Mountains in the Mind: getting motivated for your next adventure


The joys of adventure are plastered all around us. You only have to scroll through Instagram for a mental reminder of the spectacular world that we should be travelling and exploring.

Officially, adventure is defined as an ‘unusual and exciting or daring experience’; which leaves things open to interpretation. For you, this could be the physical challenge of walking up mountains, the extremes of sailing oceans, travelling to new countries, or even closer to home; walking around a forest you haven’t explored before, or trying out a new hobby. It could be an hour, or it could last weeks.

Outdoor adventure and exercise are widely known for their mental health benefits, so much so that rambling is being prescribed as an alternative to medication by GP’s in Scotland. All of us experience the natural peaks and troughs where our comfort zones seem like the best place to be, but the low mood, lethargy and lack of motivation associated with depression or anxiety can make it especially difficult to do things that we know will make us feel better (afterwards, at least).

Most of us aspire to live more adventurously, and here’s a few tips to get motivated for an adventure when the reasons not to are getting in the way.


Make yourself accountable

Once you tell someone or book travel tickets you’re more likely to go ahead with your plans. Whilst some prefer solo adventures, bringing some friends along or joining a walking group is another good way to make things happen and make the experience more enjoyable too – it’s much easier to drop out of plans when we’re only letting ourselves down. Being spontaneous (but safe) is key to prevent us procrastinating and talking ourselves into the easier option.

Keep it simple

Having more decisions to make—such as timings, routes, accommodation, kit—can quickly complicate things and become overwhelming enough that you might not bother. Planning is important but sometimes over-planning just creates more obstacles to getting out there and enjoying the hidden surprises adventure brings. Small things like leaving your bag packed ready to go early in the morning helps create momentum and make things happen.

It’s important to be realistic though. Many of us juggle life commitments and responsibilities where vanishing into the mountains for the weekend might not be possible – this is the time to get creative. It’s much better to do something than nothing at all.

Enjoy the comforts

Bringing your favourite gear, snacks and luxuries can make a big difference. There’s an app for nearly everything you can imagine nowadays and a mobile phone like the Land Rover Explore Outdoor Phone can be invaluable.

Whether on the UK trails or venturing further abroad, it’s reassuring to have apps like OS Maps or ViewRanger for navigation, especially when they can operate with or without mobile signal. Listening to music, audiobooks and podcasts can be a great way to distract yourself and stay positive on long journeys.

Bad weather is often the first spanner in best laid plans, but with sufficient equipment and clothing it doesn’t need to be and can even make the experience more rewarding afterwards.

Focus on the pleasure rather than the pain

Motivation guru Tony Robbins often speaks about focusing on the pleasure rather than the pain. Like many things, we can create associations with bad experiences. If your last experience of camping was a soggy saga in a leaking shell with pegs pinging out of the field in sync, or your last hill-walk in Wales ended with losing your car keys on Tryfan, then our internal programming will avoid them in future for the line of least resistance. To get through these, we need to create positive associations, which means getting out there and making new ones.

Think about all the positive benefits your adventure will bring and how good it will feel afterwards, instead of the negatives, which you’ll probably find is quite self-explanatory.

Set a goal

If your adventure will help towards achieving a larger goal, such as completing a marathon or a bucket list of new places, it will increase the sense of achievement and adds purpose. Visualising reaching that goal will give a push in the right direction and another good reason to outweigh the excuses.

For the love of it

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine to do what you feel like doing, too. In between expeditions and adventure challenges many people report a lull in motivation once they haven’t got a goal to work towards. The constant need for a new and bigger challenge can quickly start to cloud the enjoyment factor.

There’s nothing wrong with going back to basics or repeating an adventure you’ve done before sometimes. Your adventure may not feel bold, Instagram-worthy or challenging, but sometimes we just need to get out there, without expectations, and enjoy the experience for ourselves to rediscover why adventure is so important.

What’s your Everest? The hardest part is taking the first step.

This article was written by record-breaking endurance adventurer, inspirational speaker and author Alex Staniforth. Check him out on Instagram and Facebook.