Lost your sense of adventure? It’s time to shake things up...

Sue says that her biggest challenge to date has been skiing across the Greenland Ice Cap

WHEN was the last time you really challenged yourself? We don’t mean running an extra kilometre on your daily run or asking for a promotion, we mean really challenged yourself with something you thought impossible?

Sue Stockdale is no stranger to a challenge — the adventurer has explored some of the world’s most extreme environments including the North Pole, Antarctica, Kenya and Greenland.

Inside her new book, Explore: A Life Of Adventure, you’ll find a memoir recounting her exploits and near-death experiences. But this is not simply a tale about her own amazing feats. As a transformational change coach, she brings her expert knowledge to look at how all of us could do with stepping outside our comfort zone, now and then.

Now 56, she caught the adventure bug after applying for a request for novice arctic explorers in a newspaper when she was 29.

After beating more than 500 applicants, she joined renowned explorer David Hempleman-Adams on a 30-day journey in one of the most extreme environments in the world and became the first British woman to ski to the Magnetic North Pole (below).

However, she says her biggest challenge was skiing 540km across the Greenland Ice Cap with a 50kg sledge. ‘At the highest point, we encountered a storm with -50C temperatures. Stuck in our tents for two days, we feared we would die.

‘Another challenging situation was when I was an expedition leader and had to extract a sick young boy from the remote mountains of Patagonia in Chile.

‘Sometimes getting through something challenging is simply about breathing and taking a moment to stop and think before acting.’

Sue advises approaching new challenges like an experiment. ‘This means it’s OK to fail and if we do, we can learn something. I used that technique when I launched my podcast, Access To Inspiration, and I still use that “experimentation” mindset today for new challenges. It somehow makes them seem less monumental.’

Sue also identifies what she calls the ‘busyness’ excuse for not stretching ourselves. ‘Being always busy can be a sophisticated avoidance technique to keep people where they are, doing more of the same.

‘This can be exacerbated when a person has a need to be liked, or they are following what they believe they should do, rather than slowing down to consider what they want to do.’ She is a big believer that people can achieve extraordinary things when they believe it is possible but says social media often gets in our way.

‘I think that life has become much more public so there is greater potential for judgement and comment. To achieve extraordinary things, we need to be prepared to not be liked, be the odd one out, or to be different.

‘The world is changing faster than ever before and this means stepping into the unknown, facing uncertainty and having the willingness to act. Staying in your comfort zone in order to be safe is really not possible today because the world around it changes. That’s how humans have evolved.’

Six ways to get out of your comfort zone

Sue Stockdale shares her top tips for beating complacency.

1. Try being curious and view each day as an adventure. For example, decide to walk on a different route to work or eat something different for breakfast.

2. Make the commitment to go outside and connect with nature — regardless of the weather. Splashing through puddles, leaning into the wind or finding shade when its sunny are all ways you can embrace the elements and feel alive.

3. Tackle your frustrations by drawing pictures instead of expressing your frustrations verbally, like a before and after image. By finding an alternative way to communicate with yourself, it can help you see the situation with new perspective.

4. Focus on strengths. When we remind ourselves what we’re good at and what we enjoy doing, it can increase our self-esteem and confidence and make us more able to tackle challenges.

5. Ask yourself: What’s the worst that can happen? If you can accept the consequence, then nothing is stopping you acting. Remember that making no decision is a decision. It’s inaction that can destabilise us.

6. People get stressed when they catastrophise, so to feel more in control, only focus on what’s within your control to change. Accept that there are many things in life we may not like but cannot do anything about.

Explore: A Life Of Adventure, £8.99, suestockdale.com