Lucy Barnard on Walking the Length of the World


“I think the biggest thing is we’re taught that you have to finish what you started. No, you don’t. The outcome is the same. If you’re not happy, you’re going to have the same outcome when you finish as if you finish when you realise you’re not enjoying yourself.”

This week’s guest has made me re-assess my relationship to failure and quitting.

Australian Lucy Barnard is attempting to become the 1st woman to walk the length of the world.

She set off, just over 1 year ago, to walk the length of the Americas; from Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego in Argentina (the most southern tip) all the way to Barrow, Alaska (the most northern point). 

It’s a journey of over 30,000km / 20,000mi across 15 countries that will take her about 5 years. 

To put that distance into context, it’s about 1/6th of the average distance a person will walk in their lifetime.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my first question to Lucy is probably the one you’re thinking right now; why? 

Lucy’s journey is extraordinary, not just because of the distance she’s covering. 

18 months before she set out on this expedition, she was hit by a car while riding her bike and suffered horrific injuries, including temporary paralysis of her lower body and a brain trauma that left her struggling to recall words and with a stutter.

And somehow, despite 12 months of rehab and the ongoing management of her brain trauma to this day, Lucy set out on her expedition on schedule. 

Lucy from Tangles and Tail on her expedition to walk the length of the world

It turns out this podcast and Lucy’s journey have a unique connection; we both started our respective journeys on the same day — which means we celebrated our 1st anniversary together too.

And obviously we’ll celebrate our 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th on the same date too! 

We joked about recording a follow-up conversation on our 2nd anniversary, in person, perhaps over a pisco sour and ceviche in Peru as she continues on her journey – so stay tuned!

In this conversation, we discuss:

* how the idea for this expedition came about thanks to a book she was reading on a bus in Argentina and the conversation that ensued with the man she was dating at the time (let’s just say, they broke up shortly thereafter),

* why you should learn to embrace failure and being able to quit,

* why you really don’t need to finish what you start (despite what your mum said when you were a kid), 

* why she is not aiming to finish,

* how to deal with the fears and doubts expressed by the people around you,

* why it’s a good idea not to overthink a project, 

* how she’s planning to walk through the Atacama Desert in Chile – the driest place on Earth, and

* where she’s likely to be when we celebrate our joint 2nd anniversary.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Notes and resources:

iTunes | Stitcher

To find out more about Lucy or to follow her adventures, you can find her on InstagramFacebookTwitter or via her website.

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