March to Your Own Drum

As a result of walking the Camino and writing A Million Steps, another door has opened into the world of public speaking. While some people equate this to drinking turpentine, I thrive in the arena and really enjoy connecting with people. I feel a great sense of gratitude in being able to share such an intimate and transformative experience with other people. During the Q-A sessions, a common question is, “What compelled you to take this trip?”

We are all creatures of habit and repetition is the common denominator. We do it once, twice, then zombie through the next gazillion renditions. I often challenge the audience to figure out ways to predict what will happen in their lives over the next 30 days. For most people, the key is to take an inventory of the previous 30 days and it will magically forecast the next month. Think about your food intake. Almost everyone buys the same grocery basket over and over. When visiting frequented restaurants, do you order your same favorite item? In a 30 day window, we are likely to eat the exact same quantity and type of food.

Joe Walsh does a fine job of summarizing my feeling in his song titled Over and Over.

By the time you get started
You´re already through
Just a matter of time till it shows
Like reading the headlines
Yesterday’s news
Over and over

From previous life experiences, I find that the best way to break the routines is to place myself is situations where things are outside of my comfort zones. Walking the Camino was an extreme version of this practice. I put myself in a foreign country, sleeping with strangers in bunk beds, walking, eating a different diet, not connected via cellphone, carrying all my possession on my back, and not really knowing where I would go each day. Autopilot disengages and I had a chance to fly the plane again. For me, personal growth happens in these unfamiliar territories.

Many people want to make changes in their lives, but are afraid to make the leap. Why inflict discomfort when comfort is so……..comforting? From changing careers to dieting, most people stick with what they know. Instead of daydreaming your way to a better life, follow Nike’s advice and just to it. Jump off the high cliff into the water. Fly to the exotic land. Get in front of a group of strangers and share a humbling experience. Scratch your entrepreneurial itch. Make dinner from page 48 of an unknown recipe book.

The key is to make it more difficult to return to what your used to than to march forward into strange, exhilarating, but uncomfortable new areas. The rewards are endless…