The Biggest Thing I’ve Learned Over 6 Years of My Outside Habit (Outdoor Diary)

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Humans Outside episdoe 326

It’s been *six years* since I started my daily outdoor habit, spending at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every single day, no matter what. I’ve learned countless things about myself, about the world and about how heading outside impacts me.

But the truth is there’s one big lesson I keep coming back to, and it’s the same thing I was battling the very first day I kicked off this adventure. It is without a doubt the most important, most impactful thing I’ve learned. It has, quite simply, changed my life — and it can change yours, too.

Listen now!

Some of the good stuff:

[:35] Happy outside anniversary to me!

[:50] What it looks like through numbers

[1:15] The story in case you forgot

[1:56] Here’s the big lesson

[2:40] Where I was reminded of all of this

[3:20] It wasn’t all roses, but also it was

[3:30] It’s always worth it, for real

[3:50] When I self-limiting, I am limited

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Six years. That’s how long I’ve been keeping my habit of heading outside for at least 20 consecutive minutes each day, no matter what.

Six year ago, on Sept. 1 2017, I started my streak. That makes over 2,093 days in a row, or a minimum of 41,860 minutes that I’ve spent outside.

Of course it’s way, way more minutes than that because I very often spend more than 20 minutes outside at a go. In the first year that was less often the case because of winter. But over time I have noticed that my tolerance for bad weather has changed, or maybe it’s something else.

Maybe it’s that I know the benefits outweigh any potential discomfort.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story. When I made the initial decision to give this a go, it was a rainy summer day and I was shall we say DISPLEASED that the weather wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I realized in that moment that if I was ever going to get outside it was often going to have to be despite what was there, not because of it. I hoped that by pushing through that barrier, I would find goodness and worthiness on the other side.

And boy have I. That finding has become the biggest lesson I’ve learned to date through my outdoor time. It was top of mind once again this week as I worked through a hike I was on, training for a Grand Canyon trip that’s set for this fall.

The lesson is this: my attitude is my biggest barrier.

If I’m convinced the weather is going to ruin something, it will. If I think it won’t be any fun because getting rained on is the worst, no fun will happen. If I allow myself to stay in the van instead of giving the trail it a try, the van will always be better. If I think I don’t have time to go outside every day, I will never have time.

When I self-limiting, I am limited.

The truth hit me as I was hiking up the bowl between two mountain peaks. Believe me, I did not want to be out there in the pouring rain. But with this grand canyon trip coming up, I’m uniquely motivated to not delay training, so when it’s on the calendar for the only time I have to do it, I’m going. That’s not to say I have to like it. And it’s not say that I didn’t linger in my van for 10 extra minutes scowling at the rain before getting out there, because I totally did.

Soaking wet from head to toe and slopping through mud, I looked around at all the changing fall colors. Towards the grown, blazing red and vibrant green from the bushes. Up high, soft yellow from the changing lichen. Grey rocks of the peaks towered above. The clouds lifted a little, and I looked down on the busy little town, the river winding through it. And I thought – wow, I can’t believe I wanted to let the rain keep me in the car.

Was the hike wet? Yes. Hard? Yes. Have unpleasant moments? You bet. Include some challenging mud slipping? For sure.

Worth it? Absolutely, 100 percent yet.

Not every day is a dramatic mountain hike, but I’ve yet to find a single moment getting out there that wasn’t worth it even in its own small way. Across 2,093 days there have been many, many, MANY MANY MANY times that I did not want to go. But there has not been one single solitary time that I was sorry in the end that I went.

When I am self-limiting, I am limited.

This lesson about always finding something good outside when I push past my own attitude makes me think about what other things in my life are limited not because of actual barriers, but because of the ones I’ve fabricated.

Over the past six years I know I’ve become better at trying new things, taking risks in my work, having scary conversations to better my relationships and so much more. I credit this directly to my daily practice of going outside and that it often includes pushing past my self-assigned barriers.

What would you find in your own life if you made a practice of ceasing to assign self-limitations. It’s just something to think about.

And of course I’m still trying many new things outside, or leaning into all the benefits of the things I’ve grown to love and now do again and again. You can see photos of all of my daily time on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see your photos, too. Share them with #humasoutside365.

Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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