Building my own compass

Last week, I spent two nights alone in the bush. I carved my life out of sand and sticks. I scaled a rock wall blindfolded. I swam with my shoes on. I shared a breath with a beech tree. I surfed ocean waves in a kayak. I made firm friends with eight perfect strangers.

Clearly, it was no ordinary week.

That’s because last week, I was on an Outward Bound “Discovery” course. Designed for 27-45 year olds, it promises to help you “rediscover what's important to you and what you're really capable of.”

I’ve actually been on an Outward Bound course before; right after finishing university. Surely I already know what I am really capable of?

Actually, no.

And that’s because I am currently standing at one of life’s great crossroads. You know, that place where trails lead off in every direction. Where the sign has fallen over, or perhaps was never even there. Where the destination is just out of sight.

What I learnt on Outward Bound five years ago was invaluable. But I have come so far since then; I’m in a very different place now. And so I went on this Discovery course to reassess what I am really capable of, in this new and exciting turning point of my life.

I had already chosen to go true North when I left the law industry. For me, true North represents a path that matches my values, my strengths and lastly my skills. True North represents a decision that fits a job to my preferences, rather than fitting my preferences to a job.

The only problem was that, before going on Outward Bound (again), I wasn’t 100% sure which path pointed towards true North. I hoped to build myself a metaphorical compass, and maybe pick up a few new things along the way.


I learnt what a gratitude practice truly looks like. I realised how often I speak in the negative. I let my past teach me about my present. I experienced the success that comes with visualisation. I reframed what goal-setting means for me. I recognised my drive to be a ‘helper’. And I strengthened my connection with the wilderness.

As for true North, it is true what they say on Outward Bound; “there is more within you”. I had the answers in my pocket all along. With the help of my two instructors and my eight watchmates, I pulled them out and built my metaphorical compass.

I might not be on true North just yet, but I’m now armed with a compass (which incidentally doubles as my confidence) and a reminder of the power of self-discovery in the outdoors. I’ve discovered how I might move forward, and where I used to be apprehensive about it, I’m now excited about it.

Looking forward to sharing some more details in coming weeks. In the meantime, I intend to accompany my day’s to-do list with a piece of gratitude, a choice on who I will be for the day, and a challenge to get into the green.

One more thing; if the sound of an Outward Bound course strikes a chord with you, definitely get in touch. I could talk about the greatness of the outdoors alllllll day.

Anna Watson