I started using the phrase live a life less ordinary when writing for Soul & Surf a good while back now. I didn’t coin that phrase, it was harvested from my blurry memory of the 90s. A film (and a song) titled ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ lodged in my brain back then and struck a chord, even if I now don’t really remember the film or the song.
I use it because Soul & Surf is the vehicle for me (and so many of our team) to live a life less ordinary. At the same time, I share meals with so many guests who talk about plans for reassessing their work and life in order to break out of the norm who find their Soul & Surf experience a useful part of that shift. Of course, there are many people who are content with their lot and just come for a nice, nourishing break.
So, what is a life less ordinary?
If it’s not ordinary I guess it must be extra-ordinary. An extraordinary life.
Sounds a bit poncey and pretentious, right?
When you strip it back, everyone’s extraordinary is different. An extraordinary life doesn’t have to mean being the first human to split the atom or to swim the Atlantic. It could just be changing jobs to one that you actually like. Or committing to spend more time each week on your passion. I'm here writing this Journal post to share tips for achieving what is extraordinary for you.
It’s all relative.
Anyway, enough of the preamble, I’ve collated here a few thoughts, ideas and tactics that have been useful for me and members of the Soul & Surf team as we pursue our version of a life less ordinary. Let us know how they work for you...
Many of us at Soul & Surf have taken a risk and made a conscious decision to step away from a normal career path and choose experiences and lifestyle over money. We worked out how we wanted to spend our days and then found or created a way to achieve that. And summoned up the courage to risk it.
Education conditions us to avoid risk yet in reality our whole life is a leap of faith, a risk. Think about it - the pursuit of love is what makes us most human but we don’t say “rising into love”. We fall in love. We jump, we let go. We surrender.
Work out your extraordinary.
Then… take a risk, be brave, and surrender.
Take your leap of faith.
You might fall,
you might fly.
Extraordinary is not safe. And it’s not normal.
So you’ll most likely have to leave your comfort zone and push through some boundaries to get there. You’ll most likely feel uncomfortable and scared, but remember that’s just the flipside of feeling excited and alive.
Those butterflies you get in your tummy?
But one thing’s for sure, it’s not the feeling of ordinary.
Sofie & I pinned this piece by David Hieatt to our fridge before we decided to change things up.
Find Your Love
You know that dream you carry around with you each day?
It's kinda important.
Wasn’t it what you were put on planet Earth to do?
They say everyone has a calling, can you still hear it?
Doesn’t it eat away at you?
That treadmill you are on, did it ever get too much?
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to do your thing?
Did you ever feel time was passing you by?
Just how many days have you left before your last?
Did you ever wonder about stuff like that?
Did you ask yourself, “What was stopping you?”
There is never a right time.
You will be too old. Too young. Too something or other.
When was the last time you took a risk?
Did you remember how alive it made you feel?
There are no guarantees of success.
It's not called a leap of faith for nothing.
It's not too late, honest.
You might fall.
… You might fly.
Turning dreams into reality is the tricky bit. Isn’t it?
Before we set up Soul & Surf, Sofie & I used something called a Dreamline exercise. I still blush as I write this, but it actually worked.
Begin with the premise ‘If I win £100 million today and money is no object…’.
Then allow yourself to imagine what you would be excited to get out of bed each day for.
Ask yourself, in 6 to 12 months time...
Edit those down to the 5 which would make the most impact on your life and work out ways of achieving each without the £100million. Here’s Tim Ferris’ Dreamline template for you.
Fear is often actually a fear of the unknown. The most powerful thing I’ve ever done when contemplating big changes and big decisions is a practice called fear-setting.
Before making the leap, ask what’s the worst that could happen?
What might happen if you tried that thing and it all went wrong. Write down and describe in detail all the worst-case scenarios you can think of.
Then, one by one, work out what you would do to solve it if these worst-case scenarios actually happened. Simple.
Make it easy, use this Fear Setting template.
It doesn’t take any time at all to notice the present moment, but we’re brought up to avoid it like the plague. The benefits are too numerous to mention but I’ll pick a few – beating anxiety, building confidence, bringing clarity and encouraging creativity – all of which are great ways to kick start a less ordinary life.
Being Here Now doesn’t just come from full-on in-a-cave/up-a-mountain religious meditation or dream-catching tie-dyed hippy-dippy business. Often the things we really really love doing get us totally lost in our senses and into the moment. And of course surf, yoga and massage are all pretty good at getting us into the now.
I know that all sounds a bit cliched but in certain walks of professional and social life these kinds of qualities can be frowned upon. Which sounds bonkers, but it’s true.
Strip it back to the basics and and aim to be the person you wish everyone else was.
If you some of, or all of the above then the rest kinda falls into place. And if it doesn’t something else will.
Good sh*t happens.
Life becomes less ordinary.