Unleash the Explorer - Pushing Boundaries

- By Darren Smith

The explorer spirit is something that lies within us. For some, it is top of mind and for others it can be pushed back below the surface due to other competing priorities or circumstances in our lives. It is important for us to continually awaken the explorer spirit to get the most out of life and achieve the greatest personal growth. A recent European holiday provided me with that opportunity.

One of the common goals that many Australians have is to travel. For many it can reignite the explorer spirit. In most cases, it is not the destination itself but the experiences, people, environment, and how it makes us feel. Quite often it gets us out of the routines that we live each day to do and feel things outside of our normal comfort zones. This helps refresh our sense of personal direction and is a core element of our own financial wellness.

The ability to share the experiences and stories with others connected to us, be it friends, family or work colleagues, extends the spirit and in some cases it will inspire others to take action.

There is an excitement that goes with exploring, be it unchartered territory. When we travel there are many differences: the journey to the destination, food, people, currency, experiences, landscape and the environment. Exploring it with someone else or by yourself can make a big difference and expand your own thoughts as to what is possible. The new or unknown can come with risks but they can be managed and that is actually the source of some of the excitement.

My own recent trip to Europe which included time in Budapest, Prague, Vienna and Switzerland provided me with a great opportunity to push the boundaries and step out of my comfort zone. Normally I am a co-explorer with my wife of 29 years, however, this trip was a little different. With the first three days being spent alone, I got the opportunity to explore solo. In a country where the environment was significantly different in terms of currency, weather, language, culture and landscape I had to make adjustments.

Having some landmarks or pillars whilst exploring was really important to me. They gave me the ability to check progress and correct when I was off track. As each hour passed, increasingly I became familiar with the currency and landmarks. This has relevance to managing our own finances in that it is critical that we correct when we are off track.

One landmark that stood out from day one was the Freedom statue monument on Gellért Hill in Budapest. It could be seen from miles away. On Gellert Hill about half way up was another monument. They both stood out as guardians over the Danube which flowed through the city of Budapest below.

With snow and sleet covering the hill tops, I made my way towards the hill and thought to myself, it would be great to just get to the first monument check point as I could get some good pictures and perspectives of the city below. It was daunting at first as it was a steep descent with a lot of slippery steps. The inner voice in my head was telling me to take one step at a time and just keep moving forward.

Each step I took forward became a barrier to turning back. About half way to the first mark I was starting to question what I had started. The steps were incredibly slippery and my heart was starting to race but I took the time to stop and look at the new perspective and take in the views at each progress point. It made me feel good as I progressed, and I kept reinforcing to myself what a great thing to do and share with others. I didn’t want to be one of those who gave up half way because it gets a little tough. I gave text updates to my wife along the way which built in some extra accountability and incentive to keep going.

Yes, it was cold (minus 3 degrees Celsius to be exact) and slippery but it was also filled with beautiful panoramic views of the city below. At the first checkpoint, it felt great and I made sure I spent 10 minutes soaking up the moment and took some pictures. I was proud and could have stopped there and returned back to the starting point. However, that bigger statue on top of the hill was angelic looking, creating the desire and motivation to go further. Whilst there were choices, my goal was to continue.

The path continued to steepen and fill with more snow. The last 100 metres were so icy I had to hold the hand rail to make sure I did not slide backwards. Again with one step at a time, I got there. The 360 - degree views from the top were unbelievable and well worth the effort.

This experience was so rewarding and reminded me of the need to continually challenge ourselves because the rewards and personal growth can be so worthwhile.

When thinking about you own goals, particularly travel, dream big. Not only about locations but about the experiences and how you want to spend your time. Keep testing what would make it most memorable.

Achieving financial wellness comes from awakening our explorer spirit and from understanding our personal ‘why’ and what is important. The key to this is pushing boundaries and taking a little risk to understand what you really find enjoyable and rewarding. One aspect this aligns with in our business is through our work with teams within workplaces around the various elements of financial wellness. The greatest reward comes from helping these individuals reignite their explorer spirit and truly understand what they value in life.