Tim is a legend. He wrote the best email we've ever received in reaction to the Esc concept. He resigned from his job to start up http://thenextchallenge.org" rel="nofollow">thenextchallenge.org around the same time as we left to start Esc. He does fantastic work helping people with their adventures. Check him out.
I help with expeditions and adventures. Check out my http://thenextchallenge.org/" rel="nofollow">website and get in touch.
Three years ago I left my job to work freelance, supporting people who want to go on an adventure.
It started slowly, living off savings, staying with my parents and spending a lot of time updating a blog that no-one read. But, over the years, it's blossomed. I've supported over 100 different expeditions now, written a book and even been to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen (and apparently people read my blog too).
I recently concluded that I wanted a more fulfilling vocation than working expeditions so I have an "ordinary job" that brings me that satisfaction but still dedicate my free time to encouraging others to live more adventurously and helping them to do so where I can.
I worked for BSES Expeditions in the Royal Geographical Society organising Arctic expeditions for young people. Sounds pretty cool eh? And it was but, after a couple of years it was threatening to become something I just did rather than something that I loved.
I'm not a good faker. If I don't enjoy something then it's pretty obvious pretty quickly so I knew it was time to get out.
I had been dreaming about doing this for 4 years and 2 months. I'd just got back from one of those adventures I mentioned above and a guy from my university hockey team approached me for help cycling a rickshaw across the States. I hadn't the foggiest about riding rickshaws but he thought that I knew about that sort of thing so I gave him a hand. I've been trying to do the same for other people ever since.
My moment of truth came whilst running round Hyde Park on my lunch break. I'd been thinking about leaving my job for a while but hadn't had the guts to say it out loud. I mentioned it to my running partner half hoping for a 'Nice idea but let's be realistic'. Instead I got 'Sounds like you've thought it through'.
I emailed my boss as soon as I got back to my desk. Working in the Royal Geographical Society it was impossible not to be inspired by the people that would walk through it's halls and sit on tables next to me at lunchtime. But it was the discovery that people actually did this sort of thing as their primary occupation that really got me.
I was particularly inspired by Al Humphreys and when I found out that he was a 'full time adventurer', it gave me something to aspire to. I enjoyed going through Ranulph Fiennes' thought process in http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0340951699/?tag=wwwescthecity-21" rel="nofollow">Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know when he slowly realises that he might be able to make a life from expeditions.
And I also drew inspiration from my friend Rob Cousins who, at the tender age of 30, is preparing for his second 'retirement' as he calls it (or is it third now Rob? You're so lazy I lose track...).
I made the decision without too much consideration for practicalities but I realised that I'd been implicitly planning in the back of my mind for some time. I tapered my working hours from full time to leaving over a period of months, and am very thankful to my boss for that arrangement. I also moved out of my flat as soon as practical to stay with my parents, buying me time to build a plan without draining the savings so quickly.
Money chat doesn't really interest me too much but, if it helps, here was my utterly unmiraculous funding plan:
The honest answer is that it wasn't hard. Hard is working in a job you don't enjoy. Hard is getting up every morning, dragging yourself to a workplace you don't want to go to, putting effort into projects that aren't important to you and making it through the day.
Hard is dedicating days, weeks, months, years of your life to something you don't believe in. That's hard. That takes effort and determination. What I did was easy. I wasn't enjoying my job so I left. I love doing what I'm doing now so I keep doing it.
Everyone has been supportive, friends, family, strangers, and even my boss from the job I left. The sacrifices I've made so far have been minimal. I don't miss my flat, I like riding my bike, and not buying new stuff doesn't bother me.
I may still be in the honeymoon period but when the hard times come I hope the love for my work will provide as much determination as other people have to make it through the day in a job they do for money or a sense of that's what I'm supposed to do, not love.
Another good thing: the impact it has had on the rest of my life. The plan was to find more joy from my work, not from everything else in life. That, apparently, has been a nice side effect.
Don't think about it too hard, don't try to convince yourself - just start the motions.
Order some books/magazines about whatever you're interested in; go to or organise a club/meeting/social about it; start a savings account/website/project folder with your idea's name on it; call up or email the charity official/bank manager/coach/employer and start a dialogue.
I can't tell you exactly what those motions are because I don't know what you're trying to achieve but you know what you need to do. You can never know in advance what the right decision is and there are more questions about this sort of thing than you could ever possibly have answered.
So just start taking the first small steps and, by the time you look up, you may have walked further than you think.
Useful? Google Reader and RSS Feeds. If you don't know what they are then, well, Google them! It's a bit like unlimited free magazine subscriptions.
Free software. My empire is commanded from a £200 laptop filled with free Open Source Software:
These articles are good: