In our 20s, we’re encouraged to roam free and do as we please. Go wild! the message from society reads. Backpack the world! Get that burning desire for more out of your system!

But venture into the 30s, and we’re suddenly expected to put the brakes on that wayward streak. Mortgages, promotions and stability are the order of the day.

That impulse to want to get out there and explore, to have fun and be impulsive, is quashed under a sludge of life obligations.

Instead of bowing to the inevitable, here’s four reasons why you should keep a sense of adventure burning bright in your life.

Better still, fire it up on all levels for an everyday that is brimming with positive risk and the Great Unknown:

You get to meet new people

OK, so not all characters you meet in life will be keepers (looking at you, Raoul Duke) but every time you stretch your comfort zone, you broaden your horizons to new people.

Whether you’re climbing Mount Batur at sunrise in Bali or learning to salsa in Colombia, taking on new adventures means you have a chance to connect with a fresh set of faces.

Read more: The life-changing magic of meeting new people

New friendships is something we rarely make time for these days and yet, it’s a proven happiness habit: something that makes us feel alive and motivated.

Travel carves out the space to develop relationships with others, away from the distractions of everyday life.

But you don’t have to wander the globe: something as simple as signing up to a kickboxing class or pop-up art workshop would have a similar effect, too.

You develop resilience 

Not all risks are worth taking, of course, but when you throw yourself into the path of something unknown, you unearth hidden skills you never knew you existed.

You might be at the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town convinced that you can’t make the abseil down. Or at the bottom of Rainbow Mountain in Peru, fretting about the 5,200-metre ascent.

Perhaps it’s white-water rafting that freaks you out, or the idea of networking in a bar of strangers.

Read more: Solo travel fuels this major happiness habit

Big or small, every time you push yourself, and make yourself do something that scares you, you’ll end up feeling better for it.

You prove to yourself that you have the grit and tenacity needed, no matter what the situation.

If you never took risks or avoided adventure, you’d be unaware of your own capabilities. But by diving headfirst into the fear factor, you propel yourself towards bigger choices and bolder decisions: it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You forge your own path

As you get older, it’s easy to forget that you are in the driving seat of your own life.

Everyone around you is taking predictable decisions, but there’s no reason for you to follow suit if you’re not convinced. You don’t have to accept the narrative of how life “should” be, whether that’s working a 9-to-5 job or coupling up with someone.

Every time you take a small step towards adventure or risk, you validate your ability to govern your own life.

Read more: Tackling the mid-30s blues

The beautiful thing about adventure is that it’s entirely fuelled by personal desire. No-one tells you to go snowshoeing across the Finnish wilderness, or hang out with the orangutans of Borneo.

These are impulsive decisions you make for yourself, based on gut instinct. You do what YOU want, regardless of expectation or pressure from other people.

You form a blueprint for happiness

What makes happiness? According to a report published in Psychology Today, the number one contributor is autonomy, defined as “the feeling that your life – its activities and habits – are self-chosen and self-endorsed”.

When you hit your 30s and 40s, it’s very easy to feel like you’re being slammed by expectations on all sides. Expectations to settle down, find a partner, tick off those milestone boxes.

Read more: Stop dating and connect with people

And if, for whatever reason, you’re not on path to those “goals”, you feel like you’re somehow falling behind, or missing out.

The truth is that you can only know what you want by doing what you want.

The age-related narrative around “settling down” is no reason to curb your appetite for adventure: instead, amp it up.

Not every risk you take will pay off but just by pursuing it, you’ll push yourself forward and tap your ability to govern your own life.

Break free from the quagmire of “shoulds” and take the adventure route: happiness lies ahead.

This article is part of a series called ‘Don’t Believe The Narrative’ – we’re rewriting the script for the over thirties; turning the spotlight on those who CHOOSE a different path; celebrating the adventurers and won’t settle-downers. Because this life stage doesn’t have to be all about babies, weddings and work promotions, just because the script says it should. You write your script, you choose your best moments – from epic travel tales to dinners with travel buddies. Share them with us on Instagram using #DontBelieveTheNarrative.

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