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Lessons I’ve Learned from Taking the Scenic Route Through Life

The California Pacific Coast Highway is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. It also takes a hell of a lot longer to drive from LA to San Francisco on this highway, so most people don’t make the time to drive up PCH. They usually drive up the 5 freeway which is mainly just endless fields of cattle and produce. It’s not practical to drive up PCH so most people don’t do it.

By conventional measures, I’m not exactly what you’d call a poster child for success. While I’ve been fighting my own demons about this on some level, a few days ago I realized that all I’ve really done differently is taken the scenic route through life. Along the way I’ve learned a few things and I thought I’d share them with you.

Things I’ve Learned Along the Scenic Route

Taking the scenic route tends to be interesting but if you are in too much of a damn hurry, you actually miss the point of taking the scenic route. Along the route I’ve failed quite a bit, most of those failures led me to where I’m at today. As Steve Jobs once said in a commencement speech, the dots connect when you look back at them. My early 20’s made me feel like a stranded tourist ending up in places that did nothing more than leave me with about 20 life lessons from my 20’s.  But I’m starting to realize that even a letter to my younger self wouldn’t have made a difference and that letter might have even make taken me down the practical path (something I don’t think I was ever meant to do.)

Most of my early goals and aspirations were nothing more than the ego driven pursuit of a life that looks good on paper. It only took me 32 years and 32 lessons from those years to realize that. I think that the 8 hour work day doesn’t make sense and if you plan to take the scenic route, then it might not make sense to you either. The way I see it you have two big choices in life that will really determine the quality of your life experience: You can either make a short term sacrifice for a long term gain or you can make a long term sacrifice for a short term game. I recommend the first.

When you do decide to take the scenic route you have to be willing to stop living in a world that’s based on rules and start making your own. It’s not easy and you’ll be ridiculed quite a bit (often by the people closest to you), but in the end it’s completely worth it. After all, a life worth living is one that is not based on other people’s expectations. Make sure you find a passion that lights your eyes up and have something to look forward to every single day.

When you face the fear of uncertainty, just realize it has a flip side. Usually that flip side is bliss and occasionally it’s pain. Risk is just a natural part of taking the scenic route and if you’re afraid of taking risks then you’re going to find yourself turning back to start the journey over and over.  Keep in mind that no matter how bad the conditions are that you should embrace the winds of change and realize that there is always another wave coming.

Somewhere along the journey you might realize that you are actually addicted to the life you are trying to escape. Don’t worry, since it’s really a waste of time and energy. Awareness is the first step. When you start to just play for your love of the game, it all gets better.  The angle you look at things from will really determine the quality of your experience.

Make sure you really understand the difference between settling and settling down. If you don’t, it will seriously screw up your life. If there’s one thing worth putting some serious effort into, it’s overcoming the fear of who you really are in order to discover your most magnetic qualities.

Inevitably, whether you take the scenic route or not, there will be problems in your life. Just know that life’s biggest problems are often the biggest blessing in disguise. When you have an opportunity to make certain choices, I recommend that you choose a life made up of experiences rather than one made up of possessions.

Here’s a few other road signs along the scenic route:

The scenic route tends to come with a quite a few completely unexpected detours. But, if it was completely predictable then it really wouldn’t be that much fun. So, in conclusion all I can say is this. There’s really nothing wrong with me. I’ve just chosen to take the scenic route through life.

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