The 12-hour walk was definitely the kick in the butt I needed to change my life. Only 4 months after completing my walk, I can see so much growth and change.
How it started
For a year I lived in a fog of depression. I am unsure if my depression stemmed from a devastating career blow, decades of running from trauma, or a long line of whacky genetics. Honestly, it was from all 3 plus many more factors that are too long to list. (Sidenote – As the child of 2 addicts who suffer(ed) from deep depression, I have anxiety. For the past 15 years, I have taken medication. The medication for anxiety is the same as for depression. However, I have never considered myself depressed.)
One morning in October, I was out for a walk listening to The Ed Mylett Show. His guest on the show was Colin O’Brady. Colin shared some outrageous adventure stories and something in his voice and his story struck a chord in me.
On the podcast, he promoted his new book, The 12-Hour Walk. I felt a rush of motivation and energy! I called a friend and told her about the podcast and my intention to do a 12-hour walk. She thought I was crazy. BINGO! I must be getting back to my normal crazy self 🙂 I went on my Amazon app and bought the book immediately.
“O’Brady is a master class in athleticism, resilience, and human potential” – Hoda Kotb, NBC’s Today
As I read the book I realized we all have the potential to be and do so much more…IF we get out of our own way. Our thoughts are what hold us back. I kept reading and the fog started to clear. My motivation was bursting.
However, motivation and enthusiasm won’t get you anywhere unless you start implementing change. I had to take the information I was reading and put it into action.
First Implementation: Getting Out of My Comfort Zone
“Growth happens outside the comfort zone” – Colin O’Brady
Colin measures his days on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the worst day and 10 being the highest of highs. He believes you can’t experience a 10 without first experiencing a 1. Then there is the “zone of complacency”, which ranks somewhere between 4 and 6. This is where most of us spend our days.
This zone of complacency is what most of us know as our comfort zone. I also think it is the zone we stay in trying to be ‘normal’ and fit in. When we take a risk outside our comfort zone, we open ourselves up to criticism and judgment.
For the past year, I felt I had compromised myself out of fear of other’s criticisms. I was ready to break free of these chains and soar! I was ready to move out of my comfort zone.
In order to make the change, I needed to make a change in my day-to-day. I committed to doing one thing every day out of my normal routine. These weren’t grand adventures, instead, they were small steps daily. Here are a few of the things I did that you can do too:
- Went to an evening networking event
- Drove across town after work to go on a walk and watch the sunset
- Made a meal by actually following a recipe
- Drove a different route to the office
Each day I felt the fog lift. My energy was renewed. I was excited to find different things to do on a daily basis. Slowly I also felt the concern of criticism start to fade. My mind raced with possibilities again.
Second Implementation: Taking a 12-hour Walk
Yeah, I really walked 12 hours! It isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Who am I kidding – it is pretty crazy.
The idea for the 12-hour walk is for you to reconnect with YOU. No phones, no music, no companions, just you and your thoughts for 12 hours. Breaks are absolutely allowed. You don’t actually have to walk the entire time but you have to be alone for 12 hours outdoors reflecting. You can take your phone to record your thoughts and/or for safety reasons but that is it. No texting, checking emails, or updating your status on social media. For the full list of instructions check out the website.
I was a little worried about this commitment at first, which meant I was successfully pushing myself outside my comfort zone. In order to prepare, I started with a 6-hour practice walk. It is important to map out your route, have comfortable walking shoes, and make sure you have plenty of water and food.
My practice walk made me realize that I needed to start and stop from my house. I didn’t want to get in a car and try to drive after walking for 12 hours. Also, my route needed to take me by restrooms and locations where I could refuel with food and water if necessary.
Lessons Learned from My 12-Hour Walk
On January 2nd, 2023 I went off on my 12-hour adventure. This is what I learned:
- I can do anything I set my mind to
- Goals are accomplished by taking mundanely simple steps
- You have to do what you need to do before you can do what you want to do
- Focus is a practice and I am way out of practice. I am addicted to distractions.
- I am sometimes overly goal-oriented. This prevents me from enjoying the journey.
- I tend to turn everything into a competition with myself. I caught myself trying to calculate the number of miles and steps I was actually taking instead of focusing on my thoughts.
- Don’t stop short. If you commit to 12 hours, go 12 hours, not 11 hours, 30 minutes. Go the distance.
- And just because this one is so important, I will state it twice – I can do anything I set my mind to.
Third Implementation: 29029 Everesting
Chapter 9 of The 12-Hour Walk introduced me to an adventure called 29029 Everesting. This is an event for people to hike the vertical equivalent of Mount Everest without having to actually climb Mount Everest. It is an organized event that has grown into 5 locations throughout the US annually.
As I read about 29029, the community of people, and the physical push, I was ready to commit. Unfortunately, registration wasn’t open for 2 more months! I signed up to be notified about registration opportunities and set a reminder on my calendar.
I knew this was the push I needed to move out of my comfort zone. The day the registration opened, I took the plunge and signed up for Sun Valley 29029. This adventure will require me to hike up the ski resort 15 times, which equates to 24 miles and 29029 vertical feet in a 36-hour period.
As I write this post, the event is approximately 6 weeks away (June 8-11, 2023). Every day is a push as I train for the event. It is physical and mental. I am scared and nervous but I know that life doesn’t happen sitting in your comfort zone. We only get to live our potential when we take a risk outside of our “zone of complacency”.
“Security is a place where failure doesn’t exist because risk isn’t involved” – Rachel Sartain Tenpenny
- Learning something new is great but nothing changes unless you implement it. Practice what you learn daily by implementing it into your conversations and daily routines.
- Security is a myth. You can’t live a life absent of failure, criticisms, or judgments. You can not experience growth without risk and without failure. Without growth who are we?
- Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone doesn’t have to be an audacious adventure. Change happens one awkward step at a time.
- You can do anything you set your mind to do!
Anyone who has ever achieved anything had to overcome obstacles and hardships along their path. These are the LESSONS of the UNSTOPPABLE ones. Unstoppable Lessons shares the skills, techniques, and mindset necessary to face the challenges of our professional and personal lives. If we embrace the lessons and practice them, excuses will no longer have a place in our lives.
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