find your path

The Soul-Freeing Art of Exploration

I have news for you: nobody that has ever changed the world knew exactly how they would do it when they started.

I hope this provides you some sort of relief:

Steve Jobs’ work with Apple has transformed itself thousands of times over the course of the company’s existence.

The team behind the first mission to the moon wasn’t sure what their rockets would end up looking like until they started testing them.

The groups that created incredible non-profits innovated their programs and services as they found out more about the communities that needed their help.

Every step in the plan wasn’t set in stone at the beginning. The path was created as they went along.

Why Exploration Matters

I’m a dreamer. You are, too, aren’t you?

The problem with being a dreamer is that all the projects we dream about seem daunting. We want to change the world, follow our dreams, and pursue our passions — the stuff of fairytales and Never-never land — but we’re not sure how to make them happen.

But are these endeavors really as far off as they seem?

About a year and a half ago, I quit my job to start my own business in an industry I thoroughly enjoy — but that hasn’t been the most exciting thing I’ve discovered.

During my time living what I call a “perpetual vacation”, I’ve meet hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dreamers from all over the world. Meeting these incredibly people at conferences and online, I’ve come to realize that I am not alone in my desire to explore.

Allow me to explain.

From my experience meeting dreamers from all over the world, I think there are two types of people in the world:

  1. People who create meaningful projects
  2. People who want to — but don’t

Don’t get me wrong — neither group is better or worse than the other. I know so many people who create amazing projects, and I also know a lot of people who want to but just can’t seem to get it done.

The only distinction between the two groups is this: some people start, and some people don’t. Starting is the one thing standing between them.

If all we have to do is start, why don’t more of us do it?

There’s a deep-seated fear out there telling us that we can’t start until we have every single detail mapped out and accounted for. Without a concrete plan and an end goal in mind, it’s as if we don’t give ourselves permission to start.

In my conversations with people who really do create meaningful projects, I noticed that this fear exists — but they act anyway, they start anyway, they EXPLORE.

Starting doesn’t mean you know the end. Starting means exploring to find it.

Opening Up to Exploration — Your Action Plan

The beauty in exploring is not just starting your dream, but it’s altering that dream in the process. The beauty is in being open to seeing what will happen, where the world will meet you, and what opportunities present themselves as you go along.

The beauty in exploring is relieving yourself of the pressure to perform and enjoying the process instead.

I’ve done my fair share of exploring over the past year and a half, and I’ve figured out a way to keep myself relatively free of guilt and focused on the process at hand. I’ll share three of my top tactics below, and I’ll also be giving away a free resource at the bottom of this post if you want more.

1. Write down your list of ideas. This means jotting down every single option you’ve considered in the past. The trick here is to NOT JUDGE your ideas, and simply jot them down — no matter how crazy they may seem. Give yourself the freedom to hold space for each of your ideas by writing them down on paper.

Exploration = what you dream about doing

2. Recognize your fears. Once you have your ideas written down in front of you, your mind will start fighting you to discredit each and every one. You’ll have thoughts like, “Well, that’s impossible because of ____.” Your mind will do its best to use doubt and fear to judge each idea into absolution, so do your best to ignore those fears. The best way to do that is to write down your fears next to each idea. (Please include the fears that are less obvious but more important, like whether or not you feel you can pull it off or whether or not you’ll be judged by your family.)

➜ Exploration = your self-restraint and self-knowledge

3. Choose what feels best. This may seem like the hard part, but I find that most people gravitate toward a few options on their list pretty quickly. The important thing is to be honest with yourself at this point — the project you’re called to the most won’t necessarily have an “end goal” or clear-cut strategy for huge heaps of money yet. You may not even know what exactly you want to do with that project, but it’s calling to you. All I ask is that you give yourself the permission to grab its hand and see where it’ll lead you.

➜ Exploration = your hope for what could be

I know this sounds easier said than done, and I will be the first to admit that it takes great bravery to walk into the land of the unknown and do something for FUN — all because society has conditioned us all to follow strict rules of profitability and success.

You know what? To hell with that. For once, let’s just explore and have some fun while doing it.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments! If you’re interested in reading a free resource to help you explore some more, you can grab it over here. 

BIO = When Marcella Chamorro decided to quit her job to live a perpetual vacation, she created a meaningful and exciting lifestyle (including traveling and speaking at a TEDx event). As an author & entrepreneur based in Nicaragua, Marcella is embarking on a one month challenge to redesign her life to be even more awesome — follow along here.

  • Adi

    Inspiring post Marcella..Straight to our heart.Every human being longing for the adventures, thrills and new experience inside their soul, But fear, contemplation, over anlysis has paralyzed us. There is one thing I’ve been procrastinate over the years, to restart my own business in farming and living in nature. I have commited that I will not delay those dreams anymore..Thanks for the post. Realy encouraging :)

    • http://www.theperpetualvacation.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Thank you, Adi, for being part of the encouragement we all need to keep going and to explore.

  • http://scottbold.com/ Scott Bold

    Marcella,

    I really enjoyed your post. I can relate to exactly what you are talking about, however, I am only 4 months into my journey.

    The decision to leave my job and pursue a life of exploration was a difficult one. I had to convince myself that walking away from a six figure job with guaranteed advancement and embarking on a life with no guarantees was the right thing to do.

    For me, what helped the most was going through a process of self reflection like you start to discuss in this article. I spent a long time listing out my dreams for life and trying to figure out why I was unfulfilled at my job.

    What really sealed the deal for me was figuring out what I valued in life and who I really wanted to be. Once I knew that, making the decision to leave something unfulfilling, no matter how lucrative it was, turned out to be easy.

    I wrote a small guide to the process I used on my blog.

    Anyways, thanks for the post and good luck in your future endeavors. :)

    • http://www.theperpetualvacation.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Thanks, Scott — I definitely agree that the first step (the fundamental of it all) is self-knowledge and self-awareness, which is what your reflection afforded you. Glad to hear you’re well on your way!

    • Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas

      “What really sealed the deal for me was figuring out what I valued in
      life and who I really wanted to be. Once I knew that, making the
      decision to leave something unfulfilling, no matter how lucrative it
      was, turned out to be easy.”

      This is amazing.

  • http://www.barefootbeginnings.net/ Tina Williamson

    I loved this post! Very inspiring and it rings very true for me. I also feel that there is a huge gap between those that start something and those that continue to follow through with it when the going gets tough. I feel like that is when we especially need to silence the fear and get persevering.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.theperpetualvacation.com/ Marcella Chamorro

      Thanks, Tina! Today, on a day when I don’t feel like following through, you’ve inspired me to persevere. :)

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  • Rick

    Great article. I agree there are people that are still at he starting line (me) and never take off. I remember a seminar I went to a few years back and I will always remember this. The speaker had divided us into our personality types. I remember him talking about the “A” types and then my Type – The Teddy Bears. The big thing he said which has stuck with me is my personality type is always “waiting for their ship to come in and it never does”! So true. As much as I try to build a dingy to get out to the boat I get hung up on what type of boat and then end goal.
    I think the other issue people have is waiting for some divine intervention or mother nature. Maybe this is the hand you are dealt and you need to make the best of it?! I really feel we are masters of our own destiny! Just like the choose your own adventure books. Just make a decision or a step towards something.
    I have found that everytime I make a leap or get uncomfortable with something dealing with my photography business something great happens. But sitting at home and doing nothing yields nothing.
    I could talk about this for days! I have struggled to get out to my dingy for years! I have just decided to stop waiting for signs or divine intervention. Just go get and see what happens… Like I said everytime I take a small leap something good seems to happen!
    Keep up the great Blog!
    Rick

  • Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas

    This is a fantastic post, Marcella. I’m off to go spend an hour doing the exercise you outlined here. I haven’t allowed time to myself to slow down and reflect in way too long. Thank you!