For much of our lives we get told what do, how to think, what looks good, what “success” is, how to act in a relationship.
By age 30, I thought I had my life figured out. I reached the top of my construction company, was married, partying and living the life.
You know, the whole work hard, play hard mentality. And then I started thinking – is this my life? Is this really all there is? I was making six figures, yet barely surviving. My marriage was failing, and all I could think was – what’s next?
I began taking ownership of my life, and opened my eyes to more opportunity. I started to eat better, drink less alcohol & really start to take my fitness seriously. With better fuel going into my body, I had more energy to take up new habits, and was ready for any adventures life threw my way.
My wife & I decided to take a chance and put everything we owned in storage and moved to the UK with nothing but 3 suitcases, 2 one way tickets and just 1-week accommodation booked.
These are a few of my main takeaways from our 2-year journey of self-development and adventures.
1. Learning to swim
As a grown man who never spent much time around water, my ego took a big hit.
It took all I had in the beginning to suck it up, do the research, make the calls to find someone to teach me how to swim. There were many opportunities to quit, not show up and blame it on commuting in London.
But I committed to the process, and am that much stronger for it.
2. Riding a bike to commute to work everyday
Through Central London and Westminster, past Big Ben and Parliament.
This experience brought back memories from growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Our meals were very meat and potatoes, nothing fancy but fuel to get back to work. I remember the HP sauce bottle was always handy, it was Dad’s favourite.
The bottle has a silhouette of Big Ben on it, every time I rode past it always put a smile on my face and seemed surreal for a young farm kid to be actually living in the big city.
3. Travel has become way more of an adventure
Rather than the typical hotel, tourist restaurant and visiting the main crowded beaches, we have discovered and taken advantage of staying off the main grid and exploring areas more as locals.
There is so much more to see and experience: from a long river boat stay in Cambridge UK or a yurt in Amsterdam, to a cabin on the coast of Iceland or a townhouse with a brand new baby (I mean just days old) with their traditional Chinese grandparents there to look after her.
It’s been crazy, but so much more exciting than laying on a beach all day at inclusive resorts.
4. Learning to surf in Portugal
For something that looks so easy, it was very hard and frustrating – much like learning to golf.
But nothing can explain the feeling when you finally stand up and ride your first wave.
From not being able to swim, to riding waves in the Atlantic all because I took a chance, made a choice and took the steps to get there.
5. Reading & Writing
I ain’t never wrote good!! Like anything in life the more you do it and practice, the better and more confident you become.
I find myself getting lost in it these days. I’ll jot down notes whenever they come to me, then I’ll sit down and piece them together and fill in the gaps. It’s a real “flow” experience for me.
I feel like I’m actually doing something productive now when I read. It requires some work on your end, but the benefits are priceless.
All this, coming from a guy who used to play video games and watch tv in my spare time.
6. Stand up comedy
Take the fear of public speaking and times it by 10!
It’s easy for me to be funny around people and play off of conversations but when it comes to making my own jokes and gags, that changes everything.
So many times during the process of doing my stand up gig I had to battle my self-talk. It was telling me that it’s okay to quit, at least you got this far, no one will blame you if you don’t do it. But I got through all that and I’m still alive and better for it.
7. Being on a podcast
Words can’t describe how surreal it feels to be riding a bike in Central London listening to yourself being interviewed on a podcast.
Talking about what gets me out of bed everyday, helping people develop into the person they deserve to be and can be. I
had to stop halfway through my trip and pinch myself to see if it was real. We really can do things we never thought possible, it’s about following the process and using the right tools.
8. Driving through Iceland with Laura
We had no agenda, no real plans. No stress, just open roads and open minds.
Walking on the coastline with sheep and horses around us. Swimming in a natural hot spring on our 6th wedding anniversary. Seeing geysers shoot into the air with steaming hot water.
Really living the moment, not consumed with the future or the past.
9. An Ayahuasca retreat
I learned so much about myself in those 3 ceremonies.
Ayahuasca (which translates to “vine of the soul”) when the vine is mixed with certain leaves and cooked into a (foul-tasting) tea, it becomes a hallucinogenic medicine with unbelievable effects.
An ayahuasca experience is often described as 10 years of therapy condensed into a single night. Knowing that we create our own worlds stands out to me as my biggest lesson.
My ego is now starting to take a bit of a back seat. I mean it is still there and it always will be. But I now recognise it, and can work with it.
This is an ongoing lesson. I don’t think the battle will ever stop. I’m ok with being in vulnerable situations and can accept my weaknesses instead of avoiding them.
Big change from the closed off, hard construction worker that I used to be.
We all have the power to choose who we are and to do whatever we want to do. You’re not helping anyone by playing small & never doing what your heart truly wants to.
Playing it safe, doing what other people want us to do, or what we think people want us to do, leads us down a path of regret.
I do not share all of this with you to impress you. I’m sharing it to impress upon you that if you want things to change in your life, then you need to have 20 seconds of insane courage and make a decision to make it happen.
Life is too short to sit around doing mind-numbing activities, staying stuck in a job or a relationship that you hate, or just putting off your dreams for “a rainy day.”
Go and out make it happen now, for that’s all we’re guaranteed in this life.
Michael LaRocque is a relationship coach, blogger, and lover of life. He reached the ceiling as a blue collar worker & realised there must be more to life. When he’s not practicing and experimenting with his new love of writing, he’s most likely travelling with his wife Laura and finding new ways to challenge himself. You can visit him at www.LaRocqueLife.com.