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Can one year impact the course of our entire lives? These stories say so…

A photo capturing the stories of a group of people in black and white.

Some years we make decisions that change everything, but it’s only when we look back and reflect do we realise how much these decisions shaped the courses of our lives.

The following stories are just a few of the hundreds we collected from people reflecting on what they did between 1962 to 2016, that impacted their lives forever. And with these in mind, we want YOU to ask yourself an all important question for 2017: What will YOU do this year that you’ll remember forever?

A man standing in front of a decorative striped wall.

We quite literally drove through parts of history, starting in Europe from Belgium, to Germany, Austria, Northern Yugoslavia (before it broke up), Greece, Turkey, Syria, Jordan to Israel and into Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and then Nepal by early December. At the end of that trip, I was also booked on a 10-day Everest base walk camp, which was one of the most special moments of my trip. We left the coach in Kathmandu and went up to a small village where the expeditions started. We had about 15 people in our group and we walked with the Sherpas all the way to base camp which if I recall correctly was about 17,000 feet.

You see, I left New Zealand and travelled when I was quite young. It really was one of the most life-defining moments for me. To experience the travel revolution during the 1970’s and see the Iran revolution with my very own eyes is something I’ll never be able to forget – because with the way the world is going and terrorism becoming such a huge factor to consider in our lives across these countries, the chance to ever relive those moments are slim to none (well, for me anyway).

So when I reflect (40 years later) I think, “I’ve got two sons and I still need to encourage them both to travel.” I think they’re a lot better for it. So my advice to the younger generation is that you’ve got to be ready to travel. Some people do it too young, some people wait too long and then regret it. It’s got to be right, but if you’re going to travel, then travel and truly be a traveller. Just find the time in your life while you’re young and you’re in your 20’s to travel without limits and go where it takes you – you’ll be so much richer for it. Because it does change you, it changes the way you see life and the way you live your life. Travel where you want and really learn and experience a country. But when the time is right, go and do it. Don’t put time restraints on yourself if you can, just wonder and see where it takes you. Travel individually, travel with friends, mix it up and you’ll have all these different experiences you’ll never forget.

I guess you could say I drove and travelled through parts of history in the 70’s but I’ll never forget 1978, the year I experienced an overland trip from London to Kathmandu, Nepal overland – now those are the kind of experiences that could never leave my mind”

– Dave Hosking, 60 years old, the man who (literally) travelled through the revolution 

A man standing in front of a wall covered in graffiti tells stories.

It’s a big decision, going to space. You either live or die. But once you get your mind around that and make the decision, it’s not scary at all.

You know, a year of training with NASA, you spend countless days, hours, weeks and months on simulators. I didn’t set up to become an astronaut at all. I went on exchange with the Australian and US Navy and I fell in with the wrong crowd and one thing led to another. I guess that one decision changed everything for me, that’s the story of my life. You get to a fork in the road, and you’ve just got to take it. It took over a year of training, you’re programmed to do different jobs in the orbit, but the one thing the NASA program can never train you for is the view of Earth. Looking back on the Earth, it’s absolutely 3 dimensional and you realise that what they teach you in school and on maps is kind of wrong, because when you’re actually looking down on Earth there are no boundaries, and that impacted me greatly.  A lot of people talk about space and the different perspectives and how it changes you, but that’s kind of a myth.

What really changed my outlook in life from going to space in 1984, is that I’m now always looking for the next great adventure. And that’s the advice I would give to younger people – when you come to a fork in the road, take it. I remind them that in their life they’ll probably have between 7 to 8 jobs – so you’ve got to be prepared for change. Life offers you lots and lots of opportunities, but you need to have the courage to grab hold of those opportunities. Stay ahead of the curve.

I think I came up with a saying during lift-off on that launch pad, “You may not know where you’re going, but you sure know you’re going somewhere. I guess that’s the story of my life.”

– Paul Scully-Power, Australia’s first astronaut in space (with a beard) 

A couple posing in front of graffiti-covered wall.

I took the plunge and decided to give it a shot because it was always something I’d wanted to do. Sport and fitness is something I’ve always been passionate about so I thought, why not? We spend so many hours in our lives thinking ‘what if’? But this was my dream. And the truth is, there are so many doubters out there but if you have so much passion and energy for something, it will work. Most people will commend you for giving it a try. I remember signing the papers and thinking “What have I done?” I literally gave them every cent I owned. I looked at my business partner and said, “are you sure we made the right decision?”

Eventually, we opened up our studio and we were packed out – every single class was full and the energy was amazing. From there on I knew that no matter what happens from here, we’ve done it. Just starting it and not overthinking it is the best way to do it.

What inspired me to go down this path was definitely my Father. He always said to reach for the stars and growing up in a family of 6, starting this business really did change my life for the better. If I had chosen not to do this, I’d be doing the daily commute; getting on that bus, going into work, getting a coffee on my way in, but I knew that sport and fitness had been a huge part of my life. So my piece of advice is to just do it. It’s easy to be distracted by the criticism of others and not give it a shot, but once you do it – it’s always worth it.

I guess I love the idea of providing a space where humans can be better and healthier versions of themselves. That’s incredibly empowering for me and that’s why I decided to go into F45.”

– Tara Scully-Power, founder of Geelong F45 and daughter of Paul Scully-Power 

A man and a woman striking a pose for a photo, showcasing their stories.

It was definitely a special moment for us. It was 3AM in the morning and I was feeling kind of sad about life but he somehow managed to make me laugh through his YouTube videos so that’s why I tweeted him. The tweet said “You sir are amazing” so I guess you could say our lives changed from that one tweet. We talked for many hours online over the month. We talked about seeing the Northern Lights, exploring the Alps and it made me excited to go and do something with my life. Mattias’s Dad even bought him a plane ticket from Sweden to come visit me in Australia.

We’re so lucky to have gotten the chance to explore the world together with someone equally as passionate about travel. We were able to find each other and support one another through all our endeavours.

Most of our memories really happened in 2014. It was the year of adventures for both of us. We travelled through 15 countries in Europe and most of the time we picked the countries on a whim. We went to Denmark without a plan, discovered beautiful nature we didn’t even know existed, hiked through Switzerland and just explored the world together. It really was one of the most rewarding memories we’ve had and doing it with someone you love just makes it so much more rewarding.

In the day to day life, both of us have this wanderlust. I feel like we’re not really ourselves until we get out of our own city.

Our advice to others? Get outside your comfort zone and see things from a new perspective. Sometimes we feel so stuck in our own box, that we feel like we can’t ever get out of it but just reaching out and exploring the world is a great way to find something that really matters to you in life. Meeting someone who enjoys the same things as you do is very special. Thanks to social media and Twitter, this tweet in 2012 really changed our lives.”

– Leonii and Mattias, the Australian/Swedish couple who met online over Twitter, fell in love and now live in Australia 

A man standing in front of a colorful wall.

At the time of making this decision to walk across Australia, I personally was not in a very good place. Even though the catalyst was seeing my Mum sick with lung cancer, I knew I wanted to do something good with my life. Honestly, if I hadn’t done this, I would have been close to suicide. What I think I achieved in my own head and sorted out myself is probably the biggest achievement. Even though I was chronically under-prepared, my advice to anyone out there is just not to doubt yourself, ever. Just trust yourself. Don’t second guess anything.  And would I do it again? Yes, absolutely. 

My unhappiness came from this feeling of lack of achievement which drove me to make this life-changing decision. I was lucky I was able to manifest all this negative energy I had into something quite productive. But personally, the true sense of achievement from this experience was found by pushing myself outside my comfort zone and overcoming my inner demons. This walk really helped me become a better person by the end of it. I stopped doing what people thought I should be doing, and did the things I knew I needed to do. I carry this mantra throughout my life by getting a tattoo which means ‘just be brave & lose the ego.” 

– Dan Watson, the man who walked 5000km’s from Perth to Sydney for charity