The Enlightenment Challenge – Every Six Years, We Need to Evolve

For the past few months Dave and I have been busy. Like most people in the world, we’ve noticed that we are finding less time to spend relaxing and enjoying the little things in life and more time running around making ourselves stressed and being over worked. As our careers as travel personalities fall in to place, the commitments begin to pile up and we in turn find that we’re not taking the time to smell the roses.

The other day we were talking with a producer from The Social (a TV Talk Show here in Canada that we pop in as guests on every couple of months). We were retelling our story of when we took the plunge to become full time travellers. It was 2006, six years after taking a five week trip to Thailand that changed our lives. Before that trip to Thailand in 2000, we were stuck in a rut. We’d already been together for 9 years, and didn’t even realize that we were slowly drifting apart.

The First Six Years

A couple of years into our relationship we moved to Vancouver where we stumbled in to the film business. In 1994, we switched our goals of being famous musicians to creating a life behind the scenes in movies. For six years we worked hard trying to make a name for ourselves. Dave got in to the film union and paid his dues working as crew on several blockbuster movies, while I took daily calls on TV shows and smaller budget films to try to break in to the make-up department. We were spending so much time focusing on trying to create successful careers that we were ignoring each other. We were living separate lives and simply weren’t very interesting people. We didn’t do anything exciting outside of our jobs. We’d work all week, run errands on the weekend and maybe catch a movie or go out for dinner.

Life was boring. 

The Start of a Great New 6 Years

In 2000, after working very hard for two solid years on back to back movies, we decided to take a five week trip to Thailand for a break. It opened our eyes and introduced us to a new way of thinking about life. In Thailand, we met people who were traveling the world for months, even years at a time. We didn’t know that people actually lived this way. We thought that everyone did what they were supposed to do like us – Work hard, try to make a lot of money for retirement, buy a house and spend two weeks or so a year on vacation in the Caribbean. Suddenly, we realized we were thinking about life all wrong.

When we returned to Canada we made drastic changes that helped us to focus on more than just our careers. We were inspired by the adventures we did while travelling and took them up when we came home. We signed up for indoor rock climbing lessons after falling in love with climbing in Railay, Thailand, we took up scuba diving after snorkelling there, we bought new bikes and started mountain biking, and we even took an adventure racing course.

Taking up Adventures in Canada

Scuba Diving in the Chilly Waters of Ontario, Canada

Our lives were fulfilled outside of our careers and in turn opportunities fell in to our lap at work. Dave was promoted to Rigging Gaffer and ran crews on huge films. I was called out of the blue to work on contract with a popular TV station. We recall thinking that because we opened ourselves up to new possibilities in life, we became more interesting people. People wanted to be around us because we had a new sense of confidence. We opened the door and let out the negative which made room for great things to happen at work and in life. Everything fell in to place beautifully and we achieved many of the goals we made.

The next 6 years were spent balancing our careers in the film business with our life of adventure. We set aside weeks, even months each year to travel the world. However, 6 years later, we found ourselves starting to feel unfulfilled again. Even though we kept busy with travel and work, we weren’t fulfilled because we felt we were living two half lives. We weren’t 100% focused on our career and we weren’t 100% a part of the travel world. We knew that we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives on a film set and wait for retirement to finally travel full time, so we had to make a choice. It was on December 31st, 2006 that we decided once and for all to become full time adventurers. We didn’t know how yet, but we made a pact that by this time next year, we’d be on our way to doing so.

cycling africa

It was time to stop living half lives with one foot in our careers in the Film Business and one foot in travel. We spent 2007 preparing, saving money and training for a cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town. That was going to be our ticket out. We would enter that 12,000 km cycling race and make a name for ourselves as an adventure couple. By January 2008 we were on our way to Cairo. We had created ThePlanetD and we had taken an huge leap in our lives. It miraculously worked, because we’ve now been making a full time living from our travel blog. We haven’t gone back to our jobs in the film industry and we’re thrilled to say that we are full time adventurers!

It’s been 6 years since we left to cycle Africa 

Our Most Recent Adventure, Ice Climbing in Alberta

Our Most Recent Adventure, Ice Climbing in Alberta

During the Christmas break of 2007, we were busy packing our bikes and gear for our 12,000 km odyssey ahead. That was exactly six years ago and even though we are living our dreams, we’re already feeling the itch again. I think, no matter how happy you are in your careers or your relationship, there is always something in life that keeps you from feeling completely content. Or maybe it is simply our personalities. We are constantly searching and yearning for more.

The Start of The Next Six Years. 

We’ve noticed that this past year has been a difficult one for us. We’ve been short and frustrated with each other and life. We’ve been edgy and anxious about everything and we never feel content. Could it be the six year cycle catching up to us again?

I was thinking the other day about how much Dave and I complain to each other. All year we’ve been balls of stress and we don’t know why. Especially during travel days. If I were a little bird standing in line at the airport listening to our conversations about slow people at security, crappy airport lounges and our frustration with tickets, I’d wonder why these two people decided to travel at all? We did the math came to the conclusion that in 2013, we were in one airport or another at least 30 times this year. That’s 30 days – 1 month out of 12 spent in an airport or flying! No wonder we have grown short and frustrated with flying.

However, we are the luckiest people in the world, and to complain about the fact that we get to travel and fly for a living is ridiculous. And yet, we find things to complain about every day. “It’s a grind spending days in a hotel, we’re tired of eating at restaurants, if only we had our own bed and could unpack all our stuff.” Complaining is the easy way out. If you don’t check yourself, you can have the best life in the world, but still find something to complain about. I believe it is human nature to complain rather than have patience. Especially when you are feeling tired and overwhelmed. It’s so much easier when you are standing in a long line to absorb the bad energy of the crowd surrounding you and start complaining to each other rather than to take a deep breath, relax and go with the flow. We’ve found ourselves complaining over some very ridiculous things lately and it must stop. We’ve found that we are stressed about things that are beyond our control and that we worry about the small stuff.

So What is this Enlightenment Challenge? 

I believe that Dave and I have fallen in to some bad habits. We love each other, but lately we can be quite short with each other. When you travel together 24/7 it’s easy to blame each other for every little thing that goes wrong. We’ve lost patience with one another and with other people. We take our frustrations out on one another and it’s time to stop.

We’re at the start of another six year cycle. Only this time, we don’t want to make any drastic changes in life or careers. We love where we are, we just don’t like how we feel. We want to find that relaxed feeling again. We want to stop worrying so much and stop feeling that we are falling short every day. We want to feel content with our accomplishments rather than looking at our downfalls and failures. We don’t know when these negative feelings crept in to our lives, but for the past few months, instead of feeling good about things, we’ve been focusing on the things that go wrong. Up until now, we never noticed. We thought we were going along just fine until we had an epic day of travel where one thing after another went wrong. For some reason we were in a good mindset and went with the punches that day. Afterwards, we said to each other, why don’t we have this type of patience more often? It got us thinking. 

The Challenge

I think that now that we feel comfortable with our careers, our old habits, patterns and mindsets have come back without us even realizing it. Lucky for us, we realized it before it was too late. We don’t want to fall into a negative cycle that we can’t get out of. So we are going to break the pattern before it takes hold for good.

For the next 30 days, Dave and I have decided to take a challenge of having more patience. When our instinct is to complain about a situation, we’re going to stop each other and say something positive. When something negative is about to come out of our mouths, we’re going to turn it in to something positive. It’s like a Seinfeld episode. Remember the one where George did The Opposite of every one of his instincts? Well, we’re going to do the same thing. When we start to lose patience, we’re going to remind ourselves that we’ve got it good. When we start to bicker, lay blame, point fingers or criticize, we’re going to do the opposite.

I believe that life is a constant challenge. No matter how much money you have, how successful you are or how amazing things look on the outside, there are always struggles. We think this 30 day challenge will put us back on track. We’ve always felt that 30 days can change a life. After 30 days of being diligent, I know that we’ll come out on the other end with that relaxed mood that we had just a few short years ago. By consciously checking ourselves, I think we can change this mindset we are in and after 30 days, the positive will take over the negative. Happiness takes work and you must choose to be happy. We may be feeling a bit of negativity now, but by not sweating the small stuff anymore, we’re going to get back to that laid back vibe we’ve always had and live in the moment. Life is beautiful.

Have you been feeling stressed or finding yourself sweating the small stuff? Why not take the challenge with us? It’s going to be a great start to 2014! 


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