Jumping out of a plane is a lot like giving birth – it is an overwhelming sensory experience, it is painful (not physically, just on the wallet), and in both instances you ask yourself ‘what the heck was I thinking?’
The Top 40 Bucket List
A tandem skydive was the very last activity in my year of ticking off 40 bucket list items to celebrate my significant birthday milestone during 2016. I was happy to end the bucket list on such a high note (literally) but I was also kicking myself that I had not done the skydive much earlier in the year.
In fact, that is one of the main things I learned from jumping out of a plane – if you are really scared of something you should try and do it sooner rather than later. Anticipation can multiply your fears into a spider web of worry and stress, unless you manage them well (as I guess you should try to do for labour and birth). I didn’t just have a one hour drive and the twenty minute plane ride to think about the jump, but almost 365 days to stew on it.
So I would like to share with you some things I learned from jumping out of a plane. Then if you ever decide to do something as ridiculous as strapping yourself to a stranger and leaving a functioning aircraft at 13,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, you would have benefitted from my insights beforehand.
Wisdom from Two Miles Up
Firstly, as they say ‘eat that frog’. If something seems daunting, do it as soon as you can. Do not procrastinate. You will either not do it at all or do it with so many scary thoughts inside you that you won’t enjoy the experience. I am almost a bit jealous of the guy who turned up at the skydiving spot with a blindfold on and was told by his gleeful friends that he was getting a tandem jump for his birthday.
Setting deadlines is ultra important if you want to do things. I set a goal to tick 40 things off my bucket list during the calendar year of 2016. I jumped out of a plane on the 30th December, one day before my deadline. Yes it was self-imposed. And no one would care if I jumped out on the 1st January 2017. But I would. As I had completed the rest of the list and there was a deadline looming, completing the jump became more important than the fear.
Stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while is really good for you. And there are not a lot of things in this world that are further out of your comfort zone than jumping out of a plane. Afterwards, I felt like a superhero.
People ask me what I was thinking during 45 seconds of free-fall and I don’t really know. I can tell you what I was NOT thinking about and that was my inbox. Jumping out of a plane reminds us to live in the present moment, which is what everyone needs more of in this frantic world. Although from now on, I can remind myself of this with my feet firmly on the ground.
Perhaps the most surprising learning was now I have done a tandem skydive, other things seem less frightening. Since then I have seen a film (‘The Cabin in the Woods’) that I previously decided was too terrifying to watch. I am looking forward to where my newfound courage takes me – I may one day be quite okay being in close quarters with a spider.
Best Year Ever
Completing the bucket list, and especially the skydive, contributed to 2016 being the best year of my life (so far). I was trying to work out what made it so great and came up with a few reasons.
Firstly, I designed the bucket list to cover many things I had wanted to do for some time. I felt in control of my own life, and that is a rarity these days. Also, the whole idea took some planning and hard work to execute and when I put time and effort into things I often feel more satisfied. I was probably better off than the guy who got the surprise tandem jump gift after all. Plus as I set myself a challenge and told everyone about it I built discipline, confidence and integrity. These are attributes I always want more of and I hope they rub off onto my children too.
And in case this is getting too ‘rah-rah’ motivational for you, what I would really like my children and others to learn from all this is that life is for living.
So live it.
Have some fun.
This is not a selfish sentiment. It is actually the complete opposite. Doing something that fills you up inside and gives you a boost of joy makes you happier and this is then spread to your loved ones and the world at large.
So jump out of plane and save the world.