How to Live a Life Full of Adventure

by David · 14 comments

I’m now living in Madrid, capital of Spain. I mentioned my plans to move out of London in my article ‘Confessions of a Mere Mortal’, so check that out if you want to know why I left.

Me in parque retiro, Madrid

I’ve only been in Madrid for a few days, but I’ve received a ton of messages from people wanting to know how I’m doing. I’m flattered that so many people are interested in my adventure. However I’m also little sad, because these messages give me the impression a lot of people don’t believe they can do what I’m doing.

Most messages I’ve received sound like this:

  • I wish I could do what you’re doing.
  • How could you just get up and leave London?
  • Aren’t you worried about how everything will turn out?
  • It’s always been my dream to live in another country, but I don’t have the courage.

I can relate. I know how scary it can be to wander off into the unknown, but at the same time I know it’s exciting. I know it’s daunting to approach a really big mountain, but I know reaching the top is rewarding. Just like you, I feel the emotions of fear and doubt. However I don’t allow them to control me.

I see human emotions as a system of feedback. Fear tells me I’m stepping into new territory, so I need to be a lot more alert. Doubt is an error checking emotion. Rarely are we one hundred percent certain about our decisions. There’s almost always an element of doubt. When we feel doubtful, we review our decisions, just to make sure they’re right for us. Emotions are a system of feedback.

So when I decided it was time to leave London, did I feel afraid? Did I feel doubtful? Absolutely, but I didn’t allow my emotions to control me. I had so many things going through my mind in the months leading up to my departure. What if I don’t find a job? What if I don’t like it there? What if my Spanish isn’t good enough? What if…? What if…? All of these questions share a theme: uncertainty. I’ve learned over the years that no matter how much I prepare I can never be certain of anything.

The hardest part of accomplishing anything in life is getting started. The anticipation of pain causes more suffering than actual pain. Set yourself free and get started.

In my case, getting started meant booking a plane ticket. I remember the moment clearly. I had just finished reading The Alchemist and I was about to get on the tube in London, but I stopped myself and in that moment decided I had to go on an adventure. I had to find a way to get started. I downloaded an app on my iPhone and booked a one way ticket out of London. The next step was selling my possessions. I remember thinking to myself: this isn’t so hard is it? All I had to do was get started.

I also remember thinking about learning Spanish for a long time. I kept telling myself I wasn’t smart enough, that I failed at German in school. And then I kept saying  I would get started next week. Then one day I got fed up of my own excuses and I decided to learn five phrases. I found an online chat room and practiced using what I had learned:


¿Como estas?

¿De donde eres?

¿Cuantos años tienes?

¿Como has estado hoy?


How are you?

Where are you from?

How old are you?

How have you been today?

I remember typing those phrases to different people in chat rooms and thinking: ’Wow! I’m speaking Spanish. This isn’t so hard after all.”

The hardest part of doing anything you want in life Is getting started.

So my question for you is simple:

What could you start doing today to live that life you want full of adventure?

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  • Tony

    Me and my partner left the UK a few years ago, and moved to Germany. I remember booking the one-way ticket, and feeling very excited at the time. A few years later, and we’re still here, wanting again to move on. I’ve got quite accustomed to using the language, and often find myself thinking to myself in German.

    Early last year we dropped everything and moved to the South of Spain. Not to sound negative, but I quickly realised Spain wasn’t for me. Maybe it was just the area, but there were just far to many British/German people everywhere (more than Spanish), and the Spanish people obviously held a grudge about it. It was often difficult to speak Spanish, because everyone just replied in English. After a few months I returned back home. But I was glad to have experienced it, and I can at least say I tried. Also, I didn’t like Madrid at all, for me it was too busy and noisy. But growing up in London, I’m guessing you are used to that 🙂

    I respect you for what you’re doing, and know how exciting it is. I’m not sure where to move onto next, as I haven’t yet really found a place I’d be happy to call “home”, and I’m always thinking that I’m just wasting time being in the same town/place everyday and not exploring the big wide world.

    • Hey Tony! Thanks sharing your experience.

      For me the exiting part of an adventure comes with me know knowing what is around the corner. I have no idea how long I’ll stay in Spain, but I have a feeling this won’t be a place I’ll want to live forever, but we’ll see.

      The world is so big and interesting, so I’m certain I’ll find what’s best for me eventually 🙂

  • David Howell

    Hey David, I think it’s great that you’re choosing not to let uncertainty get in your way! Once I finish Uni, I have plans to move to Germany, from America, for a year or so to improve my German and just live in another culture again for a while (I spent 5 weeks there last summer). I’m just curious, do you have a backup fund of money saved up, in case you don’t find a job immediately or are you completely improvising and hoping for the best? Thanks again for sharing this journey with us and best of luck! Viel Glück!

    • Hey! Thanks for dropping by. I think it’s great that you’re planning to move to Germany. Living in a foreign country is something I would recommend to everyone. The experiencing is so enriching.

      In response to your question: I have enough money to last a few months. Spontaneity is great, but a little preparation can take you a long way 🙂

  • Renan Sales

    It is
    really hard to try something new and I can say that because I am in the middle
    of a great change in my life. At first the doubts that you mentioned creep in
    but after while, when you look back, you see that you have grown more than you
    could imagine and this gives energy to keep on. My technique to surmount these
    doubt is write down all them on a piece of paper in order to figure out solutions
    for each one. This process of express your feeling helps to clarify the goal
    you want to achieve – It has been helping me a lot.

    Good luck!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. Writing is one of my favorite tools for dealing with internal conflict. Writing has helped me out of a lot of tricky situation.
      Thanks for dropping by and good luck with everything!


  • rrh

    I’ve gone through this a few times. It is proven that when stress hijacks or takes over control of your prefrontal cortex, you are unable to think logically. So, yes, it is essential that you control it to some degree. Thanks for sharing your advice. And thanks for your post about depression. You must have been bold to write about this!

    • It did take some guts to write about my depression. However the thought that there are lots of people who suffer in silence and feel they are all alone is what motivated me to share my story. We live in a culture that discourages us from sharing the parts of us that we are not happy about which in fact makes us human.

  • Greg Shepley

    Hi David, that sounds like an interesting positive step. In late 2004 I decided on doing something similar, I’d just finished uni and didn’t know what to do next, I’d been trying to learn Spanish that year and decide to pack up sticks and move to Madrid. I had a great time in Madrid, mostly spent with a couple of Brazilian tourists with whom I communicated with in my primitive Spanish. After a week I decided that Madrid wasn’t right for me at that moment in time, I too had been living in London for a few years and wanted a smaller city experience.

    I then ended up moving to Valencia, enrolling in a short term extensive Spanish course and a few months later I found a job in a big restaurant, which was perfect for helping me with my Spanish. This whole experience changed my life in various ways, one of which was through a love of languages.

    What advice could I give?

    Well if you go through a homesick spell, the first two weeks are generally the worst, after that it gets easier, so just try and get through that two week barrier.

    Intercambios are useful for short term support networks, and for helping you with your Spanish. Though in my experience these rarely lead to long term friendships as the people you are learning with will already have a network of friends, or may be looking for a change in their life and want to move away.

    Similarly English learners groups like those that do are useful for meeting people.

    If you are looking to live in a shared flat I would be open to living with other English people or other foreigners. This may seem against the grain of what you’ve moved to Spain for, when I was there I only wanted to speak with other native speakers, so my choice of where to live was based on this. However, finding a room in a flat share can be a very difficult experience, many people will be disinclined to have a foreigner live with them, and through frustration or desperation you may end up grasping opportunities that don’t feel right and living with difficult people. I would advise that you be open to living with either or other English people or other people newly arrived, these can then act as a support network through difficult emotional times. Though you’ll also have to be careful not to go to far the other way and move in with people who have no interest in learning Spanish.

    I hope that helps and if you want any more advise or anything then please let me know (you can contact me through my website , I find your unique angle of language learning / wider learning very interesting and would be only to happy to help someone in a similar adventure to the one I have embarked on.

    • Thanks for the tips.

      I live in a flat with one Spanish guy and I’m doing my best to avoid English by only making friends with Spanish natives. My Spanish is at the point where I can get my point across with just about anything. I just need to refine it. So right now I’m avoiding English like the plague! ^^;

      • Joe

        You should do a blog in Spanish then!

  • I think it’s wonderful you’ve just decided to get up and go like that. I can relate, since I did exactly the same thing over three years ago; I abandoned my military career to move to the Georgian Republic, a country I’ve always had an affinity with. I only spoke English and French (I lived in France when I was a teenager) and only knew a handful of people out here. Three years on, my Russian is fluent, my Georgian is intermediate, and I can read two new alphabets. I had plenty of people asking me how I could leave like that, and why to a former Soviet Republic (the stereotypes of Eastern Europe are as inaccurate as they are offensive). But I suppose I’ve been luckier than most in my teenage years, since I’ve travelled a lot; North America, central America, Europe, Africa, Japan…after that, it wasn’t so hard to leave, especially to a country that I’d always imagined living in. I don’t think people should be afraid of how to make money abroad, either. You find a way; so far, I’ve earned money through professional boxing, journalism, lecturing at universities (mostly on Afghanistan, but sometimes on the English and French languages) and drumming for a local jazz band. Nothing is impossible, and let no one tell you otherwise.

  • The Alchemist is great inspiration to get started on an adventure; I’m not surprised you bought your one-way ticket just after finishing it!

    Re. fear: I have used Tim Ferriss’ technique to highlight what exactly I was fearing when it came to starting my new adventure. It has really helped me get things rolling recently.

    Just as a side note: I have used this post for my ESL students as it is great for English learners in so many ways.

  • Lorrainne Mendez

    Hi!! I love this post!!! I feel really touch by it cause I’m really shy and that causes me many problems because I can not make new friends and make me doubt of myself. This is really encouraging and inspires me! I’ve visited Spain and I fell in love. My biggest dream in life is moving there and have many adventures. I’m young so I know I have to wait many years but one day I will be living there. Is fascinating to know that it is possible.

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