“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~Mark Twain
In 2022, I wanted to quit my job and didn’t know why. I was about to embark on a six-week trip to a country I’d always wanted to visit—New Zealand—to work in sports TV production. I loved the people I worked with, the company I worked for, and the buzz I got from live TV. Still, it wasn’t enough. I needed to explore these feelings further.
That word “exploration” was the key. It took me back to 2004, when I was in a hostel in Laguna Beach, an eighteen-year-old girl travelling alone. When I was growing up, I didn’t want to follow the traditional route of going to university just to find a corporate job, climb the career ladder, and retire with a good pension. The perfect path for many was not an option that excited me.
I was travelling around the U.S. West Coast, hoping to find adventure and opportunities, but I knew I’d need to start seriously thinking about my future and next steps when I returned to London.
I sat on Huntington Beach and spent some time thinking about what I wanted my life to look like. I wanted to work for a reputable company that could offer me travel opportunities. I couldn’t identify what I wanted to do with any precision, but I knew that was a good starting place.
A few days later, on July 7, I was awakened in the early morning by a fellow Brit who informed me that terrorists had just attacked London. For the rest of the day, I was glued to the BBC, watching the tragedy unfold. In between the journalism, adverts depicted BBC correspondents working all over the world, and that’s when I thought the BBC might be the company for me.
Several months later, I returned to London and applied to be a production team assistant for a BBC sister company. To my astonishment, I got the job. I was so excited! A new job, new people, and new opportunities.
During my first week, I overheard my boss speaking on the phone with a friend in the BBC Sport division. She was preparing to travel to Germany to spend six weeks working on the FIFA World Cup. My mind exploded. That was the job I yearned for. I wanted to work in sports and travel to the most spectacular events on earth.
I asked my boss if she could find out whom I could contact to get a foot in the door in that department. It wasn’t straightforward, but after several attempts and emails to their senior production manager, I was asked to come in for a coffee and informal chat.
Fast forward eighteen years. I’ve travelled the globe to work on the biggest sporting events, from World Cups in South Africa and Brazil to the London Olympics, Euros in Poland and Ukraine, umpteen Formula 1 and Formula E races on five continents, sailing regattas off the coasts of Australia and the US, cricket in the Caribbean and New Zealand. And that’s just a partial list.
Travel has shaped my life in so many ways. It has impacted my outlook on life, perspectives, relationships, and goals. It has taken me out of my comfort zone time and time again and allowed me to be inspired by new things.
I have loved my job and still do, mostly, to this day. So it was a surprise to me when I felt the urge to hand in my notice.
Truth be told, throughout my career, I’ve always been restless. I have consistently sought out new opportunities within the framework of my role. I’ve moved between companies, permanent contracts, temporary contracts, and freelancing. I’ve trained to become a teacher, left TV to work on sports documentaries, returned to TV, become a tutor as a side job, and set up my own business.
It wasn’t that I was unhappy in TV production. I just love exploring and presenting myself with new learning environments. That eighteen-year-old in me who never wanted to follow the common path society can push us down still lives within me. And I wouldn’t change her for the world. If I’d never explored different paths, I never would have had the courage to create a lifestyle around my passions, purpose, and skills.
Exploration is one of the greatest purposes of humankind. Everything we know about the world comes from those who explored before us. Discoveries in medicine, science, technology, religion, geography, space, and philosophy have changed the world for the better. They have led to greater equality of race and gender, alleviation of poverty, advances in health and education, tolerance and peace, and preservation of the environment.
The world is constantly changing and developing because of our need to explore and continue learning, growing, creating, building, making, connecting, debating, and trying new things.
So, if you’re feeling stuck and want more fulfilment in your day-to-day, it might be helpful to remember there’s a whole world out there to discover. Our time on Earth is finite. Life should be lived, explored, and enjoyed. Through exploration, you might just stumble across that sweet spot that lights you up and creates a new path for your future.
Here are three reasons why I believe exploring and discovering new opportunities could be the recipe for a more fulfilled life:
1. Exploration is a natural requirement for humanity.
It is as necessary as warmth, love, food, and shelter. Exploration has been the driving force behind humankind since the dawn of time because it is at the centre of everything we do. We explore everything we do from the moment we are born through play, travel, work, speaking, writing, experimenting, singing, and interacting with each other. Let alone the preciousness of exploring the world through the eyes of our children.
From religion to literature, politics to science, and design to philosophy, we are constantly asking questions and searching for new ways to develop our minds and abilities. There is no end to exploration. It is the driving force behind our survival as a race.
2. Exploration creates more self-awareness, which I believe is a critical aspect of meaningful living.
It allows people to understand their strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. By becoming more self-aware, you can gain a deeper understanding of your passions, values, and goals, and can make more intentional choices about how you live your life.
3. Exploration inspires us and gives us hope for a better future.
There is a vast world outside waiting to be explored. It offers adventures to be experienced, endless possibilities, stories to be created, and dreams waiting to come true.
Having a curious and hungry mind allows you to discover goals and options that will bring you more fulfilment and happiness. You can chase your dreams with the comfort of knowing that it’s possible to understand almost anything. By constantly learning, you see what’s possible for yourself and others and alter your perspective of the world.
Exploration doesn’t have to involve big steps such as quitting your job, moving countries, or travelling the world seeking adventure. Instead, we can seek exploration in our every day, and the good news is there are plenty of opportunities to explore and seek purpose wherever you are in life.
Here are five ways you can implement exploration into your everyday lifestyle immediately.
1. Look at your passions and interests and find a way to get more involved in them.
Whatever interests you—art, animals, baking, singing, decorating, driving, teaching, embroidery, music, or sports to name a few—find a way to go and explore how to implement this into your daily or weekly routine.
This could be interning, volunteering your time, picking up a book, subscribing to a podcast, emailing someone who is successful in that field, or taking a class. Getting involved in this area will open up your creative channels. The key is to allow yourself permission and time to experiment.
2. Be spontaneous and get out of the humdrum routine and predictability of your daily life.
Play a different radio station on your way to work, choose a brand new restaurant or cuisine on the weekend, walk a different route around your park, order something completely different off the menu, or choose a different vegetable to cook with each week. There are always surprises and fascinations in store for us if we are open to exploring new ways; we never know what we will discover.
3. Connect with new like-minded people.
You never know what conversation might spark a new thought or perspective. You can find inspiration from one word, a smile, or an interaction that can change your outlook on a situation. For example, buying from a local business instead of a corporate chain allows you to get to know the owner and the story behind their product. Their story might just inspire your exploration journey.
4. Even if you can’t pack a suitcase and fly to far-off destinations, that doesn’t mean you can’t transport your mind to them.
Movies, documentaries, TV shows, and books can all transport you into new worlds and cultures. Next time you settle down with a good book or in front of the TV, why not choose a new genre and be open to learning new things?
5. Your clothes are one way to show the world what you stand for and who you are.
Fashion has a huge impact on your mindset, mood, and confidence. Experiment with different clothing, mix and match what you already have, and play around with what makes you feel most confident so you’ll want to get out in the world and explore.
We can open the door to exploration in everyday life. After all, the reason for your exploration is not to discover your life’s purpose. The purpose of your life is to live it!
Exploration is a continuous journey toward self-improvement and personal growth that allows you to live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful to you. Don’t give up on exploring what you want and pursuing your dreams. Your life is what you make it, and it’s worth trying to make it what you want it to be. So go! Explore and discover. Embrace the journey and enjoy the ride!