I'm not saying everybody has to go on wilderness survival trips (though, really, you should try it). Doing something that sucks might mean something totally different to you. Maybe it's spending a weekend on a sailboat, taking a polar bear plunge, or volunteering to organize an event. Just make sure there's a clear standard for success ("I'll drink less" is no good, but "No alcohol for a month" will work). Beyond that the only criterion is that whatever you choose should be hard and fill you with a mild sense of terror.
I know, I'm really selling this, right?
I do have some tips to make sure your experiment doesn't suck too much. Consider:
- Safety. If you're trying something you've never done before, make sure you consult with someone experienced (or better yet, bring one along) to make sure you're not taking any foolish risks.
- Preparation. I didn't just wake up one day and walk into the woods. I decided I wanted to do it, gave myself a few weeks to make sure I was committed, and then began to research places to learn the skills I would need.
- Have an exit strategy. When I started doing my own wilderness trips I had an emergency cell phone, friends with me, and two sets of keys to the car. If there was a problem we had a way to get help or leave.
- Don't use that exit strategy. Seriously, it's there for emergencies only. You'll find a hundred justifications to quit something that's hard, especially if no one's making you do it but you. Don't let anything make you quit short of a bona fide emergency.
A key part of the Heroic Path is learning new skills. One of the greatest skills you can learn is keeping it together under stress and trauma. Being the only calm person during an emergency is what causes people to trust and help you. So practice up!
And now two questions for you: What's the hardest thing you've ever chosen to do? And was it worth it?