Wonder what a lifestyle of adventure looks like? With a love of the great outdoors and pushing her limits, Anna Blackwell has built her life around adventure. Some of her major expeditions include trekking across the wilderness of arctic Sweden, walking 500 and 1000 miles across France and Spain along ancient pilgrimage routes, and kayaking 4,000km from London to the Black Sea.
Anna came on the Tough Girl podcast and shared the evolution of her adventure lifestyle from Uni to now becoming a full-time adventurer. She gave us a peek into the mindset and experiences of several major adventures and those day-to-day adventures that together make this unique lifestyle.
Choose it For Yourself
A life of adventure was something Anna was attracted to in part because it was something she could choose for herself. Anna wasn’t told it was something she should do or had to complete in order to be successful. It was 100% her own desire and choice.
One of Anna’s experiences during a gap year involved a very difficult trek in Costa Rica. When it was over, Anna cried not out of relief, but out of sadness that the adventure was over. The newly experienced hiker found that she liked living out of a rucksack and doing something different every day.
This experience broadened her horizons and her own beliefs of what she thought herself capable of doing. Anna later went back to Uni and had a fantastic four years, figuring out what she wanted to do with her life in between going on adventures during the holidays.
Pursue the Uncomfortable
After walking 500 miles along ancient pilgrimage route, Anna decided it hadn’t been long enough or challenging enough and felt the desire to do more. One summer while her peers were getting internships, Anna felt the call to do the entire 1,000 miles of pilgrimage routes.
This particular trek was quite popular. Anna knew there would be a well-marked path, plenty of hostels, and lots of people around. People who’d completed the trek were supportive and wanted to share their advice. So Anna didn’t have to do much planning and spent her time packing.
The highlight of this trek for Anna was seeing the sunrise every day for five weeks. She quickly settled in to walking all day and spending most of her hours outdoors. Through this experience, Anna began to learn that she enjoys being uncomfortable and challenging herself in new ways.
Embrace Your Own Pace
Through the physically challenging sections of the trek, Anna would look down at her feet and try not to focus on how far away the end goal was. She’d tell herself if she’d get to the next rock, she’d get a break.
Anna appreciated the chance to do the trek on her own. She enjoyed setting her own goals for the end of the day and not having the pressure to match someone else’s pace.
On tough climbs, Anna knew there would be a fantastic view at the top. Those panoramic views were Anna’s favourite. With each steep step, she told herself that the views were going to be more than worth it.
Remove All Luxuries
For Anna’s next big adventure, she decided to embrace her Swedish roots and trek in the remote wilderness of Sweden. In her pilgrimage trek, Anna had the luxury of stopping for coffee in town, befriending other hikers, taking a hot shower and sleeping in a warm bed every night. Not so, in the remote Swedish wilderness.
Anna specifically wanted to get away from all the luxury of previous adventures and experience herself. “I wanted to see what I was like by myself for a really extended period of time,” Anna explained.
On this Swedish trek, Anna didn’t take an audiobook or music. She wanted to be present every moment. If she felt lonely, she wanted to process that loneliness. Anna certainly got the alone time she desired. She spent days trekking with only reindeer for company. But surprisingly, Anna didn’t feel lonely at all.
Anna thought she would find it really hard putting a tent up and cooking food after trekking for 8 hours, but she loved it. She found it invigorating to sit in her tent and watch the sunset and sunrise.
Keep Finding New Things
To keep up a lifestyle of adventure, it’s important to always pursue the new. Because Anna doesn’t get much out of backpacking anymore, she knows she needs to do something different to challenge herself. She wants to do things to see a place in a different way.
This adventure attitude involves more than major expeditions. Anna makes it a point to go on lots of small adventures and have an adventure mindset every single day. This includes waking instead of taking the bus and taking off during lunch breaks to the green parts of the city. Anna pushes herself out of her comfort zone by doing new things like climbing, paddle boarding, and ocean rowing.
Anna shared that there are so many little things you can do alongside a normal life and when it comes to the big things, you just have to take the leap and go for it.
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