10 Aug 2022

How Being Adventurous Leads to Growth and Boosts Resilience

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais Nin.

Reflecting on What Being Adventurous Means

Being adventurous means different things to different people. 

The way I see it, a true adventurer has a courageous spirit, a willingness to give new things a go, and a curiosity to learn and grow from these experiences. 

Having a spirit of adventure gives us the impetus to explore new places, try new experiences, meet new people and be enriched by these experiences.

Being adventurous helps us to confront our fears with bravery and curiosity.  

Bravery isn’t just the absence of fear; it is overcoming fear to accomplish a desired outcome. Curiosity is a thirst for new experiences, discovering new places, asking questions, and doing things we’ve never done before.

Difference between Comfort Zones and Growth Zones

Inside our comfort zone we are not challenged or extended; we feel safe and grounded. Life appears to be within our control. Yet this is an illusion; things can change at any time. We are less prepared for change and upheaval; we do not reach our full potential. 

Our growth zone sits just outside our comfort zone. We are stretched and extended as we push ourselves to go beyond what we already know. This can sometimes be stressful. 

Some adventures may not live up to our expectations or lead to unintended consequences, yet each time we push our boundaries we learn something new.

Each time we step up into growth, our comfort zone extends and we feel more confident. Knowing we can overcome obstacles and achieve goals leads to more growth and strengthens our resilience.

That’s what I discovered on AWOL adventures.   

AWOL Adventures 

AWOL (Adventurous Women On the Loose) was launched from a desire to bring together like-minded and courageous women keen to participate in adventurous and challenging pursuits in New Zealand’s adventure playground. 

Our vision was to stretch ourselves to try new things outside our comfort zone, to support one another in new pursuits, to be different and sometimes a bit outrageous. 

Adventuring outdoors involved taking calculated risks, dealing with changeable weather, and sometimes cancelling activities when the conditions were not right. 

Going on AWOL adventures (hiking up mountains and through spectacular bush, kayaking across a busy harbour, exploring an active volcano, and so much more) contributes to a ‘can do’ attitude and a positive mindset when faced with other tough challenges.

We learned a lot about ourselves and from one another, finding better ways of doing things, and giving one another gentle nudges to carry on when the going was tough.

While writing a book* reflecting on over 50 different AWOL adventures around New Zealand, I gained fresh insights on how stretch challenges and trying new experiences build confidence and resilience for taking on real life work and personal challenges. 

We can look also view adventures from a more accessible perspective. 

Adventures Each Day in Unexpected Ways 

Each day is an opportunity to push our limits, to step forward into growth and face the unknown, even in small ways, with adventures that stretch us mentally, physically or emotionally.  

We can shake up our regular routines and go on mini adventures closer to home – exploring local rivers, climbing nearby hills, sleeping under the stars, or cycling to unfamiliar places. With minimal planning, we can leave the safe and familiar and go on accessible adventures – pushing the boundaries, exploring less familiar paths, and experiencing different cultures and cuisines.

It [being adventurous] is a state of mind, a spirit of trying something new and leaving your comfort zone. Adventure is about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity. – Alastair Humphreys


How do you define adventure?

What would you like your next adventure to be?

What could hold you back from doing this adventure?

How can you overcome any obstacles in the way?

* Adapted from my book: Going AWOL – Inspiration and Insights from Adventurous Women On the Loose

Further reading:

Alastair Humphreys, Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes (London, 2014).



Mary Somervell

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