Tag Archives: Motivation

Overcoming the Fear of Surfing Bigger Waves (and Everything Else)

Don't believe it.

Don’t believe it.

I’m no expert on overcoming fears, but since I started surfing, there are very few things in my day to day at work that elicit the same response as seeing a large outside set wave heading towards me. I recently spoke at a conference in front of a group of intelligent, scientific people. Never once in my preparation or during my presentation did I wish I was somewhere else until it passed. I can’t say the same for plenty of moments during surf sessions.

I’ve linked to several free articles and would recommend reading the Fear Project (also below), but here are a few things that have helped me. I am hardly fear-free, I have “fight or flight” kicking at some point in 2 out of every 4 sessions, but I’ve changed my relationship with fear when I’m out in the water. And, when it comes to fear or nervousness relating to situations outside of surfing, I have big waves as a reference point to help me downsize whatever situation is in front of me.

Repeated exposure to safely uncomfortable conditions

Do the thing you fear to do and keep on doing it…that is the quickest and surest way ever yet discovered to conquer fear. ~ Dale Carnegie

I really want to be good at surfing. Not to win competitions or to impress anyone, I just want it to be an activity that I continue improving and excelling at in my life. I end up thinking about it quite a bit and because I’m able to paddle out almost every day, I can have some days where I work on specific things without the risk of wasting one day out of seven while on vacation.

I periodically go out in less than comfortable conditions for me personally. This isn’t to say I’m intentionally unsafe, but I’ll go out a low tide, for example, knowing I’ll catch less waves and probably be humbled, simply because I want to feel what the ocean is like when the waves are faster and more hollow. Recognizing what has to be different involves a reconsideration of existing habits (“I REALLY need to paddle faster to catch these”) and an improvement in form. Any regular surf day after a low tide session is met with more confidence. The same goes with wave size.

Become an expert at duck diving

Duck diving is one of the most powerful functional moves in surfing. Not only does it help you conserve energy, but doing it the right way, consistently, reduces your chances of getting hammered unnecessarily. Not only that, but nothing is better than ducking under a giant oncoming wave, popping out the other side unscathed, energized and ready for the next one.

Not only does it provide you more options (tools) while you are in the water, it is safer and works with the flow of the ocean. I still ditch my board sometimes. I don’t like to, but it happens. When you duck dive, you are hanging onto your board with more control, so even if you don’t go deep enough and get sucked backwards, the thing you are hanging onto is bound by physics to be your quickest ride to the surface. I realize this isn’t possible for all board types (long boards, for example), but if your’e on a board you can technically push under the water for a second or two, work at perfecting that shit, you’ll thank yourself later.

If John John Florence duck dive the length of his pool, you can learn to duck dive your board for 1-2 seconds…

Learn to love wiping out
I’m no spring chicken. My injuries take longer to heal than when I was in my twenties and thirties. That said, I’ve found that many of my surfing injuries are from fighting the energy in the waves rather than going with the flow.

I started noticing friends who were great surfers laughing after they wiped out (or at least giving a “whoooo!” sound afterwards). So I started laughing at myself, how ridiculous I must have looked yelling “don’t kill me, I’ve got kids!” to an uncaring wave while rag dolling over the falls. In laughing at myself, I’ve changed the association with wiping out into a positive experience and have found that I’m now significantly more relaxed during a wipeout (opening your eyes under water helps as well).

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” ― Jim Morrison

Watch videos of people wiping out
When I first started surfing, I was so intent on getting good fast that I didn’t want to “poison” my mind with visions of people wiping out. Somehow, I figured, if I didn’t watch people wipe out, I would do it less.

That’s a laughable thought now, but as soon as I started, I learned a few key things:
1. Everyone wipes out, even the pros. It’s part of moving quickly across the top of water on a liquid slope.
2. Nearly 100% of wipeouts you see online are not fatal. The people in those spine tinglers lived to tell their story and surf another day.
3. Watching people wipe out shows you new ways to wipe out. What better way to learn to love something than to get better at it?

I love watching videos of The Wedge. It is amazing to me that so many people love to surf a wave that so clearly hates humans.

Wait for your will to catch bigger waves to outpace your fear of them

This is one of the most important parts. You need to play it “safe” and should always know your limits, but until you have the interest to ride bigger waves and that interest outweighs your fear of some of those that come in, you’ll stay where you are. That’s just fine. Once you catch a few larger waves, see it goes very well and get the buzz that goes along with the ride, they won’t seem as big.

My will to catch bigger waves lead to me doing quite a bit of research, including watching videos, reading blog posts and reading The Fear Project. I’ve listed some of those links below. Whether it is surfing or anything else you’re trying to tackle, my sincere wish is that something in this post gives you the motivation to go for it.

The Fear Project by Jaimal Yogis

Articles

Your Brain on Fear

How to overcome fear of bigger waves/how to paddle out?

The best surfing advice you’ve ever been given: Feel the fear and do it anyway

Surfology’s “Who Knows?” Q&A Question about Mental Exercises to Overcome Fear

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My biggest challenge in working from home

Laptop and Home Office Desk

Staying motivated while the TV is calling in my home office.

A handful of us have made changes in life that seem bizarre to normal people. ‘Crazy’ is a term regularly used to describe the choices I have made. I threw in the towel, giving up a well-paying management role to relocate over 8,500 km into a country with no idea of my next step. I was in need of something new, however in hindsight I do agree this was a rather extreme decision

I justified the choice to my wife, my family (and most importantly my mother in law) with a need to recharge, revitalize and discover a different type of income that would give me both flexibility and freedom. I had savings to get me through the dry spell in the beginning, reassuring the largest doubts in my mind. I was also lucky to have fantastic people close to me, and received phenomenal understanding and support through the transition. Would I recommend this path to everyone? Probably not. I jumped off the deep end, and failure was an outcome I had to stare in the face each and every day.

Fortunately, there are less dramatic options for those of us seeking something new. Even a small change can be a very good thing, revitalizing our passion for the job and recharging our batteries. When you want to keep your day job but take more control, I recommend negotiating a work from home arrangement with your employer. Conducting business from your sofa in your pajamas is a dream of many office employees. I have been consulting out of my home office on-and-off for over a year, but believe me, it comes with it’s own unique set of challenges.

Managing distractions is simply the hardest thing to do. For anyone even considering this change of lifestyle, you will not succeed if you cannot take responsibility for your own actions. Before you take that first step, ask yourself if you are ready to handle being your own boss. You will have no one in your lounge room forcing you to turn off the TV and focus on work, no colleagues to keep you on track when you hit a slump after lunch. This is what I personally have struggled with, staying on task when there are so many other things to do!

My house is my castle, and unfortunately, coping with the call of the latest Xbox games, fantastic movies queued up in Netflix  or my dog calling for attention means that it can be very difficult to remain productive. In the last 12 months I have learnt how critical it is to be disciplined, otherwise nothing ever gets done. Being strict with yourself is very, very hard. In the beginning I thought that I was doing incredibly. I was always ‘busy’ and the day’s seemed to fly right past. Looking back, I know now I could have achieved much more in my first months. Time and goal management needed to right up top of my priority list, as I was now my own boss. I realized the change in my lifestyle would also require a change in me. Success hinged on my ability to adapt, and only I could bring this change in myself.

Today, I am more scheduled than I ever could have imagined. I start my day at 7 am, with a ridiculously large coffee and build a task/reward list. This is what I developed to keep me motivated and on track, essentially its a to-do list with a reward for finishing each task. Some are small, like reading all of my new emails before I can send one. Other tasks are much larger, like finishing this article before I can head to the gym! I have found that making sure I achieve something before I can go for lunch, turn on the TV or even walk my dog is an excellent motivator. It forces me to get things done when otherwise I will have an empty belly or a grumpy puppy on my hands.

Working from home is a fantastic change, whether its for yourself or for your employer, make sure you understand the challenges involved before you take the leap. You won’t get anything done if you think checking your emails while you watch 4 hours of daytime soaps is working. Learn to manage your time and you will find that both your lifestyle and happiness will improve. Remember, working from home is a privilege you get from your employer. It’s not a right, and you need to earn it. Once you earn it, make sure you continue to deserve it.

It’s challenging to be your own boss, but the rewards are phenomenal.

Author: Travis Bennett

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Filed under Expats, Motivation, Preparing to Breakaway, The Breakaway, Work and Business

Turning Nomad: Motivated by inspiration

Believe_Inspiration_Stones

It takes inspiration, but requires motivation. Sounds like something you would hear at a life coaching seminar to change your life, and while it is a bit bumper sticker slogan, it is actually true. To make the move that will change your life both in terms of location and economics it always takes a dream (the inspiration), and throughout my life I have always been well acquainted with dreaming. Motivation has been more of a stranger to me, but more on that later.

Growing up in a small town in South Wales, UK, people are faced with two choices; stay and have a normal and perfectly healthy middle class life, or leave and have a different kind of existence. While most stay, I always dreamt of the “more” and wanted to explore the world that I loved so much when I was younger. I loved exotic locations I would see on TV and was particularly passionate about animals, so it stands to reason I wanted to leave a country where it rains all the time and the most wildlife you´ll see is a sheep or badger.

Ironically I have come to appreciate Wales for the small jewel it is in recent years, but perhaps that´s another story to be told. Anyway… I spent much of my youth and early adulthood deep in the dream of escaping my boring life when actually I was sleepwalking into being an engineer and living in the area I was born, probably one street from my parents.

The normal chain of events for someone becoming an expat and becoming financially free is meeting someone, a girl, a guy, you know how it goes. For me it was slightly different as the profession came first when I realized that I was a very capable writer while studying engineering in university. I left my course and waited a year to enroll in a different degree program for creative and professional writing, which I guess is why I am here now, writing this for you.

Then there was the girl (what? You thought there was not going to be one?). Of course, we fell madly in love and she helped give me something I had never had until then, motivation. She lived in Spain, me in the United Kingdom, and her life meant that if anyone was going to move, it would have to be me. Obviously the idea appealed to this 15 year veteran of dreaming about the big escape to another country.

My degree studies meant that any permanent move was off for about two years, which meant we would have to travel to see each other. My explorer’s heart finally got to do what it craved, and I traveled extensively over the next two years to various locations around the world to see my new girlfriend. The seed had been planted and as they say, I got the bug. I now wanted to travel more, so in-between the times I would see my partner I would travel to other places, and even came up with a few grand adventures (again, another story).

One fact I am mildly proud of is that I have flown on a plane countless times, but have always traveled alone, I have never been with a companion on a flight. I wear that as a sort badge of honor to show off my nomad tendencies, but I doubt anyone actually is that impressed by it.

My now fiancée is from Argentina and just as the move to Spain was shifting into gear she had to move back to her homeland permanently. That was no issue really, I would just move to South America instead, but what would I do for a job?

The truth is, the idea of becoming financially independent did not occur to me at this point. By the way, I do not class financially independent as being rich, if that´s what it means, where´s all my money? Instead I class it as having the freedom of profession to be able to live anywhere and generate the same income. At that time four years ago I sat a number of TEFL teaching courses which allow you to work as an English teacher in foreign countries, this I thought would be my career in Argentina.

This was just a little concerning because on those courses I was a frankly terrible teacher who passed because, well everybody passes. I arrived in Argentina pretty sure I would not be a teacher and by that point not speaking a word of Spanish. What possible career could await me I thought, but then I found the courage to explore my talent.

I decided I would write for a living and through the days and months I built up a portfolio by doing painstaking jobs until I had a reputation in some circles as a good freelance writer. I now work full-time doing that and am developing a publishing business and get a good if unspectacular income here in Argentina. I work from home, I largely work when I want to, and if I was inclined to I could move to a different location tomorrow with ease.

So what´s the moral of my story? Well, I guess it is that the inspiration is fine, without it you will never get the independence of location and finances. However, don´t dream too long and instead find the motivation, find your path to achieve your dreams, because trust me, even though there may be a few stumbles, you do have a path.

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Filed under Expats, Motivation, The Breakaway, The Decision