, mind, and body is a goal worthy of setting.
Being aware of the state of mind when under pressure to meet a deadline is important. Do not succumb to negative self-talk. Easy to do, but non-productive. Do everything possible to develop tools to combat that negative mindset. The sooner the habit of choosing to enjoy each moment occurs, the more productive and fulfilling the journey of getting to that start date becomes.
What are former coping mechanisms? Years passed before this writer realized a negative mindset reared its ugly head each time an opportunity for adventure arose. Allow this to take root and the mind works to find all the reasons not to partake of life changing experiences. Just as God saw the days of creation as “good,” so can each day of creating an adventure be good.
Choose a coping process. Frustrations, fears, and anxiety generate negativity. Energy drains from putting forth the effort and discipline planning a great adventure requires. The good news is the same part of the brain that triggers these negative emotions is also where excitement originates.
Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) supports this concept with extensive research. According to Kahneman, locating where the thinking takes place in the brain is more important than what the thoughts are. Getting the thoughts to where the brain processes best is the key.
Everything gets funneled through the amygdala which is the emotional center of thinking. The prefrontal cortex is the slow or logical thinking part of the brain. An identified emotion, especially a negative one, needs addressed immediately. Kahneman’s findings reveal when emotions conflict with logic, emotions always win. Funneling thinking to the pre-frontal cortex is the prime directive. Here’s the part of the brain to properly deal with turning negative things to productivity and peace of mind.
Failure to do the “rearranging” of thinking associated with planned adventures results in ambivalence. The harder the adventure preparation seems to be, the less likely it is pursued in the future. No wonder people become sedentary and avoid risk.
The longer a person stands at the top of a ski slope that is extremely challenging, the harder it is to go over the edge. Likewise the case for whatever your adventure is. Make mental preparation a requirement when dreaming about the excitement of undertaking a great adventure. The preparation needs to be perceived for what it is, a struggle, but something that can be enjoyable.
Especially when choosing an enjoyable adventure, the preparation should not be a deterrent to doing it. Personally competing in high school basketball games was awesome, but practice was gratifying too. What began as a teenage boy led to decades of playing for enjoyment, fitness, and connecting with other guys. Adventures need to have an appeal.
Personally, basketball in every regard was naturally satisfying but most things are not. Make the preparation part of the adventure as enjoyable as possible. Enjoyment is different from being happy. Enjoyment includes doing something that is meaningful and fulfilling even when it’s not fun. It is a matter of mindset.
In summary, don’t underestimate how ugly that inner self can be. Push back anger, bitterness, whining, moaning, and complaining. Bad feelings during adventure prep are normal and need to be dealt with. Know that you are not alone when challenges arise that involve strong emotions. Acknowledge these as part of the process. Identify the bad guys and win the battle. There is hope.
Put aside that old self, renew the spirit of your mind through sound thinking, and put on a new self. Each adventure, inclusive of the preparation, is an opportunity to grow as a person. The “adventure” is inclusive of all things before (preparation), during, and after (processing all that happened). Looking at the big picture enhances the overall experience.
You can do this!
I get a kick out of your comments so let me know some packing, prepping, organizing hardships you’ve been through. How did you get through them? What did you learn?