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Being brave: what a week walking in Iceland can teach us



Oct 12, 2021

While we do like to look on the bright side at Goodmans, the last 18 months or so have brought more than their fair share of uncertainty and worry. With widespread lockdowns and restrictions on movement, we’ve all had to modify our behaviour, change or cancel plans, and rethink how we spend our time.

Now that things have eased up a bit, your comfort level may have returned to about where it was pre-pandemic, with life being close to normal again. Or you may still be wary, and feel uneasy about behaviour and activities you would have previously done without a second thought.

Where you stand here is highly personal and we’re not suggesting one approach is better than the other. What we do want is for everyone to challenge themselves to live their best life possible. And that can often take real courage, especially in these unusual times.

The right kind of bravery

Being brave isn’t the absence of fear, it’s the ability to overcome it.

Fear is triggered by the body sensing danger, so in many cases, being brave won’t be the right thing to do – we don’t recommend climbing into the lion’s enclosure at the zoo, say. And in the context of an ongoing pandemic, you should still take as much care as you can, for the safety of yourself and others around you. But there’ll be times when getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself is exactly what you need to live a more fulfilling life.

An Icelandic excursion

Those of you who know our Directors, Andrew and Finbarr, won’t find it surprising that their idea of a summer holiday is hiking several hours a day on a remote, volcanic island. Like many in the Goodmans community, being in the great outdoors – with mental and physical effort rewarded by spectacular scenery – makes for a good day. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still a challenge.

After over a year of worrying headlines and limited movement, there was an additional layer of bravery involved for this mission. And with the prospect of any foreign travel being far from straightforward, it took some extra planning (and several PCR tests) to make it work. But they got there.

Our resident explorers were taking on the Laugavegur Trail, a 34-mile (55 km) hike, over the course of four days. It doesn’t pretend to be easy, especially with the temperamental Icelandic climate, but it does deliver spectacular and varied scenery unlike anywhere else on Earth. Think lunar landscapes with skies that go on for miles, multi-tonal mountains, smoky valleys, geological marvels and utter silence. Bucket list material.

One man’s bravery…

They do say that anything easy isn’t worth doing, and that hard work brings its own rewards. But bravery is relative – everyone has their own comfort zone, and even that will change over time – so what takes courage will vary from person to person.

Picture this: Andrew and Finbarr, on day one of the Iceland trip, feeling pretty pleased with themselves for taking on such an intrepid journey, heading to their hut for the night after a solid day of challenging walking. What do they find? An empty shelter for their tired legs and weary heads, somewhere to quietly reflect upon the day’s experiences? Not quite – they found 31 Icelandic women on a walking trip, recharging before the next day’s efforts.

And here’s the thing. Not only does the definition of bravery vary by individual, so does access to the opportunities to act upon it. What would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a PCR-loaded plane ride for one person, is a regular weekend with the girls for another. It still comes with challenges and rewards, but the potential to take it on in the first place is (in this case, quite literally) oceans apart. The best way to show your gratitude for the opportunities you have within your grasp is to make the most of them. After all, they might not be around forever.

Seizing the day

If this past year and a half has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t know what’s around the corner, and that life as we know it can change in an instant. Enjoy it while you can. That’s why the heart of the Goodmans approach to financial planning is all about helping you live the life you want and deserve.

Being brave needn’t be as dramatic as a week walking the volcanoes of Iceland to help you live your best life. It can be just getting back out there – going to the cinema, reaching out to an old friend, learning to meditate, taking on a new hobby… or choosing to retire early and pursue your passions.

Alas, we don’t know how to say ‘seize the day’ in Icelandic so we’ll just have to go with good old-fashioned Latin: Carpe diem. See you on the mountaintop!