Ever faced a long, daunting project, the scale of which set your anxieties astir? Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman did so when they embarked on a four-month motorcycle journey around the world, following a route that included some of the toughest riding conditions on the globe.
Here are a few tips from their book, Long Way Round, about facing down your inner demons and just getting on with it:
- The secret to any long journey or project is to take it in blocks — little chunks that you can process and manage bit by bit. A week into their 29,000-plus-kilometre journey, McGregor writes: “Even now, I couldn’t conceive of the scale of our undertaking. For months [before the trip] I had been talking people through the map [of our route]. Now I was sitting on my bike riding it. . . . But I still couldn’t fathom the distance ahead. The secret, I felt, was to take the journey in little blocks. Morning til coffee break. Coffee til lunch. Lunch til mid-afternoon break. . . . By breaking it up into chunks, we’d make it manageable. But the moment my mind drifted to the bigger picture . . . , the journey became overwhelming and panic set in.”
- As the journey progresses, it’s also important not to let setbacks and disappointments get you down. Obstacles will crop up, and when they do, they may appear overwhelming. But if you take the time to step back and examine your situation from a broader perspective — one that looks beyond the obstacle looming right in front of you — you may see that the bigger picture is more important than the immediate, in-your-face details. McGregor and Boorman faced abysmally difficult roads in Mongolia — so bad that McGregor wanted to pack up and get out. But as he talked about his dilemma with his team, he realized that turning tail would rob him of the opportunity to experience more of a country that was already affecting him on a deep emotional level. Fighting through the roads might be difficult and put the trip “behind schedule”, but did that really matter in the long run? “It’s hard here,” Boorman tells McGregor, “it’s really hard. But it’s also really beautiful and we just have to concentrate more on the beauty and less on the hardship. . . . We [need] to open our eyes to our surroundings. Any journey [is] difficult when the field of vision [is] just five feet ahead of you.”