With all adventures, be they great journeys or creative pursuits, it is vitally important to have a drive. Without a drive, one’s heart and soul are not in the adventure itself and it will not be enjoyable or rewarding.
Last year, I hypothesised on cycling to Korea. I had already cycled to Slovakia, rafted to Hungary, and as someone who enjoys cycling, I said I would just keep going east… all the way across the biggest continent in the world: a somewhat ambitious concept. The problem with this journey, was that my heart was not in it. I could just as easily fly to Korea and buy a bike there. So that’s exactly what I did.
Because of this, I started asking myself, what is the point of an adventure? I came up with two simple solutions:
- To enjoy it
- To prove that I can
Enjoyment means that you are genuinely happy doing what you do. It is fairly self-explanatory. Proving that you can do something however, could be a challenge to yourself or it could be something as big as attempting a world record. When you have this aim, it keeps you going through the difficult times.
If an adventure does not fulfil at least one of these two categories, it is not worth doing because it has fallen into the category of nothing more than survival.
In 2012, I hitchhiked around Europe for six months. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes I didn’t enjoy it, but many times I was extremely happy. I kept going for both those happy times and to prove to myself that I could do it. Then I wrote a book about it which was a whole new kind of adventure.
Cycling from Korea to Japan in 2014, I felt my safety was at risk and I was lost: this drained all personal enjoyment from my journey. I wasn’t proving a point to anyone as I have done longer bike rides, so I realised that my journey had become pointless. Thus neither of my criteria were fulfilled, so I stopped. Instead, I took a bus, then cycled in Japan where I felt much safer and had one of the best bike rides of my life. My adventure had a point once more.
Next time you’re planning an adventure, ask yourself, what is the point of this adventure? How much are you willing to put into it? Are you doing it for enjoyment, to prove that you can, or a combination of them both? When you have neither, that is when it is time to give up. Sometimes knowing when to give up can be as important as having the resolve to carry on.