‘Everyone can be an ambassador for adventure in their daily life. It’s all about talking the talk and walking the walk every day. There is a world of adventure to explore every time you step outside your front door’. Anna-Marie Watson.
Half the battle of committing to and completing an adventure, whether it be big or small, is convincing ourselves that we can do it. Performance coach, founder of ‘Reach for More’, ex-military Officer and qualified expedition leader, Anna-Marie Watson, believes that the human body is capable of amazing things and that it is the mind that stops us. She has been able to overcome and push her mental and physical boundaries through participation in extreme endurance events such as the Ultra Trail World Tour Future Series, Ironman 70.3 World Championships and Marathon des Sables (where she was the second female to finish in 2015). Drawing on her own experiences, Anna-Marie encourages others to commit to and achieve their goals through her performance coaching. Women’s Adventure Expo are lucky enough to have Anna-Marie lead a workshop at our ‘Create Your Own Adventure Brand’ event at the end of the month, so we thought it was time to find out a bit more about this amazing lady……
Anna-Maria, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. As you know, Women’s Adventure Expo is all about inspiring women to get out there and have an adventure and clearly your role as a performance coach is to do the same, but who inspires you to get out there and complete your many challenges and why?
My dad has been a key role model and source of inspiration for me throughout my life. He has a great love of the outdoors, an innate curiosity of the world, passion for running and infectious positive outlook on life. I grew up during the 80s and 90s in the pre Easyjet era where travel wasn’t as commonplace as now. I was lucky to experience my first glacier aged two months in Norway, though some might call that child abuse now!
Holidays were the highlight of the year and I distinctly remember family planning conferences where we all had the opportunity to share ideas. Our Indian and Nepali adventure in 1990 involved a combination of seeing the Taj Mahal (my mum’s idea), Everest (my brother’s request), animals in Chitwan National Park (my idea) and trekking in the Gurkha Himal east of the Annapurna region (my dad’s suggestion).
The Meek Family adopt a similar philosophy and I particularly like their quote ‘Adventure is out there; you just have to go and find it’. I would definitely recommend checking out their blog ( http://www.dotrythisathome.com ) or reading their book ‘100 Family Adventures’. It is also worth emulating the younger generations’ natural curiosity of the world; we could and should learn to adopt their inquisitive nature and explore the marvel of everyday life that surrounds us.
Ultimately I’m inspired by anyone who genuinely follows their dreams and is willing to take a risk to follow their passion. I love to surround myself with a network of inspirational people to bounce ideas around and draw motivation from each other. Social media can be a really helpful tool to remind yourself what you can achieve when you focus and combat any brief negative ‘wobble’.
So what is really exciting in the world of adventure at the moment?
It’s super exciting that the adventure ‘movement’ is slowly beginning to infiltrate mainstream thought as a counter-reaction to normal Western ‘everyday life’. The internet has been a great tool to share ideas and connect a wider community of like-minded individuals. Adventurers are able to attract widespread attention and over the last few months I’ve been influenced by Dave Cornthwaite ( http://sayyesmore.com ) with his strap line of ‘Say Yes More’ and Alistair Humphreys ( http://www.alastairhumphreys.com ) who created the concept of #microadventures. The Women’s Adventure Expo movement is part of this growing world and I’m delighted to be supporting the ‘Create Your Own Brand’ event in January 2017.
Some cynics might argue the ‘Golden era’ of adventure is over as there are no more new continents to discover and the classic ‘firsts’ were achieved years ago where adventurers cycled, walked, ran, hopped, Boris biked, taken a shopping trolley around/up/down everything etc. This ‘doing’ mind-set can limit the wider concept of adventure where the focus shifts to a more all-encompassing and transformational phenomenon that changes your perception of life where adventure is a state of ‘being’.
Everyone can be an ambassador for adventure in their daily life. It’s all about talking the talk and walking the walk every day. There is a world of adventure to explore every time you step outside your front door.
We couldn’t agree more. It is a very exciting time to be involved in the adventure industry. What are you doing for yourself right now, which is just to improve your adventure?
The start of a new year is a classic time to take stock and start afresh. I’ve adopted a dual pronged approach for 2017 to cover all bases. I’ve decided to pursue a BIG adventure later in the year that’s currently in the planning phase and also appreciate the smaller precious moments in life that sometimes can pass by unnoticed.
That sounds like you’ve got a busy and fun-packed year ahead of you. What does it mean to you, to be able to fill your life with adventure?
Adventure is pretty much the whole point of life! Day to day existence would be a pretty dull otherwise. Adventure ignites a spark to counterbalance the monotonous daily grind where you can find yourself stuck in a rut.
I believe being able to fill your life with adventure is about rejecting the status quo and challenging yourself on different levels. I try to set myself the challenge to embrace adventure on a daily basis. This can mean resisting the temptation of evening screen time to wrap up warm, grab a torch and head outdoors on an evening running adventure for example.
The UK has a wealth of stunning countryside on our doorstep simply waiting to be explored. You don’t necessarily have to physically or mentally destroy yourself on every adventure you embark upon. It can be a simply decision to take a different route to work, try out the new local restaurant, rustle up something you’ve never created in the kitchen, visit a different Parkrun on the weekend, pencil in a weekend mini break somewhere you’ve never been, then on a larger scale start planning to make the BIG adventure real.
You have accomplished and experienced a lot in adventure and adventure sport. What is the last thing you did which you don’t ever want to forget?
Every day possesses an element of adventure and I try to savour each of these small moments. That said, it’s definitely work in progress and there are some special events that I particularly cherish. Casting my mind over 2016, winning the Salomon Cappadocia 100km Ultra trail in Turkey was definitely an unforgettable moment. I was lucky to have a mini documentary filmed by the Turkish channel TRT from Beyond the Game (http://youtu.be/QZQ-j-eQXp8 ) and it’s the perfect reminder of my adventure.
Looking back across my life the common themes behind all my memories I don’t want to ever forget are the great outdoors, a sense of adventure and camaraderie amongst kindred souls. I love to explore the world around me and I can recall fond memories of placing second lady in the Marathon des Sables in 2015, leading student expeditions in the Himalayas or working alongside soldiers during my military career as an officer in the British Army.
Many of us have ideas about doing things, having an adventure or making a change but either convince ourselves otherwise or just never really get around to it. What would you say to anyone who is settling for what they do, rather than doing what they believe in?
In a nutshell, I’d pose the question ‘You only have one life. How are you going to spend it?’. I’m always struck by the findings from a series of interviews conducted by Bronnie Wrare, a palliative nurse in her the book ‘The Top Five Regrets of The Dying:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
If you’re a bit stuck or you’re yearning for something more from life, have the courage to change. Don’t let another day slip past. Start today.
Do something. Anything. Different.
Do you think as women we speak to ourselves and accept things about ourselves, which we wouldn’t allow or like someone else to say to us? If so, how do we stop?
Yes! We can be SO critical of ourselves. We’d be horrified and disgusted if a family member, friend or work colleague spoke to us in the same manner as our resident internal critic or the unwelcome obnoxious flatmate who lives in our head as named by Adriana Huffington in her book ‘Thrive’ (http://ariannahuffington.com/thrive). Everyone has their own embedded mantra or limiting belief that was created back in the depths of history and has been re-enforced over time. This deep-rooted fear based on poor judgement, confidence, perceived ability or intelligence can be the default setting for any form of Self Imposed Doubt (SIDs) and Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs).
When your mind starts to wander, make a conscious effort to catch your thoughts, banish any negativity and replace them with a positive reference. Recent scientific discoveries into the realm of neuroplasticity has revealed it’s possible to change engrained behavioural habits and re-programme your brain over time.
And finally Anna-Marie, your life is brimming with adventure, so what are the three biggest lessons adventure has taught you.
You can talk yourself in and out of anything.
Everyone knows something you don’t.
Your capabilities are beyond your comprehension.
Well, we think you’ll agree that Anna-Marie has a positively inspiring and infectious way of thinking about life and adventure. Thank you so much Anna-Marie for taking the time to answer our questions.
If you would like to hear more from this lovely lady you can sign up for her ‘Psychological Skills’ workshop at our ‘Create Your Own Adventure Brand’ Event in Bristol on 28th January 2017 (tickets available through our website).
By Vicky Taylor for the Women’s Adventure Expo