At the beginning of this year my husband and I decided to call one day out of each month Adventure Day. We had no idea what we would do on Adventure Day, but we had one rule: to do something we hadn’t done before. Get out of the comfort zone. Get out of the house. Explore, and let the world show us things.

(I can hear all the sevens on the enneagram cheering, “Hooray! Now she’s talking our language!”)

What’s Adventure Day?

Adventure Day happens once a month. Or twice a month, if you want. It’s a day when you do something different. Set it aside in advance. (It’s not Spontaneous Day. It’s Adventure Day. We can’t become that much like the sevens.)

The activity is up to you. It can be something you think would be fun – like roller-skating at the local rink. It can be something that scares you a little – like eating a foreign cuisine you’ve never tried, or going to the symphony if you don’t know classical music. Or it can be something cheese-y or tourist-y that you’d be embarrassed to admit you did – like gem mining, or a carriage ride through the city, or the carnival that shows up in the mall parking lot every summer. (You know the one. No matter what decade it is, Led Zeppelin “Been a Long Time” is invariably blaring as you scream your way around the Ferris wheel.)

A combination of fun, a little scary, and really cheese-y is optimal. (For those who are snooty, being cheese-y is the scary part!)

(My song An Uneventful Evening is the story of an Adventure Day that takes place at the batting cages.)

Adventure Day can last a whole day, or an overnight, or just a few hours. But keep it do-able and somewhat local so that you don’t make it into such a big deal that you never even do it. The goal is just to do it.

Why do Adventure Day?

1 – To Get Out.

In the book, The Big Moo, by Seth Godin (and the Group of 33), there’s a great essay called “Get Out.” The advice is for business types and entrepreneurs, but it applies to everyone.

“If you want to do anything new in the marketplace, you’ve got to get as serious, rigorous and creative about renewing yourself as any other aspect of your business. So get out. Get out of your comfort zone. Too often in the business world we preserve and revere experience, when we should be challenging and renewing it. Go out and get some inexperience.”

2 – To Fill the Well

Adventure Day makes you receptive. It opens you up. If you’ve been reading my blogs on intent and goal setting, then you know how to be proactive and productive. But we also need to open up and be receptive because this is what replenishes the well of images and ideas and keeps us from burning out on productivity.

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron prescribes “Artist Dates.” This is one of the tools for creative types. She calls it “filling the well.”

Adventure Day is similar, but you don’t have to do it alone. And it’s not limited to artists looking to be more creative. It’s about waking up and being alive, which, of course, makes us more creative!

3 – To Get Uncomfortable

Our world has turned into The Olive Garden. The reigning mantra seems to be, “Just keep us safe. Don’t challenge us. Fill us up with pasta and the same salty salads everywhere we go.”

Sometimes I’m invited to perform for business events, sales conferences, or corporate meetings. Some of these audiences are happy and excited. It’s obvious that the company encourages and attracts health and creativity.

Occasionally, though, it’s what I call “The Coffeehouse of the Dead.” An audience of people who have given up on the idea of a life filled with opportunity and adventure. These are people who have decided on what Thoreau called the “quiet life of desperation.” They just want to get back to The Olive Garden.

I say, “Have some baba ganoush and get uncomfortable.” Watch how you react to the discomfort. You might get grouchy. But then again, you might laugh at yourself a little. And maybe you’ll receive a gem or two because life can’t resist handing a gem or two to those who are at least willing.

It might seem like my comfort zone is fairly wide after years of getting on planes or taking road trips to go perform at new theatres or festivals. But just because I travel a lot and perform doesn’t mean I haven’t created my own little Olive Gardens. For me, it’s good to have an adventure that’s not at all affiliated with my work in the world. (Yes, I love the carnival in the mall parking lot. Give me Led Zeppelin, the smell of cotton candy, and the sound of kids screaming at the all-too-probable likelihood that they might die on this ride.)

What to Expect

Nothing.

Really.

Expect nothing.

Adventure vs. Fun

I get nervous before each Adventure Day. I’m always a little worried about whether or not it will be fun.

But that’s part of the Adventure. If I weren’t at least a little uncomfortable, it wouldn’t be much of an Adventure, would it?

AND, the point of Adventure Day is not about fun. Otherwise it’d be called “Fun Day,” which is simply way too much pressure. You certainly can have fun on Adventure Day – and most likely you will – but the point of it is to open your brain and your heart and your senses, and welcome a life that’s more interesting. It’s also great for relationship renewal.

Take a Day Off of Work for Adventure Day

Too many people limit their days off for illness. Take a day off for health. Take a day off for Adventure. If your company frowns on this, then call it a sick day. (Then, start looking for a new place to work.)

When I first got out of college, I worked for Ogilvy & Mather in DC. My former college roommate was also working in DC. One unexpected sunny warm day in the winter of that year, we each called in sick, got in her car, and drove to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Our goal was just to drive over it, and drive back over it again. We paid the toll, and for that brief time, we left our jobs and the January cold behind. We rolled down the windows and felt freedom and wind and water. We laughed and sang along to Jimmy Buffet. We filled up the well.

If companies had any sense, they’d encourage their staff to take days off to drive over bridges. I quit my job and became a songwriter soon after that day. I got sick of sick days. Use your sick days to stay well.

What Happens on A Sample Adventure Day

This past week, Adventure Day was actually two days. My husband and I hiked five miles up Mount LeConte in the Smoky Mountains. We stayed at the LeConte Lodge for the night. And we hiked 5 miles back down.

The Adventure Part:

We had printed out an account of the trail written by Ed Wright, an old-timer who gives a mile-by-mile history of the trail and its landmarks. We loved stopping to read it, and follow the path and thoughts of this unknown person. Of course, the beauty was remarkable. The hike was hard. The smells were all new and wild.

The Uncomfortable Part:

The beds at the Lodge.

The cold at night.

The families that came as a group. They brought 13 pre-teen kids who interrupted our perfectly serene sunset moment on the cliff’s edge arriving en masse and talking about wetting their pants, jumping over the edge, and Mission Impossible 3. They made me want to yell, “Damn it! You’re wrecking our Adventure Day!” (I didn’t, of course.)

And, lastly, the morning coffee that tasted like, well, sewage.

The Funny Part:

The man in the lodge who, just after my husband and I made faces at each other after sipping our coffee, sipped his coffee and said, “AAAAAHHHH. Now THAT’S goooood.”

The Gem:

I am inspired by strong women. On this trip I discovered Margaret Stevenson. The journal of her 718 trips up Mount LeConte was in the lodge. It made me cry. Her last hike was when she was 83, when she decided to limit her hiking to the less challenging trails. She adored native flowers, as do I. And she talked with and was kind to everyone she met on the trail. (She probably wouldn’t have wanted to yell at the pre-teens.)

Plan Your Own

What you do depends on you. What’s fun or interesting or new to one person might be old hat to another.

Also, remember, uncomfortable doesn’t mean “in pain.” Don’t make yourself do something harmful to you. You don’t have to sky-dive to be uncomfortable! (Maybe going to the Olive Garden would make you uncomfortable.)

Just remember this thought, from the Big Moo. “The best way to open your mind is to apply a jolt of unfamiliarity.”

The unfamiliar is all around you. Go find it. Let me know how it goes.

37 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Sam

    Christine, I absolutely adore “adventure days,” although they tend to happen a lot less frequently than I would like. I often find that the sensation of doing something you’ve never done before (and the uncertainty that comes along with it) often leaves a feeling of lightness and joy, an “I can try something new and not do it perfect and be happy just because I tried it” sort of weightlessness. Just a month ago I tried ocean kayaking for the first time while on vacation. Yes the water was cold, yes my arms started hurting on the way back in, and yes my kayak flipped while going through the surf, but I was so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone because I loved every minute of it.

  • NancyCz

    I read this over the weekend and emailed it to Kris and said, “We should try this!”. We’re at a point in our lives where we’re both busy and our weekends tend to fall into a rut… we’re not laughing as much as we used to. Not because there’s nothing to laugh at, but because we’ve seen it before. We sat down on Sunday to have dinner and talked about Adventure Day and now we can’t stop. We’ve dedicated the First Saturday of each month as AD and will be starting April 7th by going to an auction. I googled the date at work along with “Albany, NY” (the closest thing resembling a metropolis) after not finding anything going on in VT that we haven’t done. We’re both excited because we have NO clue what to expect, we’ve never been to where it is, and we’ve never done it before. WHoo hoo!

  • Rob Wootters

    An adventure day can lead down many paths………Here is the short, short…….. Left Florida, 19 year career with awsome company to “help” fiance better her career, came to Birmingham, Things went great first three years, discovered hiking, we both loved it, went on adventure trip to Smokies, did alum cave bluff trail, returned home to B’ham, had wonderful romantic evening with fiance, caught fiance in parking lot of Home Depot with “new adventure” four hours later,ex- fiance got the big promo she sought, Got new man in her life, who happened to be her assistant manager. Just goes to show you never know where the trail will lead……. Returned to trail 03/35/07 by myself and actually went to leconte summit and stayed at shelter,found that I still love the trail…..not so fond of ex-fiance, but love the adventure days….

  • Brian Kim

    Christine,

    Excellent article and advice. (very well written too)

    I find that Adventure days can open up a whole new world of possibilites that you can’t possibly fathom. In truth, everyday can be a potential adventure day. But people seem to repeat the same day over and over, go to work, come back, watch TV, eat, go watch a movie on the weekends and drink beer with the buddies. You could be missing out on a lot if you don’t put yourself out there.

  • christine

    Hey Basia, Yep…when I first moved to Asheville, it was such a big and unexpected life change that everyday was an adventure and I truly woke up! I can only imagine what this is like for you! Congratulations on jumping out of the comfort zone… Keep me posted!

  • Basia

    I love the idea of Adventure Days and stepping out of your comfort zone. For me, the last couple years have been one big Adventure Day, ever since I moved from New York to India. It definitely took me out of my comfort zone, in so many ways – and I’ve loved every minute of it.

  • Kailani

    Thank you for submitting this post to the Carnival of Family Life. It’s something that all couples should make the time for.

  • christine

    Thanks Heidi! Get the enneagram book I listed in my Reading List. (Click on the Archives for June). It’s excellent. And quite an eye opener. I’ve known lots of people who do this intuitively. They’re much happier than the rest of the world…

  • Heidi

    I must be a seven because Adventure Day comes to me intuitively. I took this last Tuesday off to go ocean fishing and took my eight year old. It was a day of firsts for us both and we will never forget it! Christine, love your writing, I send your articles to my mom and other friends as well. Thank you!

  • christine

    Hi Sandy and Mark! Thanks for stopping in here. We had a great time meeting you all, and I’m happy to hear the rest of your trip was successful…

  • Mark and Sandy

    Christine:

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful comments about your Adventure Day. We were one of the other couples that shared some Hot Chocolate with you and Mickey. You seemed very much at peace with yourselves as you headed down the Mountain on Friday morning. We had a wonderful hike down, stopped and said hello to the llamas as they were heading up to LeConte and then finished our hike among the tourists at the bottom. A last stop at the Dulcimer Shop in Townsend was well rewarded.

    Your writing is wonderful and your blog is now bookmarked! Greetings from Chicago and we’ll follow you and your writings from here.

  • christine

    Way to go Megan!

  • Megan

    I took a pottery class for the first time yesterday. It rocked! I was totally out of my comfort zone and I survived, and made a bowl!

  • Kathy

    Actually David and I go on what we’ve been calling “Kathy Adventures” all the time ….. typically though that means getting lost on the way to somewhere we are supposed to be because I didn’t QUITE know the way to get there. But we’ve discovered some cool new things by doing this – places we didn’t know existed. I like your Adventure Day concept much better than our little forays into the unknown from safe within our car….I think we’ll start building some of these into our month. We all need to get out a little more and step out of that comfort zone! Explore a new place! Leave work and all the stresses behind as you do it. I love it!! Thanks for the suggestion.

  • David (meer kitty2)

    who?… me? …

    but cappy turtle will tell you i am so shy :>

  • christine

    Hey y’all, I was on a plane all day yesterday returning from a festival in Salt Lake City, so I’m behind in writing back!

    Beth – I have a feeling you would be the perfect person to share an adventure day with!

    Susie – I do believe that there are times, like you describe, when an Adventure Day is probably not the needed action. Sounds like, for you, Relaxation Day, might be the better choice. Congratulations on all the big and exciting changes you’re experiencing. Break wide open girlfriend! And thanks for the blog reference. I’ll check it out.

    Starbucker – I relate to your story of moving. When I moved here to Asheville, everything was an adventure because my whole life paradigm shifted. It’s easy to forget that all that risk made you so alive, isn’t it? Paint your nails green, go rollerskating, have a margarita, and watch the sunset! (Okay, so forget about the nails part.)

    Yay Tom! Weren’t you recently talking about doing a jig at one of Liz Straus’s Tuesday night open comments night? Here’s your chance!

  • Tom Vander Well

    Just to follow up, in a moment of synchronicity yesterday I get an e-mail about FREE swing dance lessons this Sunday in our area. Hmmmmm…I think it’s time to jump, jive, ‘n wail.

  • Starbucker

    Christine, I know what you mean here (and boy I do understand the Olive Garden analogy)- there has to be some risk taking involved in one’s life to really feel like it’s been lived, even if it’s one day a month. For me, I can say I’ve had “Adventure Years”, since on several occasions I made choices to up and move to different locations where I literally didn’t know a soul. The first time was when I was 18, when I went from the Midwest to South Texas. There, literally every day was Adventure Day for about two years. I had my first Fajita there – and did my first Cotton-Eyed Joe too (both on the same day). Nearly 30 years on, I don’t take those kind of risks much these days, but your post reminds me that I need to get back to a little Adventure, even if it is, just one day, going for that metaphorical paper instead of plastic! Thanks.

  • Susie

    Right now I’m in the middle of a BIG adventure that I started about 6 months ago and I’m still learning, seeing, doing and experiencing new things everyday. Yeah, some are uncomfortable (i.e. rock climbing for the first time…those harnesses just aren’t built for comfort!), but what I’ve learned is that the uncomfortable situations turned out to be exhilarating, pushing my limits and leaving me wanting more.

    Sometimes I call my job an adventure. Everyday there is something new, I just have to reflect upon the day and find my adventure. Perhaps that best thing though that I found about adventures is once they’re over, I find myself looking for a new adventure, challenge or experience; it’s an upward spiral.

    The question I have to ask myself is: what’s next? Perhaps I’ll try some real sushi or start a blog of my own.

    Whatever happens next, I’ll have to keep telling myself that the unexpected is the biggest adventure of all!!!

    P.S. If you like inspiring women, here’s one with her own blog about her adventure across America on her bicycle! http://www.sarahsride.net ENJOY!!!

  • Beth

    I LOVE this idea! I just love it! Make adventures, make memories, make a life, it’s what’s it’s all about. Whether you’re doing this as a couple, by yourself, with a friend you don’t get to see often enough, whoever or whatever it is, I so appreciate reading this, Christine, and realizing for the umpteenth time, that only by prioritizing does anything happen in your day, week, month,……Thank you!!!

  • christine

    Hey Tom, Then by all means, grab your wife and step AWAY from the computer! (Just be warned… our first Adventure Day started out with much tension. but we managed to work through it and have a great time!)

    David, So then…answer the question. What DOES it mean? How about you start a blog and react to my blogs and then i’ll react to your blogs and it can go on and on and on… ??? meer.

  • David (meer kitty2)

    There are a few stories told in movies and/or books that I ruminate on, asking myself and others “what is the meaning of …” One of those stories is “The Accidental Tourist”. Macon writes travel guides for people who want to take their comfort zone with them everywhere. So, a good discussion thread might be: What does “The Accidental Tourist” mean about having adventure days?

  • Tom Vander Well

    Thanks for a great post, Christine. You reminded me that I haven’t had an Artist’s Date in a while, which may be why I feel like I’m scraping the cup at the bottom of the well at the moment.

    Your description of your Adventure Day is inspiring! I think my wife and I are both overdue for a little Adventure Day of our own. I think it’s time to make it happen.