Goal Diggers. What’s your Everest?
My sister warned me. After I finished such a big goal, there’d be a lull, a time when I felt a little lost. And there it was staring me in the face. I was back ‘home’ in Bangkok, Thailand. Sitting on the end of my bed, almost in tears. Lost.
11 years it took me to hit my 197 countries, 11 years of stress, expense, sacrifice and endless amazing adventures. I sat back in my apartment hoping to feel a sense of pride. I had run through this scenario countless times when I was stuck in police stations in the Ivory Coast, or lost on cargo boats on the way to Yemen. “One day, when I finish, I’ll be able to take a second to breathe, and appreciate it all”. Nope.
The beauty, you see, is the struggle. That old adage of the journey being all-important, as opposed to the destination. Suddenly it all made sense. My goal was to visit every country sure but more important was to show the world that anyone can reach their goals. You don’t need a fancy upbringing, you don’t need 2 parents and a trust fund. You need the courage and grit to make it happen, then you need to just go. And I felt like I had done that, but now what?
It’s been one year since I finished MY big goal. Was that my life’s Everest? Was that it? Of course not. Now it’s time to up the ante. I’ve proved to myself, and anyone who has heard my story, that genuinely anyone can make a success of their lives if their willing to take a risk and suffer. Now it’s time to take a few more risks, suffer a little more, and aim even higher. My journey is just beginning.
So I’ve snapped out of the haze of lost success, I’ve had time to reflect on what it means to set a goal and reach it. To push the boundaries of what we believe we are capable of is such an integral part of living a fulfilled life. And what is more important than knowing you have lived a fulfilled life? My boundaries have been pushed, further than I ever thought imaginable but the boundaries are still there, albeit a little further away. Still they stare back at me, begging to be pushed further. So should I shirk that challenge, knowing that I succeeded once before? Fuck no. Now’s the time to push them further still.
BE YOUR OWN SUPERHERO
A friend of mine, another blogger actually, once said to me that his dad told him to be his own superhero. So he studied survivalism, trekking, hunting, free climbing. He dedicated himself to being the most impressive version of himself. A version that he could look at in the mirror and be proud of, knowing he was maximizing his potential and living his truth. I was honestly in awe of that message, this was around 2013, my online profile was growing, online money was starting to flow but I didn’t quite get it. If anything, there was a large judgmental part of me back then scoffing at this concept (probably as many of you readers are doing right now at me), writing it off as some Pseudo-American narcissistic-driven ego trip. I was obsessed about buying an apartment, partying too much, worrying about the perception of who I was rather than who I actually was. Justin put me on the right path, and led the way impressively for years in his own way until his tragic death 2 years ago in India. Gone too young of course, but there’s genuine beauty and fulfillment in a life lived as your own superhero. Few regrets indeed.
So now I try to be my own superhero. I’m not particularly talented, neither in the online world in terms of blogging, Instagram etc, nor in the physical world where my sporting achievements are modest and natural talent limited. My 197 trip called for resilience and hard-headedness, so now I know I have that over the long-term. How about durability, the strength to suffer in the short-term but to keep fucking going? I put it to the test.
Having never so much as competed in a 5km race, I signed up to the North Pole Marathon, trained during my charity trips to India in 40 degree heat, then turned up and ran the thing in -40. I finished 8th. It certainly wasn’t my ability that got me through. Stubbornness. A desire to succeed and to push my boundaries. To ignore my groin screaming at me to stop as it felt like both sides had popped. Ok, we did it. This time I had learned. No resting on my laurels. Onwards and upwards. What’s next? What’s bigger, more daunting? What am I fearful of?
GOAL DIGGER. WHAT’S YOUR EVEREST?
So I set out my new goals. I haven’t publically owned them until now, so now is as good a time as any. For a start, my 197 countries were kind-of cheating (as I talked about HERE).
1) ACTUALLY, honestly, ethically visit every country in the world. Currently 212/216.
In terms of an ego trip, there are 197 countries, but that’s not the whole world. I played it safe in Somalia and Iraq, I avoided regions that were by all, intents-and-purposes, countries too. No more lying to myself. Time to right that wrong. I figure there are 216 countries that have a shout at being a nation, so first let’s get that done.
2) Run the next Marathon Des Sables – 6 marathons in 6 days through the Moroccan Sahara
Then let’s push those physical boundaries. Training for the North Pole Marathon was hell. I’m a busy guy, with my GiveBack GiveAway charity trips that I run and guide taking up time, finding time for training is tough. But people achieve much bigger things than I have with full-time jobs, with families, with so many more responsibilities than me. Don’t be a victim. Suck it up. So let’s push that boundary. I don’t like suffering, I don’t love marathons. How can I challenge myself most? The hardest footrace in the world. 250km run. 6 days. 50 degree heat (120 farenheit). Carrying all your food and tent etc while you run. Ouch.
3) Complete the 7 Summits – culminating in Everest.
Finally, what’s my next BIG goal. Every country, I’ll do it. Marathon Des Sables, I’m signed up and it’s in April 2019. What about something even bigger still? I heard people saying “What’s your Everest” Well if Everest is the ultimate signal of reaching a goal, there’s only one goal suitable. Everest. So I’ll do that, but first I’ll do all 7 summits, the highest mountain on each continent, finishing in Everest. Becoming the youngest (and perhaps first) person to do every country, North Pole, South Pole and the 7 summits in the world, ideally in the next 5 years. Now that’s my Everest.
So now I’m on a journey again. I’m committed to being my own superhero. I’ll enjoy the journey, and one day maybe appreciate it when it’s over. But the beauty is in the struggle, in the pushing of our individual boundaries.
What do I say to you guys? It took me 10 years to reach this mindset. That’s yet another indicator that I’m far from special. But what got me here was setting a big goal in the first place, reaching that, then rather than basking in the glory of that, setting a new goal. Don’t be mediocre, you’re capable of so much more than you think. Set a relatively big goal now, then strive to achieve it. You’ll surprise yourself. Then on to the next one. Don’t limit yourself. Before you know it, your Everest may actually be Everest too.