I jumped out of an airplane and it changed my life

I’ll admit that headline is a little click-batey to me, but it works. This is about skydiving, choices and motivation.

Motivation is an interesting word to me. It means the “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way,” or “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”

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Essentially, motivation is the the why behind our actions. We did this because of this.

I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and why I do some of the things I do in a number of areas of my life. I think what brought this on was a pretty incredible experience that I had a few weeks ago.

I went skydiving. I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane on a perfectly beautiful day. Before you ask, it was incredible. That’s the first question I get. The next question is usually “What made you want to do that? Why on earth would you subject yourself to the sheer terror included with launching yourself from an airplane 13,000 feet in the air?”

So, that’s what led me to have some thoughts about motivation. Why did I go skydiving?

A huge part of it was that I work at Skydive Snohomish.

Once you work there for a month, you get a complimentary tandem skydive. Who am I to turn down the opportunity to knock this one off the bucket list gratis?

While the jump being free was a sizeable incentive, that alone was not enough to get me to do it.

It would help me do my job. Contrary to popular belief, just because I work at a skydiving place does not mean that I must be the one jumping from planes all day. I work at an airport and I watch people jump out of planes all day, from the relative safety of my desk. However, in my first month of working, I was constantly asked if I had jumped and teased in good fun from customers and coworkers alike for selling customers on the benefits and the experience, without having jumped myself.

When I did jump, my instructor Kory summed it up well when he said in my video “Can you believe that this one works here, sells the product, and hasn’t even tasted it herself?”

(If you want to know how my face looks when I’m scared out of my damn mind, check the video out here).

That was a huge motivating factor, and I can tell you that it has helped me do my job, but that was still not enough to get me into that airplane. The biggest motivating factor in actually going through with this was my family.

I would like to  think that that is true for a lot of decisions that I make. I want to make them proud. I want to surprise them. I want them to be happy. There’s not a lot of things that compare to overhearing my mom brag about me to her friends.

Going skydiving was completely out of left field for this anti-rollercoaster woman. Case in point, I have spent many an vacation sitting on a bench while my family went on tower of terror or some other God-forsaken adrenaline monstrosity. No amount of peer pressure or cajoling could get me onto one of those.

However, skydiving was different. I’ve mentioned the other motivating factors, I work there, I was comfortable, I felt safe, but the joy that I felt when I landed and my family was on the runway, smiling, with looks of complete shock on their faces compares to nothing I’ve experienced before.  I’ll be chasing that high for a while.

I guess the takeaway for me from this whole experience is that approval is a significant motivating factor for me, also competition because I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t already held my skydiving experience over my family’s heads.

This experience was a reminder to keep in check what my motivations are. In some areas, being motivated to do something because of someone else is perfectly acceptable, noble even. As long as it’s still your decision, doing something because of someone else is a great reason. Don’t do things just because someone else wants you to do them. Peer pressure sucks, don’t give it and don’t give into it.

Doing things for yourself is important as well. For the big things in my life, I sometimes have to remember to ignore what others think. Not my family, their opinion is important, but I have to remind myself that doing things because I want to do them is ok too.

I want to make a habit of checking in with myself about decisions, big ones and little ones. Why am I doing this? Will this decision affect more than myself? Am I doing this because someone is asking me? Telling me? Will this decision do more to help or hurt me in the near future or in the long run?

I jumped out of plane and had an redefining life moment. I also had an incredible time and I can’t wait to do it again.  


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