Seven Steps to Adventure

A triathlete’s guide to making your wildest dreams into your wildest realities.

The four endurance athletes of ‘Why Bhutan?’ adjust to the altitude at 15,000 feet. (Photo: Why Bhutan? via Flickr)

Nov 18, 2011

When Terri Schneider, an accomplished endurance athlete and longtime friend, asked me a year ago to be part of the four-member Expedition Bhutan team, I knew to ask no questions and answer confidently, “Yes!”

Home to the world’s highest unclimbed peak and the mythic Abominable Snowman, the enigmatic, inaccessible Himalayan kingdom has captured my curiosity for two decades.

In the year that we spent preparing for the journey, I made notes of how we grew this glimmer of a dream into a grand-scale adventure. So often I hear about people shelving their plans for adventures on “Someday Isle,” never taking steps to make the experiences of a lifetime become reality.

In the end, what matters is not only living your dream, but the valuable experience leading up to it. Stumble forward.

The hope here is to share the process that worked for us in fanning our sparks of dreams into raging bonfires of adventure—and inspire you to fire up your own.

1) Unabashedly, dream big. Be bold now! Connect your adventure to your underlying passions. Acknowledge your feelings of insecurity and the monumental logistics involved, but don’t let them stand in your way.

2) Give your dreams a voice. Talk about your dream. Learn from what others around you have done. Inspiration will come from unexpected places.

3) Gather support. Surround yourself with people who will feed your dreams. Some may be great sounding boards. Others may connect you to a permit you are after. Someone may turn out to be that steadfast cheerleader who carries you through moments of despair.

4) Assemble a team. If you want a band of cannibals, first find cannibals. Most adventures benefit by having a team working toward the collective goal. Find committed, like-minded people in your circles who can build on the ideas, offer positive strengths to the team, and who all work well together.

5) Pick a date. Be specific about when and where your dream will happen. Make it real to yourself and to those around you. Keep yourself in the commitment daily.

6) Make consistent progress. Work toward the goal in a consistent and organized manner. Logistics, training, finances and timing all feel monumental in the beginning. Chipping away on a regular basis moves you closer to your dream.

7) Be adaptable. The original vision may morph as the journey unfolds. Allow that to happen—while staying connected to the passion that birthed the adventure.

In the end, what matters is not only living your dream, but the valuable experience leading up to it. Stumble forward. Take the first steps knowing that the journey to the starting line can be as enriching as the adventure itself.

Tony Lillios is part of the Expedition Bhutan team—four endurance athletes making their way across Bhutan by foot and by bike over 42 days in an unprecedented border-to-border crossing. A team of documentary filmmakers is following the athletes during their time in country. Chart the journey at 15,000 feet at

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