"After my first five years of professional life, I felt a little empty – as if nothing in the current circle of my existence had the capacity to truly stir me. Admittedly, to feel restless after such a comparatively short period of working life sounds somewhat pathetic". We've all felt it... yet Alastair is a great example of someone who has done something about it.
I did what I did because of my own restlessness and out of a slightly naive sense of romanticism. I hope that perhaps the example may be instructive.
Please check out my book, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Riding-Ice-Wind-Sledge-Antarctica/dp/1848853068/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308312183&sr=8-1" rel="nofollow">Riding the Ice Wind. In particular, you can download a http://www.ridingtheicewind.com/files/9781848853065.pdf" rel="nofollow">free copy of the introduction from my website (http://www.ridingtheicewind.com/" rel="nofollow">http://www.ridingtheicewind.com/).
Experiencing the often unacknowledged - but I think pretty common - 'quarter-life crisis' (i.e. is this really all there is to life? Where is the romance and the excitement you imagine when you're little??)
I left my job as an associate at a magic circle law firm to become a writer and ski across Antarctica - a sort of foolhardy escapism into the harshest environment I could find to try to come to terms with what I wanted to do. On return I wrote a book about the experience and what I learned, entitled http://www.amazon.com/Riding-Ice-Wind-Sledge-Antarctica/dp/1848853068" rel="nofollow">Riding the Ice Wind.
I was an M&A Associate in a City law firm. Before that I studied literature at Oxford and then law at The College of Law.
It had been a realisation over a period of time. I got a little fed up of general complaining (although I am very sympathetic as it's practically not easy to make a leap). I do believe you have to get the best out of what you're doing and that can only be done with a positive attitude.
You have to act and that means either changing the way you see what you do - embrace it, become good, enjoy the team's successes, be respected and enjoy it - or do something different. I couldn't respect myself whining and not doing anything about it.
The actual moment of resolution was at a funeral of a close friend when a letter was read out at a pulpit saying if you've had something you've always wanted to do - go and do it now.
It was like Goethe's imperative: "Whatever you do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."
I left the firm and got a part-time job lecturing in law at BPP Law School. The remaining time I planned the expedition and wrote fiction. I started on a salary of less than a third of what I had been on and to begin with I struggled to find extra time as preparing for lectures took more time than anticipated. In the spare time I wasn't writing, I prepared sponsorship documents, planned the expedition, put together a team and hawked my wares around the City again.
Two years later we had raised £400k and I was flying in a stripped-down Russian cargo plane on my way to the land that time forgot. Now that same experience has been replicated in starting my own business, for which we've currently raised around €80m.
Worst: The burden and risk on my family. I got married and my wife fell pregnant; she was due to have our first baby three days before Antarctica shut up for the season. I had to cross Antarctica to get back in time for the birth (or risk never being spoken to again). My book tells the tale of my escape and my efforts to get back home - it was so ironic having spent so long planning to leave, to then spending my time longing to return...
I was following by example. I organised the expedition with another guy, Patrick Woodhead. Patrick sees absolutely no barriers. Everything is always possible to him and he proved to me graphically that that was true. Six weeks before we left, mired in debt, we still had no title sponsorship but we pressed on.
The funds actually only finally arrived as we got on the flight to Chile, after managing to tie up a deal in the final weeks. If an Antarctic crossing teaches you one thing it is determination!
I found inspirational literature useful for me. I had books that I resorted to to help me keep my resolve, to maintain the inspiration and to prove I was not alone in being restless and that escape was imaginatively and practically possible:
In fact, I quote many of the lines that I had underscored in my journal in those years at the law firm in my own book, so that I could try to put together a compendium of inspiration.