‘The road less travelled’ You often hear this phrase banded about by independent people or those trying to step outside the box and forge a new direction. There are books written on the subject along with various songs and poems. But what does it actually mean?
Taking the road less travelled is about making your own choices; likely choices that the mainstay wouldn’t take out of fear of the unknown. Ooh…very scary!
It means being a risk taker and creating new pathways by blazing a trail. There’s a lot of courage in doing this because there’s no guarantee it will lead to where you want it to, unlike the road that has been travelled by many which is tried and tested.
The road less travelled is is likely to be harder and fraught with challenge. Imagine walking through a wood and going off on a tangent through the bracken. You may get to your destination quicker than the usual path or you could get lost. There is no doubt you will not come out unscathed or without having learnt something. Adventure certainly awaits those willing to stray from convention.
The road less travelled brings growth through experience and if you give this thought some consideration, there aren’t many experiences you’d wish you’d never had.
The absence of risk is a sign of mediocrity
Many people try to avoid risk and prefer to take the conventional path for an easier life; usually this is due to fear. It’s very frightening to step outside the norm and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. However, in my honest opinion, if you don’t do that, you will exist rather than live; Is mediocrity a life of fulfilment?
But, staying in your comfort zone and sticking to comfortable routines minimises the level of stress. Being at peace with ourselves ensures relative happiness, little anxiety and some form psychological security. That’s all well and good but don’t expect life changing results from a life lived this way.
Pushing yourself to a level of extreme stress is also not favourable as this will result in you jumping ship and reverting to type C – comfort under the blanket. However, there is a level of stress that is actually beneficial to our productivity and can help us achieve outstanding results. This is called optimal anxiety which is a level of stress that is just outside our comfort zone.
Comfort is a productivity sponge because there is no drive, ambition or deadline to surge us forward so we have no reason to perform. Pushing boundaries a little and outside of this area will help you deal with challenge, breed motivation and get rid of any fear associated with calculated risk. It will also help you achieve a higher level of creativity which enables growth from new ideas and information.
Safe spaces don’t win races
It’s very easy to sit in one’s comfort zone and shake our worried heads at the risk takers because there’s always an element of failure as likely as there is success. There is chance to anything when you paddle in unchartered waters but if you step outside rather than run, the likelihood is that you will succeed rather than not. There is good reason to fear the extreme because it is so far removed from where you’re standing, but a small sidestep can bring a welcome opportunity and offers less risk. Forcing ourselves to this level of optimal anxiety can help us to face fear head on and realise we were were worrying for nothing and that rewards come to those who are prepared to push the boundaries.
I’m going to pull a few quotes from a book called “The Road Less Traveled” by M.Scott Peck. This is book I read many years ago which explores various avenues of enlightenment but offers some pretty sound advice:
- The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
There you go! The only way to break through and achieve is to when in optimal anxiety. See, I wasn’t making this up….
- Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”
Value is created by having confidence. Confidence grows when we forge forward and face fears. Recognise your value and utilise your time effectively.
- “If we know exactly where we’re going, exactly how to get there, and exactly what we’ll see along the way, we won’t learn anything. ”
I can’t think of anything more depressing or disheartening. You may as well be a hamster on a continuous wheel.
- “It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually. ”
Otherwise how do you learn? You don’t.
- “There is no worse bitterness than to reach the end of your life and realise you have not lived.”
Throw the comfort blanket out. Unless you want to go to your grave with the music still inside you…Do you? Didn’t think so.
Step outside a and live a little. Take the road less travelled and burn your blanket on the way.
Author, Writer, Storyteller
Jules has an eclectic and colourful history creating stories, writing, articles, blogs, and art philosophy.