Adventures Await!!

Do you want more adventure in your life? How do you define ‘adventure’?

We want more adventures in our retirement years, even if they are ‘mini adventures’. So, what qualifies as an adventure? And once defined, can we create adventures that are positive and fulfilling?

We began some research and ultimately focused on four authors to help us answer these questions: Matt Walker, Chip and Dan Heath, and Steven Handel.

Adventure is Everything

Matt Walker is a leader of adventures. He writes about adventure for Psychology Today and his career is taking others on adventures. Matt says adventures have these five elements. Adventure in Everything

  1. Adventure is high endeavor. It is the ability to think big and think bigger about who you are, how you live, and what you can do in the world.
  2. Adventure is total commitment. It is the spirit of willingness to embrace challenge and move toward success. It is the acknowledgement that total commitment does not mean blind faith or brazen disregard, but it is confidence and belief in the face of challenge.
  3. Adventure has an uncertain outcome. A predetermined outcome is not an adventure but a packaged experience or amusement ride. It is the acknowledgement that there will be adversity and unease, but that an uncertain outcome is a gift of possibility.
  4. Adventure is tolerance for adversity. It is our ability to be resilient in the face of challenge. Our willingness to laugh, use humor, and grace during difficult situations.
  5. Adventure is great companionship. It takes a team to support living in commitment, joy, generosity, and gratitude.”

Matt’s definition of an adventure paints a picture of a well-planned, difficult, exhausting, once a year event. This likely requires significant time to plan and execute. At our current life stage, this scale of adventure requires significant time to anticipate and plan around. Therefore, with other commitments in place, at least initially, our big adventure will be once a year. But perhaps we could make small stabs at mini ‘adventures’ while we plan for our one true adventure.

The Power of Moments

Our goal is to make our big and mini adventures positive and memorable. How do we design that into the planning? Chip Heath and Dan Health, authors of The Power of Moments, state for a moment to be elevated (easily remembered) it needs to have at least two of these three elements:

  1. Boost sensory appeal.  New experiences stand out from the routine. So unique sensory experiences enhance the moment.
  2. Raise the stakes. This requires some element of unpredictability in the outcome.  There can be no guarantee of “success.”
  3. Break the script. Breaking the script means to violate expectations about an experience.

After a moment is ‘elevated’ to the memorable threshold, what makes it a positive moment?  A moment that yields insight, pride, and/or connection is positive.

Savoring Happiness

How do we savor these adventures? Savor the moments and the emotions? Finally Steven Handel suggests (in Savoring Happiness) we do the following to prolong a positive experience.

  • Be in the moment – The first and most obvious way to savor our experiences is to recognize that we are in a positive moment when it’s happening. Take it all in and absorb it as much as possible.
  • Take your time – If you have the choice on how fast you can consume the experience, the slower you consume the better when it comes to savoring. This is especially true for eating, drinking, sex, or just observing a sunset or painting.
  • Reflect on the good – Another common way we savor an experience is by reflecting on it after it’s over. Contemplation. Take a step back after a positive experience and think to yourself, “Wow, that was really something special and I’m glad I got to experience it.”
  • Share your story – We can also re-live our positive experiences every time we talk about them or share our story with others.  Such as, telling family and friends about your recent vacation or big event.
  • Take pictures – One of the most popular ways people savor experiences is by taking pictures. Mindful photography is a great way to appreciate your positive moments more, plus it gives you something to look back on years later to cherish.
  • Write about them – Journaling your positive experiences is another great way to cherish and savor every detail. The sooner you write about a positive experience, the more accurate your recollection will be. Then you can go back years later and remember details of the experience that you may have completely forgotten about.
  • Anticipate the future – We can savor moments after they happen, but we can also savor moments before they happen. Use the power of anticipation to begin feeling good about an experience before it has even started.
  • Seek more “awe” – Awe is one of the most under-appreciated positive emotions we have, but it’s quickly becoming a popular focus for psychologists. Check out the power of awe and seek more awe-inspiring experiences. These are the types of experiences that often stick with us the longest.
  • Treat each moment as if it were your last – One great mindset to have is to treat every moment as if it were your last. This shift in your perspective will allow you to appreciate your experiences more. You can learn more about this in the science of pleasure.

“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”

Ansel Adams

Do you agree with these four authors? How do you define an Adventure? If you were to define an adventure…what qualities do you believe are required? Dan and I are writing our own rules. These are the Aging With Freedom Adventure Rules. Our rules incorporate the insights above. We want adventure in life.  Here’s our take on adventure:

Aging With Freedom Adventure Rules

One major adventure a year. Matt Walker’s criteria applies. Think immersive challenge.

Monthly Mini-Adventures. In addition to the one major adventure, we will complete one mini-adventure every month. A mini-adventure requires all of the following.

  1. Active. Be an active not passive event. We are doers, not just observers.
  2. Finish. Have both a start and a finish and we must both finish.  Can’t drop out half-way through unless we both agree to and can complete a second adventure that month.
  3. New. Something new. An adventure we’ve not ever completed together. Unique experiences to enhance memories (See The Holiday Paradox)
  4. Free. Free or inexpensive.
  5. Adventure Dog. Ideally dog friendly. Include all members or our family when possible 🙂
  6. Finish. Have both a start and a finish, and we must both finish. Can’t drop out half-way through unless we both agree to stop.
  7. Log. Log/map/catalog each adventure (one page or less). Create a simple, condensed version for future reflection. The activity is to be the focus.

How to Plan an Adventure?

As newbies to this, we’re researching and learning on how to go about planning the process. Here’s what we’ve learned and lessons we plan to take with us.

  1. Start Local and Small. To avoid burnout or making an adventure a little too much we’re focusing on day-long, local adventures at the start.
  2. Enjoy Planning. Enjoy having an open book to choose something exciting and new. The planning is part of the experience.
  3. Choose Your Activity and Gear. Once you decide on your adventure, verify you have the gear needed. If going for a hike, do you need walking poles? New hiking boots?
  4. Remember Why You’re There. Enjoy being there and the experience. Life is too short and we want to embrace more of these moments.
  5. Stay Committed to the Experience. Some experiences flop. Be prepared to go with the flow and stay flexible.
  6. Future International Travel Plans.
    You might be focused on local adventures now but be prepared for bigger ones that will likely require international travel.
    • Check that Passport. US passports are valid for 10 years, and some countries don’t allow entry if your passport will expire less than six months before your travel dates.
    • Know your Health and Travel Insurance Coverage. What will be covered while you’re abroad? Look into foreign car insurance for your rental too.
    • Let your Bank Know.  Contact your bank and credit card issuers and let them know when and where you’ll be traveling. Your bank may flag or freeze your account over suspicion of international purchases.
    • Look into International Phone Plans. Check the international talk, text, and data plans your cellphone provider offers. Download a virtual private network app for added security.

We’re Better Together

Want to join us? Share your retirement adventures along the way? Use #AgingWithFreedom in your Instagram, Twitter and we’ll repost and retweet. If you like our Aging With Freedom Facebook page we can also repost and share your posts there. Let’s do this together and share! Life is an adventure!! We start with mini adventures in March.  

How to Plan An Adventure. We walnut leave anyone behind!