How Adventure Can Change the Way You Handle Work Stress

What starting anything feels like.

We live just 45 minutes away from “hypercoaster” Goliath. It goes 200 feet feet high and has 12 story drops. Dusty really wanted to go to Six Flags this summer. We saw our window of opportunity closing, so we decided to go! My roller coaster experience previous to this looks like: that slow one for kids at American Adventures, Space Mountain, and my classic 2006 panic attack at the front of the line at the Rockin’ Roller Coaster. (Yay me!)

I’d never been to Six Flags. The lady at the gate looked at me like I was nuts. I was terrified, but pretty excited too. I mean I just made it into the park, shattering preconceived notions right from the gate. We started on the Dahlonega Mine Train which was pretty fun and surprising. Next up we did the Looney Tunes one, faster, but definitely a confidence booster.

We headed over to Mind Bender. We’re standing in line. We get buckled in. And Dusty mentions the loops. LOOPS. We take off and I find myself in the fetal position, eyes closed pretty much the whole time. PSA: It physically hurts to ride a roller coaster like that. It hurts to resist all that force.

That sounded very Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I meant it in more of a physics sense.

After that experience, I was sure I was done with roller coasters. I’d failed Dusty’s only dream for me to become a coaster crusher. We decided to take a break on those (terrifying) swings that go around in a circle. I thought about a lot on those swings. Like, suddenly we are super high and I’m just in this little plastic seat with a bar across my lap. And man, that’s kind of a good metaphor for life. We're just here, where we are, doing all we can do. I thought about yoga and the idea that sometimes the best thing to do in moments of stress is to just observe and acknowledge everything that’s going on. I started collecting data like a scientist. What does it feel like when I look away from the swing in front of me? What about when I look down? What’s the sky look like? What are my feet doing? I breathed some really good yoga breaths, was incredibly thankful for my local yoga studio, and eventually relaxed enough to enjoy to ride.

Knowledge is powerful, and calming.

After the swings, I wanted to try the Mind Bender again and experience it instead of wishing it to be over. I sat straight up and blinked maybe twice the whole time. It was still scary, but because I wasn’t resisting all the forces, it didn’t hurt. I got to see a little bit of where I was going, and it was really cool. That second time became more of an experiment in curiosity.

It became an adventure.

I tend to face life and my work with the idea that things will only be good when the bad stuff is over. I miss so much in thinking that way - there’s so much to see and learn in every loop. Tough things are actually easiest to face with your eyes open and back straight.

If we could look at our work with a sense of adventure, I think we’d be a lot less stressed out when things don’t go exactly to plan. The next time things get terrifying, collect all the data you can.

Examine where you are, own it, and take the next step in your adventure.

We can choose to look at our career as a logically planned path to success in which we resist and hurt with every bump and detour. But. I think it would be better to look at our work as an adventure. Those detours will always be surprising, but expected and celebrated as learning opportunities.

So, I didn’t ride Goliath this time, but I rode a bunch of other scary coasters, and I think I crushed them. Here's to the adventure!