For most of my almost 29 years on this planet, I have played life fairly safe. With a few exceptions of spontaneous, crazy moments like deciding to move to DC, traveling to Guatemala on a whim, and leaving a full-time job to live in another country and start a business, I have taken the safe route. I am constantly catching myself getting caught up in my fears of the what-ifs. I’m terrified of anything that is beyond my control.  I’m a worrier of everything and forever wondering “Will this work out?” or “What will happen if such and such happens.”

It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I partly blame the fact that I grew up with a Mom who is a Public Health Official (Love you, Mom!). Everything is about prevention and possibilities of different outcomes.

My Mom taught me I could do anything I want in life. Now I just need to navigate through my fears!

When I was eight, I had a nightmare that all around me people were falling and cracking their heads wide open. I woke up terrified. I started thinking of all the different ways I could potentially crack my head open – the corner of the fireplace, the coffee table, falling in the slippery shower, crashing my bike, and so on.  For a year I carried this intense fear around with me. It limited me. If I thought there was a possibility of me cracking my head open, I wouldn’t do it. While I moved on from my fear of head cracking, I became fearful of new things. And every time I became fearful of something out of my control, I stopped doing things or avoided situations in order to minimize the risk of harm.

After getting fed up with constant anxiety and worry, I dedicated the last year of my life to pushing myself to conquer some of my fears. I did a lot of soul-searching and realized that at the core of almost all my fears is a deep sense of fear of loss-of-control. If it’s risky, I want to run away.

The psychology behind fear is complex. While evolutionarily speaking, fears serve a purpose, succumbing to our own fears all the time seriously limits us and holds us back from reaching our full potential.

I’m tired of living a life full of unnecessary anxiety and constant worry of what will come, when most of what I worry about doesn’t come true anyway! The way I see it, I have two choices right now – become a doomsday prepper or embrace courage to live life the way I want.

Over the last year, I’ve learned life changes for the better when I choose to move through my fears and anxiety.  But I still find myself trapped in anxiety more than I care to be.

Getting a little closer to the edge at Bryce Canyon over the summer.

I can feel my adventurous spirit pulling at the strings screaming “Let me out. I need to escape!” There have been moments in the last six years that I have let her out, but only briefly. Then my fear of taking risks wins over. All my fears simultaneously pop up in my mind and I can no longer drown out that voice telling me, “You can’t. It’s too dangerous. Something horrible could happen.”

It’s not fun to sit back and watch as the world passes you by.  So as much as I love the show Doomsday Preppers, I’m choosing courage and declaring 2013 the year to live courageously and adventurously. Also, I took the Doomsday Preppers quiz and it doesn’t look like I would survive for long anyways.

In 2013, I’m embracing the courage to try the things that scare me, push me to be more creative, adventurous, and force me out of my comfort zone.

My 29th birthday is on January 2nd, and I’m declaring my 29th year, “My Year of Adventure”.  I got my feet wet last year by pushing myself to train and complete the 10-mile Cherry Blossom race in DC, moving out of the U.S., and leaving a stable full-time job to move to the other side of the world.  I’ve also done some serious work to address my fear of heights by getting a little closer to the cliff’s edge, going parasailing, and taking a hot air balloon ride (and yes, I kept my eyes open the whole time).

Parasailing in Myrtle Beach over the summer. I’m hiding my fear behind a smile but I was trembling with thoughts of snapping wires and lurking sharks below.

But now I’m ready to go full-throttle!

I’ve come up with a list of things I’d like to face, accomplish, or do in 2013 while I’m 29. By the time I turn 30, I want to have conscientiously chosen to do 29 things that push me beyond my comfort zone, help me expand my view of life, and show me I can do the things I think I cannot.

I’m not trying to go all Fear Factor here.  This list isn’t about making myself more scared, or staring death in the face just for the sake of it.  After all, each day we are one step closer to our own mortality.  So the only choice we have is to either live life the way we want or give into our fears and let life pass us by.  I’m choosing courage and I’m choosing adventure – choosing to push myself to live life the way I’ve always dreamed of.  One that I look back on when I’m 85 with no regrets, no paths I wish I had taken.

This list is about living life to the fullest and pushing myself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So here’s my list so far…. I left nine blank spaces to be filled in as the year progresses. Since I’m such a planner, not planning some things is a good thing!

1. Travel with wild abandon. Be spontaneous and trust that I will be in the right places at the right times. Know that it’s OK if every little detail is not planned.
2. Complete my PADI Scuba Certification. I’m halfway through – I just have to pass the test and complete my ocean dives. EEEK. I can’t help but picture sharks chasing me around the waters of Malaysia.

Getting ready for the pool dives. Up next – our ocean dives somewhere in SE Asia.

 

3. Complete 30 consecutive days of Yoga once and for all.  (I have attempted to do this so many times. I always hit a block and quit. No more quitting. 30 Days of Yoga, I will own you! Headstand, you are mine!)
4. Go trapezing. Not sure where yet, I just have strong desire to fly freely through the air, even though I’m scared out of my mind at the thought of climbing up that ladder!
5. Go zip lining. While the idea seems so freeing, I’m scared for the same reasons trapezing scares me.
6. Trek through a rainforest somewhere in SE Asia.
7.  Something having to do with snakes (my BIGGEST fear in life). I won’t just hold a snake to hold a snake. It needs to be something meaningful that actually helps me think about snakes in a new way. I’m open to suggestions so if you have ideas, send them my way.
8. Read more. I used to devour books for fun like it was my job. Then I a few years I ago, I stopped. I find I’m happier when I’m constantly reading for enjoyment and it makes me sad that I read only two books for fun this year. I want to read at least one book a month (hopefully more)!
9. Master knitting. (Once again, this is something I’ve tried to pick up multiple times and give up each time. But I really want to be able to knit presents for people by next Xmas!)

Trying to learn how to knit for the 10th time at our Empowered Women International staff retreat back in 2011.

10.This Canopy walk.
11. Visit an Elephant Sanctuary. Because it just needs to be done. Elephants amaze me.
12.  Work on a project for The Life Adventurista that I’m not quite ready to share yet. Part of working through my fear will be sharing my plans for said project.
13. Go to a Karaoke Bar in KL and SING! (Yikes. I’m so not singer but I feel like this is a must while we are in Asia. Plus, I get super nervous when I’m on stage.)
14. Go on a yoga vacation. I want to really push myself beyond my physical limits. Plus carve out more time to unplug and relax. As of right now, I’m planning on this one! Aruba anyone?
15. Take a cooking class somewhere in SE Asia.
16. Learn Stand-Up Paddle Boarding.
17. Hike Mount Kinabalu.
18. Take learning Spanish seriously and set time aside weekly to practice + practice with Eric. I want to stop being so fearful of mispronouncing every word. I still have nightmares from French class.
19. Go on a two week digital sabbatical. You heard that right, I want to give up my iPad, iPhone, Nook, and Macbook for two weeks. This may be the scariest most terrifying thing on this list. For most of the last five years, I’ve been constantly connected and working, even when I’m on vacation. I’m addicted to being plugged in!!  (P.S. – Don’t freak out Mom. I’ll be with Eric who isn’t going on a digital sabbatical, and he will email you to tell you I am alive!)
20. Go on a solo trip, even if it’s just for one weekend. I mostly travel with the comfort of my forever-partner by my side, which is awesome but traveling alone will really push me out of my comfort zone big time.
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I’ll be sharing my progress, funny stories, and lessons learned along the way. Plus, I’ll be exploring more behind the psychology of fear and courage. If you want to be the first to know about what goes-down, sign up here.

Are you interested in having your very own Year of Adventure in 2013? Are the things in your life you’d love to accomplish next, but fear is holding you back? In honor my upcoming bday and the New Year, I’ll be announcing a very special challenge tomorrow so that you to can join me in choosing to let your inner adventurista run free! The best part is, the challenge is going to be totally FREE. So sign up on this list and you’ll be the first to know!

Here’s what I want you to do in the meantime:

Ask yourself if there are any fears that are limiting you? Are you living as courageously as you can? What is your inner adventurista itching to do? If you were to choose courage and adventure, what comfort-zone breaking, life-changing things would be on your list for 2013? How would your life change if you were to do all the things on your list? I’d love to hear about what you come up with. Leave me a comment or send me an email at Shannon@lifeadventurista.com.

Get ready to say goodbye to unnecessary worry-lines, anxiety, and fear-based limitations. Say hello to adventure, your free-spirit, and courage!

2013 is all about the adventurista, baby.