As every year when my birthday is approaching, I look back at the year that has just passed and think: what did I make out of it?
We all have these moments when we really take time to look back, for some people it is around new year’s eve, others at their birthday’s like me.
The idea here is not to regret things but to reflect and think about what is important to you, take time to appreciate, and most importantly, act upon it for the next year(s).
For some it’s about expanding their comfort zone.
When I see women around me who learn skydiving or even MMA (you girls know who you are), this gives me faith in Humanity! Like I said before, most of the times the biggest barriers are in your own head, and the important thing is to take one small step at a time, and suddenly there it is.
These past months I tried so many different things. Starting with kite-surfing, I had a first hard day thinking I would not be able to do it, but then tried again and managed to overcome that feeling and actually had a great time learning!
Same with rock-climbing, after the first climb, I remember thinking that is soooo mentally extreme, and I thought I would not do it another time. I had experimented it and I was fine with it. Well I did try again, and now I think I would actually like to learn how to rock climb.
Same with free-diving, after I got explained few simple steps I ended up doing a two-days course where I went down to 10 meters. Ok not so deep compared to others, but the feeling of being down in the sea on a single breath and looking up seeing others at the surface is something I will never forget.
Of course, there are many people who do much more/better/faster/anything your mind or your ego tells you/ but the important thing is trying new things, which in turn builds self-confidence. And the ‘level’ you reach really doesn’t matter. At all.
For me, it is also about meeting people who change my perspective on life.
This person might as well be someone living in your street. The good thing about traveling is that you end up meeting many people in very little time, and through very random situations! Waiting for a bus, going to the same place, asking for an advice on where to eat/go out/stay. Full-time travelers, social workers, diving instructors, aspiring mentors, marine scientists, guesthouse owners, journalists, ex-bankers, kite-surf instructors, chefs, photographers, video producers… It is impossible to put them all here. You realize quickly there are many things you can do if you really want to.
And that what really matters is not what you do but how you do it. That means you will not like it all, 100% of the time, but if you appreciate most of what you do, it is probably worth it.
And this leads me to… purpose! Having contributed to create something positive, whether it is a change in (your/others’) behaviors or perceptions on a particular topic, or contributing to develop communities is really rewarding too.
I have met so many travelers on this trip concerned about CO2 emissions, many said they would become vegetarian when going back home, and they actually did it. Well done guys! Other people managed to raise awareness and reduce communities plastic consumption. Well that’s all positive change.
I had time these past months, and I thought I would use some of it to create some positive change as well. Maybe it’s just me (and my marketing bias or my French origin), but I always question: what is my legitimacy in the field? Well sometimes the answer is: stop thinking and just do it. It is actually very simple to start. With the skills and experience acquired along the years (even in a different field) and some common sense, you can actually improve small things and start make a difference. Then bigger things. Legitimacy builds up with time and consistent involvement.
I volunteered a few months back for a Social start-up organization in Brazil and I was surprised how easy it was to give advice on their marketing strategy. Of course volunteering in an area where you can leverage skills you already have seems more ‘natural’. But you would be surprised how fast you can learn and input in any situation. From giving out English classes to kids in West Papua or do some coral transects in East Timor, I quickly realized that with interest and a bit of pragmatism you can basically do anything!
So above all, when I look back, I look at what I did good and what I really enjoyed. Both simple and more purpose-driven things. Take time to appreciate. And choose to perpetuate.