Going on a challenging expedition is fantastic. And, it’s awful.

At the base of Kilimanjaro in Mweka village outside of Moshi, Tanzania.

Mweka village outside of Moshi, Tanzania.

Traveling far to seek adventure creates energy, builds excitement and fosters life-enriching experiences.  It is also time consuming, stressful and messes up other areas of your life.

In two days I leave for Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro with my daughter, Jess. This fantastic opportunity will undoubtedly be a top event in both our lives. But, preparing to go is unpleasant. Clients, bills and deadlines need to be managed. Friends, family and colleagues need support and attention. It’s not easy to handle. So, we make lists, allocate tasks, and hustle preparations.

This urgency and conflict can be stressful, and usually leads to the Three Mental Stages of Embracing Challenge:


Stage 1 – I Love This Challenge

Choosing a daring challenge makes you energized and empowered. You’re going to exotic places and doing wild things! What could be better? The months before your expedition or self-imposed challenge are blissful and fun. The positive possibilities seem endless.

Stage 2 – I Hate This Challenge

As your departure draws near, the harsh realities of preparing to leave, and being gone rear their ugly heads.  The fantasy and bliss of your “perfect trip” get squashed under the weight of the disorganized gear pile on your floor, and the growing paper pile on your desk.  This expedition was clearly a bad idea.  The fun that you might have on the trip could not possibly be worth all this hassle and chaos.  The moment your enthusiasm hits bottom will be crystallized when you think or say aloud; “I wish I had never signed up for this!”

Stage 3 – I Accept This Challenge

Acceptance has arrived.  This desirable and realistic stage is usually reached a few days before departure, or, sometimes, a few days after. It’s clear now that you will not complete everything on your To Do list (Question: Has anyone ever really done that anyways?), and for the most part, it does not matter. You’ve done what you can, you’ll get on the plane, and gradually let it all go. Somehow, the world will spin on without you. You choose this challenge. Now it is here. Embrace it.

Jess standing in front of Kilimanjaro.

My daughter, Jess, standing in front of Kilimanjaro.

These three stages of embracing challenge are a lot like the sequence of falling in love with someone:

  1. They’re perfect!
  2. They have flaws.
  3. And finally, they’re imperfect, but you still embrace them.


So, I sit here with half-done lists and half-packed gear.  But, I know that soon I will drop the list, grab my pack, and head off to embrace the adventure with my trusted companions. No matter what challenge you choose, that is what life is about.

Stay resilient!