Thirteen years ago, Roz Savage thought she had everything she needed to live happily—a successful career as a management consultant, a husband, a home in London, and a little red sports car to boot. But in her day-to-day life, Savage routinely felt unfulfilled and much older than her 33 years.

So one evening she sat down and came up with two alternate versions of her future: The first continued from the life she'd already built; the second was inspired by her long-buried desire for adventure. The exercise kicked off small moves—like a trip to South America—that led to bigger challenges. By 2005 Savage had left her job behind and set out to pilot a 23-foot-long ocean rowboat across the Atlantic alone.

Today, at age 45, she's also traversed the Pacific and Indian Oceans solo, and is feeling happier, more attractive, and more self-confident than ever—all thanks to her dual reality check. Even if you don't think your future holds sweeping changes, Savage warns, taking the following steps "could have fairly dramatic consequences."

1. On a sheet of paper, map out your friendships, family, career and love life far into the future.

This document should reflect the natural progression of your present circumstances. On another sheet, describe the person you aspire to be.

2. Reflect on your alternate futures.

For Savage, imagining herself as an adventurer "felt like a truer version of my life." She also discovered she was "rather bored writing the realistic one."

3. Declare your intentions to do something grand.

After Savage resolved to row solo across the Atlantic, she gave several newspaper interviews announcing her plans. "I just decided I was going to make it happen, and that was it," she says. For the rest of us, a simple proclamation to friends and family should suffice.

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