Explorers are never bored for long. Their lives are filled with mystery, adventure, and the thrill of the unknown. While that may sound more aspirational than attainable, a few small adjustments to your routine could release the explorer inside you — you may even be just the type of person National Geographic's Expedition Granted competition is looking for. The following guidelines will help you approach the world in a fresh, curious way: the first step to exploration of any kind.
Fashion photographer and filmmaker Steven Sebring made his name shooting campaigns for M.A.C. and Coach, but he couldn't stop thinking about discovering a new way to photograph people as art. To feed his curiosity, he researched 19th-Century photographer Eadweard Muybridge and the artist Marcel Duchamp, which inspired him to create a specialized rig of 100 cameras that can record a single moment from a ridiculous number of viewpoints. A simple step to work your own curiosity muscle is to ask questions about subjects that interest you, and better yet, subjects that don't. Instead of dismissing things as "boring," search for an angle that intrigues you. Even small discoveries in your life can have a big impact on you and those around you.
In 2010, college student A.J. Forsythe learned how to repair his own cracked iPhone and he soon realized that there was a giant market for quick and easy iPhone repairs. Less than five years later, everything is falling into place for his plan to create "the AAA of iPhones": Forsythe's network of trained repair experts now spans 43 states and 11 countries and brings in $9 million a year in sales. For the everyday person, setting a clear long-term goal can make it easier to remember where you want to go and what you'd like to prioritize when countless small decisions clutter your days and weeks. One option is to use the 90% Rule to identify your most important tasks, so you can concentrate on pursuing the opportunities that have the biggest impact on your life.
When it comes down to it, all creative people who push boundaries are explorers; you can't create something new without a willingness to defy convention. Mark King made that attitude his calling card for years as he struggled to make a name for himself as an inventor before he figured out a way to measure the texture of granola bars for General Mills. You can take the same attitude when evaluating the decisions in your life. If you're not a risk-taker by nature, one way to put yourself in the mindset is knowing there are only two outcomes to risk-taking: you either succeed at what you were trying to accomplish, or you learn a lesson. If you're lucky, you'll end up with a combination of the two.
When Neal Sales-Griffin and his business partner Mike McGhee decided they wanted to learn how to build their own software, they quickly discovered that reading a lot of books was their main option. After teaching themselves the ropes, they set out to help others like themselves by founding The Starter League, an intensive 9-month program that incorporates everything they learned about writing software and starting companies, along with the qualified instructors they wish they'd had access to. To connect with the explorer inside you as well as other people who share your interests, you can start your own blog about a subject or project that you're passionate about. Often the best way to truly understand a subject is to teach it to others, and these days you don't have to know how to code to design a mobile app that can inform and inspire the rest of the world.
Ever since she was 11 years old, Tavi Gevinson has chronicled her personal journey into fashion and feminism and became a style icon in the process. By recording her thoughts and sharing them with others through her blog and web publication ROOKIE, Gevinson says that she was able to avoid the common trap of feeling like she didn't have the right to be creative and put her work out for the public. Whether you scrawl your notes on paper or type them up in an app like Day One, journaling can also be an essential tool to learn from your daily experiences and can even improve your mental and physical health, leading to the kind of attentive, curious mindset that every explorer needs.
These are just a handful of ways to flip on your explorer mode in your everyday life. But for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dive into explorer mode head first, enter National Geographic's Expedition Granted competition, brought to you by Jeep and Dos Equis — one modern explorer will win $50K toward their dream expedition.
Matt Marquez writes about geek culture and the arts. Follow him on Twitter at @mattmarquez.