Earlier this year I had this email correspondence with Jesper from Finland. I share it here (with Jesper’s kind permission) for those of you who might be wondering, having done the obituary exercise – “well now I know what I want to do, but my circumstances don’t allow”. Bear in mind that it doesn’t necessarily have to be all or nothing – the process of realigning yourself for your fantasy future can be gradual.
Greetings, [message sent via the contact form on my website]
While I don’t have high hopes that this will actually reach Roz Savage I still feel, oddly enough, obligated to write this.
I accidentally stumbled upon a TED talk of yours yesterday while I was grocery shopping. To say the least you hit a very sensitive spot in my mind. I’m heading towards a future that is very much identical to the “old life” that you had. I’ll probably get a good job (I’m a business student) with long work hours and a good salary. What your talk made me realise is that there’s something missing in my life, a major and vital part. I’ve had this feeling for quite some time, that I’m somehow going towards a life that I don’t really want to have. I’ve been adventurous all my life. Challenges have always made me feel alive and that’s the part I’m missing out on…
The reason behind this message is mainly to thank you. You’ve opened my eyes to a future that I feel is worth striving towards, a future that I can feel excited about. But, I also happen be in need for some guidance. I’m a university student, with limited funds and three years to go, until I graduate. I wish I could ask you what I should do to achieve an adventurous life style but that’s a question I’d have to figure out myself, sadly. So instead of asking what I should do, I’ll ask you; when you look back at your life, what would you have done differently in order to achieve the lifestyle you really wanted at an earlier stage in life?
Thanks in advance, you’re a true inspiration to me!
No worries – I got your email! I’m glad you wrote. If I can save a soul from the office grind, I am happy to do so!
You ask a good question. For me personally, I don’t actually regret the years in the office. I didn’t like them at all (although I met some great people who are still friends), but they a) equipped me with some project management skills that have proved useful, and b) gave me a very powerful motivation to make my adventures succeed – faced with the threat of returning to the office, I would do anything rather than that!
Having said that, and to try and answer your question, you really just have to make up your mind to do it. Looking at people like Sarah Outen or Ollie Hicks, they’ve known from early on what they wanted to do. They may have had some interim jobs, but only to earn money. It’s not possible to come up with a business plan for a life of adventure, or certainly not one that would impress a bank manager (or possibly your parents!) but if you are determined, you can make it happen.
Also bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Alastair Humphreys manages to combine his micro adventures with life as a family man.
Or my younger sister has had a “proper” job with the same company for the last 10 years or so, but they have allowed her to resign to do things like the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, the Pacific Crest Trail, travel around the world for a year, etc – and they keep taking her back afterwards. Of course, she’s enormously over-qualified and underpaid for the job, but at least it gives her a fair degree of flexibility.
For me personally, I like to do things 110%, so I wouldn’t try to combine adventuring with another job, but I’m just trying to take the pressure off you a bit. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an all-or-nothing, now-or-never decision.
I hope this helps!
Thanks a lot for the answer, it’s much appreciated!
You prove a very good point, it’s usually not all or nothing. At least not in the stage I’m in now. Unfortunately I’m also like yourself, the kind of person that is 110% into the things that I do. But I suppose it’s not too bad to start from the “grey-zone” and work up oneself upwards. I strongly agree that the most important thing is to decide what to do and after that actually do it. Get out of the ugly comfort zone, a very uncomfortable task as you’ve both said and written. I got a vague plan of where I want to go and how I’ll get there. Maybe with a bit of refining I could actually start to follow it by heart, just to see where it takes me. The worst thing that can happen is that I fail which, in the end, isn’t that bad.
Seeing people that have done extraordinary things, like yourself, is always a great motivator! I always think, “If they can do it, why can’t I?” 🙂 This e-mail helped a lot, so thank you, again!
When I embark on my own adventures I promise that I’ll send you an e-mail about it!
Best of luck with your future adventures!
So please, don’t be disheartened if your dreams seem a long way off. The main thing is to hold true to your vision. Even if you get there more slowly than you would wish, every day do something, no matter how small, to get you a bit closer. And try not to allow yourself to get further away.
[Featured image: Sherry of www.ottsworld.com]