“Not all those who wander are lost.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
The personal adventure has had many names given to it in the past. Be it Homer’s classic Odyssey. Or the transcending of personal limitations in George Lucas’s Star Wars character, Luke Skywalker.
It has also been called the following:
- Heroine or hero’s Journey
- Personal Adventure
- The Path
There is a pattern to the quest stories. If you have not paid much attention to it, here is how it goes.
Everything is going all right for the character and things are just getting along. There is a huge yearning for something different, something great.
There is a feeling that life is so much more.
This is the “everything is fine in the beautiful Shire” part of the blockbuster movie, Lord Of The Rings, originally written by JRR Tolkien.
Then something happens. Either intentionally or inadvertently, the main character gets drawn into a great adventure.
The problem appears impossible to conquer and things look bleak.
This is the part where the hobbits are drawn into the fellowship of the ring and Frodo agrees to take on the quest.
Then many adventures follow and the main characters get molded and transformed by the nature of the quest.
They become bigger than life by transcending limitations, fears, and other beliefs.
This part forms most of the movie series of the Lord of the Rings where the characters battle seemingly unsurmountable foes and forces.
And finally, when everything seems to be lost, another twist happens.
Our characters, underdogs they might be, finally deliver on the promise of the fulfillment of the quest.
Of course, they are able to do so after getting transformed into a force of good change in their own lives and also in the lives of others.
Sounds familiar? Well, many stories use this format of what Joseph Campbell called The Hero’s Quest.
Even if we relegate great adventures to movies, we can still take some advice from them and apply it in our own quest.
Make no mistake. Your life and your struggles towards making an impact for yourself or for others in your life are nothing short of a great quest.
They are a heroine’s journey with you as the protagonist at the center of things. It is your own story to script as you choose.
On your quest:
- Even of you are not slaying real dragons, you are transcending metaphorical dragons in the form of limitations.
- You are continually faced with your deepest fears like Luke Skywalker did in the movie, The Empire Strikes Back.
- You may not see the classic quest story above but you face formidable setbacks and failures that you have to get past.
- Your quest may look like ups and downs or like the waves of an ocean.
- You may discover new aspects and strengths that you never knew existed.
- You may also uncover weaknesses that you did not know existed.
What are some motivating and inspiring ideas that you can take along with you on your unique quest?
Let us begin:
1. Eagerness And Enthusiasm On The Quest
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”― Eleanor Roosevelt
Your enthusiasm defines your attitude on the quest. Like Jim Rohn once said that we should try to become millionaires not to become rich but to gather the experience that task would lead us through.
It takes discipline and perseverance to make, keep and manage finances.
Ask yourself if you are willing to embrace and still maintain the enthusiasm for the ups and downs that are inevitable on your quest.
In psychology, we call this intrinsic motivation. No amount of dangling carrots or rewards will make you get up after repeated failures. Only a deeply burning passion of enthusiasm can keep you focused on your quest.
Extrinsic motivation and rewards are good on the short run. But for the long run, you need to have a great reason and enthusiasm to come back to and get inspired from.
Are you willing to gather new experiences?
Psychology has repeatedly shown that the initial happiness, well-being and a feeling of thriving are important to personal success.
Are you willing to keep the eagerness and enthusiasm alive?
2. The Justification
“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures
Are you always trying to justify your quest to others, pitching the perfect elevator pitch?
Are you always being apologetic for your story, for being you?
Are you trying to run your quest and your brilliant ideas through so many people that someone ultimately knocks it off the pedestal?
I am here to tell you that you do not need to take permission from everyone for your quest.
But, guess who is the only person who needs to be in agreement and onboard?
Yes, you guessed it. Yourself.
Of course, you will need to have a few core people around you on board also. Great journeys and quests are not usually completed alone.
But when you believe strongly in something, people have a way to coming back around to support you. Especially if they care about you.
So jump into your adventures and leave the explanations as entertaining stories along the way.
“Everything you possess of skill, and wealth, and handicraft, wasn’t it first merely a thought and a quest?” ― Rumi
3. The Late Bloomers
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.”― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin
Some of us are late bloomers. Many people simply give up and throw in the towel in the lack of any results.
They say that they are too old, too tired, too sad, too…you fill in the blanks.
But they do not pay attention to the idea that late bloomers take their own time to become masterful.
Of course, we all know the names of famous people who have been late bloomers. But their struggles are vastly ignored. The fact that they worked long and lonely hours honing their skills is not attractive as a story.
Here are some late bloomers if you need inspiration:
Julia Child, the famous chef was a writer and joined the Le Cordon Blue in Paris in her late thirties. Child was 50 when she hosted her first cooking show.
Harlan David Sanders, also known as Colonel Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken company at the age of 65. Colonel Sanders had many jobs including salesman and farmer. Only in his forties did he begin selling his chicken dinners at a service station.
Over the decades that followed, he perfected his special chicken recipe and the rest is history.
Stories of late bloomers inspire us and thrill our imagination. They are also a testimony to the fact that you can be on your quest for a while before you get the fruits of your labor.
4. A sense of Willingness and Allowing: Being Flexible
“I am always in quest of being open to what the universe will bring me.”― Jill Bolte Taylor
Slowly but surely, they train themselves out of risk and to stay in their zones of comfort.
If something unpredictable happens, they flee and quit and rush to come back to the status quo.
That is not how a great quest goes. A great quest means stepping into the unknown and allowing yourself to become vulnerable to the twists.
So, leave the shorelines and set sail on your quest. Remember that a great ship was never built to remain tethered in the dock, anchored down.
It is supposed to ride the waves of fortune on the rough seas of life.
5. Confronting Your Deepest Fears
“You enter the forest at the darkest point, where there is no path. Where there is a way or path, it is someone else’s path. You are not on your own path. If you follow someone else’s way, you are not going to realize your potential.” ― Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work
The very word makes us uncomfortable. The idea that you have to confront deep-seated fears is not appealing.
It always helps to put the fear in the proper perspective.
Everyone has fears, even the greatest adventurers. But how we process and deal with the fears is different.
If we decide that the uncomfortable feeling of fear is greater than the excitement of being on the quest, we may quit.
In the movie, The Empire Strikes Back, the apprentice Jedi warrior and student Luke Skywalker is instructed to enter a cave by Master Yoda.
In this cave, he has to confront his worst fears and nightmares. In a sense, the cave serves as a metaphor or a reflection to the fears that lie beneath the surface. Fears that we must all confront on a courageous quest.
Skywalker has to go through this test before he can proceed in his training as a Jedi master.
The dialogue goes:
“In you must go”-Master Yoda.
“What is in there?”- Skywalker
“Only what you take with you.” – Master Yoda
Inside the cave, Skywalker confronts his nemesis.
In a fit of fear and anger, Skywalker chops off the head of the apparition of his greatest fear, the evil sith lord, Darth Vader.
The cave is a metaphor for our imaginative fears that confront us on every dark corner of our lives, challenging us, mocking us.
In fact, fear and excitement are inseparable. Fritz Perls of Gestalt Therapy says that fear is excitement without the breath. We take shallow breaths when we are afraid.
We make and imagine the metaphorical foes to be greater than they are. We construct mountains of fear out of molehills.
What is the best way through the fear?
- Ask others who have gone through a similar journey.
- Keep going through the fear by taking action.
- Enlist the support of a few great cheerleaders and supporters.
- Stop overthinking and over analysis.
- Take some deep breaths and do something that makes you relaxed.
- Focus on the accomplishment and great feelings of going through the fear.
- Tap into the last time you transcended a fear. Did you feel great?
“Peter was not quite like other boys; but he was afraid at last. A tremor ran through him, like a shudder passing over the sea; but on the sea one shudder follows another till there are hundreds of them, and Peter felt just the one. Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.”― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
6. Follow Your Bliss, At Least Part-Time
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”- Joseph Campbell
I know, I know. Follow your bliss or follow your passion has become a cliché. It is similar to when people say “awesome” and they just mean it as a word filler.
Now many of us scoff at the idea of following a passion. We feel stuck in our jobs but have to make a living.
But I believe what this means is that it is never too late to follow a bliss. When Campbell said “follow your bliss,” I believe he meant it in a practical, learning skills kind of way.
So, instead of making following a bliss only into a metaphysical idea, let us make it concrete.
- What are the skills that you need to follow your bliss?
- How can you practice and hone your skills even if it part time?
- If you are a want to be artist, carve out time to paint even if for a small amount of time.
- If you come alive around photography, learn a new skill every other day and master it.
- Ask what are you doing with your spare time? Do you have a bliss to follow but you are unwilling to do the work?
- Be willing to engage in deep practice at the edge of your comfort level. Often this means doing the things that you actively avoid.
Remember your bliss is not all lollipops and sunshine. Your quest of your bliss will have significant challenges to overcome. Ironically, this quality gives you a meaningful pursuit.
“But if a person has had the sense of the Call — the feeling that there’s an adventure for him — and if he doesn’t follow that, but remains in the society because it’s safe and secure, then life dries up. And then he comes to that condition in late middle age: he’s gotten to the top of the ladder, and found that it’s against the wrong wall.
If you have the guts to follow the risk, however, life opens, opens, opens up all along the line. I’m not superstitious, but I do believe in spiritual magic, you might say. I feel that if one follows what I call one’s bliss — the thing that really gets you deep in your gut and that you feel is your life — doors will open up. They do! They have in my life and they have in many lives that I know of.”-Joseph Campbell
7. Become a Relentless Explorer
“In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.”― Ansel Adams
There are many ways to look at your quest and your personal journey.
One of these ways is through the lens of fatigue and cynicism.
Another is to look at it from the lens of a lack of opportunity and excuses.
While we have our own reasons for all our justifications, it may be best to look beyond them in the horizon.
Whether you do well or you do poorly, consider it an exploration.
Remind yourself that you are knowing things better.
You have the mind, heart and the spirit of an explorer in your own quest.
You are open to new experiences and learning from them.
You do not get tempted to judge experiences as good and bad and dismiss them. Instead you maintain an open minded focus.
Even if you are not curious by nature, maintain a healthy curiosity for your quest.
8. Campbell’s Three Positions
“The image that comes to mind is a boxing ring. There are times when…you just want that bell to ring, but you’re the one who’s losing. The one who’s winning doesn’t have that feeling. Do you have the energy and strength to face life? Life can ask more of you than you are willing to give. And then you say, ‘Life is not something that should have been. I’m not going to play the game. I’m going to meditate. I’m going to call “out”.’
There are three positions possible. One is the up-to-it, and facing the game and playing through. The second is saying, Absolutely not. I don’t want to stay in this dogfight. That’s the absolute out. The third position is the one that says, This is mixed of good and evil. I’m on the side of the good. I accept the world with corrections. And may [the world] be the way I like it. And it’s good for me and my friends. There are only the three positions.”― Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell on His Life & Work
When I became aware of the three positions that Campbell was talking about, I could place my journey in a new context.
In the past, I have bailed on individual components of the journey when things got tough. I thought things ought to come easier. I had the classic “fixed mindset.”
And then we have expectations over the roof.
When the journey does not fulfill on results, we get disappointed and disillusioned.
If you are aligned on the right journey, one of the most powerful nemesis that you will face is unrealistic expectations.
You will face the dragons of “I am better than this” and “things ought to come easier to me.”
You will make apples to oranges type comparisons with others to justify your position of not going through with the journey.
The other choice is to quit just before the turn of the tide. And soon this quitting becomes a habit.
Of course, sometimes when you are aligned with the wrong quest, your ladder on the wrong wall, it is best to give up and begin anew.
Finally, you have the choice of a mixed position, One where you know that you do not have to quit or go through with a fixed idea.
This is a choice where you accept what comes to you and make lemonade with the lemons. In other words, you improvise and give the wiggle room to change directions.
You do not have great expectations that are bound to collapse, but you are willing to accept the best case scenario. You make the best of the deck that you have been dealt.
9. Try and Try Again: The Art Of Trying
“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”― Danny Kaye
This cannot be overemphasized. You have to throw all the paint that you can on the canvas of your life.
You have to be willing to engage and see what sticks.
Most people fail at this because they try the same things a few times and then think that their quest was leaning against the wrong wall.
But as Einstein says correctly that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
To get a different result, you need to change up the hypothesis a little.
- You have to be willing to try different things.
- You have to be willing to be wrong.
- You have to develop the intuition of when to pursue and when to change things.
- You have to be willing to learn new ways.
- You have to be willing to learn from mentors and people who have their own quests.
- Get honest feedback and learn about your own pitfalls and blinders.
- Change the way you look at things.
For example, you can make an e-book and place it online to sell it.
But if you have no takers, you can improvise it into an online course on a platform like Udemy.
If that does not work, you can try to coach people locally in your skills.
The point is that you have to throw enough paint on the wall to see what sticks and what falls off.
One failed e-book does not make you the failure that you may think you are.
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”― G.K. Chesterton
10. The Attitude Of Action And Easing Up
“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.” ― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
What is your dominant attitude on your quest?
You may feel tired, defeated and sullen today but do you have the confidence to go at it again tomorrow? Or have you made universal assumptions about yourself?
Are you willing to prime the pump and jump in even when you do not have the evidence that things are going well?
Many people think that they need to get inspired or motivated before they take action. And of course, they have to wait a very long time.
Like the Chinese proverb advises, the person who expects a roast duck to fly into their mouths will have to wait a long time.
So, do you take action and then find motivation and inspiration?
Or do you expect, even demand to get inspired before you begin to move?
Have an attitude of hope and action.
“And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before–and thus was the Empire forged.”― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
11. Looking Within, Not Just Without
“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.”― George Eliot
Often, we look outside for the adventure and the quest. But we forget the universal secret that deep within every one of us lie the seeds of adventure.
- Deep within us lies the spirit of perseverance and of personal power.
- Within us lies the secret of engagement and action.
- Within us lies the secret of how far we are willing to go on our quest.
“Adventure is a need.”― Toba Beta
Every time when something goes wrong, you have to look for reserves of power and adventure within.
Of course, external conditions assist us on our quest. But what we look and project into the world is often a reflection of our deepest beliefs and ideals.
So ask yourself if you feel the deep need to explore your quest and discover new horizons?
- Have the winds of change and circumstances fatigued you into never leaving the shorelines?
- Are you willing to engage or do you feel disconnected?
- Do you feel personally replenished or do you feel burnt out?
- What are some of the personal care structures that you have in place to assist burnout and giving up?
“I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure”― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
12. The Secret To The Quest: Moving forward And Holding On
“The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they’re always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.”― Norman Rockwell
Are you excited to move forward? I believe that in that one question lies the secret of your forward momentum.
You may be scared and hesitant.
But if your sum total of curiosity and enthusiasm and excitement surpass your hesitation, forward motion is inevitable.
If you have to constantly drag yourself into following new steps in your quest, you need to find a new one.
Find work and skills and hobbies that excite you and make you curious and interested.
– Negative conditioning
– Unsupportive beliefs
– Victim mentality
= Positive or Negative?
If your sum total is always negative then you may not see much forward momentum.
But if you maintain some excitement and enthusiasm and find new ways to breathe life into your quest, you are moving forward.
You are excited and engaged and you look forward to the next step.
If you feel a lack of energy and enthusiasm, perhaps it is time to redirect and find what matters to you in this point of your journey.
Either way, I commend you on your journey wherever you are at.
Please let me know in the comments below or on social media on the details and challenges of your personal quest.