Have you ever gotten curious and thought, “Let’s just try it. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Australian Tofe Evans is a guy who’s done just that. And what happened was a complete 180 in his life.
Tofe just wrapped up the North American tour for his new book, Everyone Has a Plan Until S*** Hits the Fan, and I was fortunate to interview him for an episode of The Freedom Club Podcast.
Tofe wasn’t always a thought leader, endurance athlete, and limit pusher. He was once swimming in the depths of depression despite living near 80 beaches on Australia’s Gold Coast where residents enjoy 300 sunny days every year.
“I didn’t know what I was doing with my life,” Tofe told me. “I was also an engineer for eight years, funnily enough. I didn’t know what I was doing and I ended up struggling really bad with depression and anxiety for almost a year. It, honestly, felt like suicide was the only answer.”
Tofe isn’t alone. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts affect millions people around the world – people of all races, nations, economic levels, and faith traditions.
How do you move from a state of depression so deep that suicide is a viable option to living your life with purpose and enthusiasm?
Tofe told me, “I thought, ‘You’ve got to do something. Just defy the odds.”
Do something. Do anything. It’s the only place to start. But as many of us know, starting isn’t finishing. We don’t move from deep depression to doing Ultra Marathons and writing books in weeks. What happens between starting and finishing?
For Tofe, it was doing something he’d never done before.
“I did a marathon first,” Tofe said “I started focusing on running. I told my friend, ‘I think I’m going to run a marathon.’ He said, “What the hell?” Sometimes, when we’re in drinking mode, we say things we’re going to do.”
For Tofe, it wasn’t just a drunken comment, though. It was a pledge to improve his life through disciplined training. “I looked up how much time to train for a marathon. It says 16 weeks. I had 17 weeks. I said, ‘This may be a good sign.’ I paid for it and…thought, “I have to do it now. I paid for it.”
It proved to be Tofe’s first lesson in loss aversion. “I did the training…and, you know what? When you do four months of training, you are going to make new habits. I thought, ‘This is amazing. I’m literally the fittest and healthiest I’ve been in a long time.”
These days, a quick Google search of Tofe’s name tells you he’s more than fit and healthy, and anyone who follows him on Instagram knows he’s doing crazy stuff — 100km and 24 hours runs, races around Mt. Everest, exhausting plyometric and strength workouts.
But does all that success really equal satisfaction or happiness?
Tofe says, “I wasn’t the happiest I’d been in a while but I felt great.”
Getting really good at something difficult brings us to the place where the happiness levels kick in.
Skill requires disciplined, committed practice. A lot of people talk about discipline and willpower. You’ve got to want it, not just need it. Why don’t people who need it, want it?
Tofe gets really passionate about this. “That’s a very good question, dude. I’ve told you things that I haven’t even told some of my closest guy friends because there is so much stigma around mental health, and they haven’t got the empathy for it. Now, they’re still going to always be my homies…but I can’t have that human connection. Sometimes you’ve got to be careful who you are vulnerable around.”
He’s right. The paradox is that vulnerability requires safety.
It also requires gratitude. “At the end of the day, it’s even being grateful for the little things,” Tofe says, “and it’s being grateful amidst the chaos, being grateful for that moment. That takes a lot of high emotional intelligence. For example, I’m driving and my car hasn’t had air con in two years. It’s very hot in Gold Coast in summer. I’m getting to meetings sweaty so I just wear black shirts. In that midst, it’s just going, ‘Tofe, just be grateful you have a car.”
Being Tofe, he has even more mind-blowing stories of gratitude. “I did a double marathon on a standard paddle board, and it was so windy that I smacked my GoPro off. I lost it for good. I didn’t back up any of the Everest footage and I was, like, ‘You dickhead.’ Amidst the chaos, I just go, ‘Focus on what you have, not what you’re missing.’ I have my friends I did the race with and part of the climb. They can send me their footage because it’s identical.”
In terms of Tofe’s races, that’s probably one of the craziest. “I’ve done some other crazy shit as well. I did a 100 miler in this forest near my house, and I’m hallucinating through this race…because in the day time, it’s got to be 105 Fahrenheit…and at night time, you’re dropping down to maybe 40 Fahrenheit.”
And here I thought I had a good workout, but I guess not.
Tofe continues. “Probably 19 to 20,000 feet. Two in the morning, I’ve been gone for 20 hours. My head light is starting to run out of battery. I can’t see, and I have to really engage and focus or else if I trip, I’m going to eat shit so hard. It got to a point where I needed to sleep so I find a local bush, but a four minute timer and then go to sleep in a bush and wake up. It’s like I’ve tricked my brain that I’ve had a decent sleep. At the end of the race, you’re just grateful that you have food. That’s the beauty and purpose of suffering.”
Tofe’s stories could fill a book. In fact, they have.
“I wrote this book as a practical resilience bible to get anyone out of a rut, or to help them grow,” Tofe says. “I really worked on this with psychologists and behavioral scientists and as well as using my own journey, saying how I overcame heavy mental health struggles. This is how you can do it, too.”
Just try it.
Learn more about Tofe and engage with him at: