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Do what you love and you will never work a day all your life

4943114464 c4d7f545a1 b Do what you love and you will never work a day all your life

When people ask what my job is, I never know how to respond. I go on journeys and set myself challenges. I write, for books, for magazines, for blogs. I give talks and take photographs. But none of these actually feel like a “job”. And for that I am a lucky man. Do what you love, a wise man once said, and you will never work a day all your life.

It didn’t start out as a career plan though. I was too short-sighted for one of those. I was too much of an angry-young-man, too frustrated at the golden cage of my nice, easy, dull life, too anxious to chase all the adventures and lessons that were waiting out there if only I would make the effort to begin chasing them. I started chasing. I chased hard. I spent over four years cycling a lap of the planet seeking those adventures and lessons.

Cycling round the world changed the direction of my life forever. For it clarified for me what I really love and care about, the things that make me come alive: it taught me that they are attainable (or might possibly become attainable) if only you summon up the nerve and the energy to take the first step towards them. You might not even know what they are. You might not end up where you thought you were going to go. But, fingers crossed, you’ll end up in a good place. This excites me a lot and it’s what I write about here on this blog.

But it’s not all sunshine, rainbows, “chasing your dreams” and “being the best you can be”. After spending over six years overseas, travelling, and being in the world’s wild places I often feel trapped and bored as I try to balance my wanderlust and ambition with a desire for “normality”: for friends, family, community, and stabilty. I listen to The Smiths more than is healthy. So I also write about the small but really significant little things that re-spark the soul in the course of a normal working week: the whooping mountain bike rides on frosty mornings, the great books that teach you as much as travel ever can, and the microadventures that service all the same needs as massive expeditions but in a fraction of the time. And rivers. Jumping into rivers. Yes, mostly I write about the uncontrollable whooping and grin that comes from leaping into a cold, clear river. However cold the water, however heavy your work woes, you will always feel better after a dip in a river, lake or ocean. Indeed, if I can persuade just one reader to go for a wild swim then I’ll definitely have done my job. At last, I know what my job is…

This piece originally appeared on the howies blog.

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Comments

  1. yet again you hit the nail on the head. This is why I return day after day to this blog – fabulous writing and telling it like it is. I am wasting my life in this bloody office!!!

    Reply
  2. Absolutely agree here. I’m not doing what I love, yet. But, I will do soon.

    Reply
  3. Well done. Don’t forget to mention reading nice blogs as this one :)
    I think even that is part of my job.

    Like you, even with several companies and other miscellaneous streams (drips) of income, I am still not sure what to say when asked (and what to write on all those immigration papers). Depending on the place I choose a ‘real’ one from my collection or make one up. (my current official title in my new company is ‘Life Improver’ by the way).

    Still I can get stuck behind the screen as well or doing other ‘normal’ things, sometimes enjoying it, sometimes screaming to get out.

    It is funny that you do not mention what most people actually mean with a ‘job’: where the f do you get money to actually live :)

    Cheers, Harry

    Reply
  4. Kate Posted

    Fuck. I am wasting my life.
    Depsite the horror of writing that I know it is true. And you are making me realise that> I don’t know whether to hate you or kiss you!

    Reply
  5. Bohus Posted

    You have certainly persuaded me to jump and swim into Thames previous week, the water was cold and not clean at all :) This weekend it was the Irish Sea..even colder…4 hours of bodysurfing made me feel as good as never.

    Reply
    • hmm… wonder what I can persuade you to do next!
      Arctic Ocean? http://vimeo.com/11919576 :-)

      Reply
      • Bohus Posted

        Sounds really good …although I actually really like UK, so this year I’ll just stick with sea to sea cycle ride, surely there will be many places along the route to swim. Next year I hope to cycle to Slovakia and back :) Some people say it’s crazy but reading and watching your posts (also been to the Night of adventure presentations) nothing seems crazy enough.

        Reply
  6. I really am a fan of this blog, I want to get into adventure myself, but I don’t know if I will be able to do anything as extreme.

    Reply
  7. Jamie Posted

    Akiko,
    Do something small.
    Then something a little bigger than that.
    Then something a little bigger than that.
    etc

    Reply
  8. Great post, as always. In 2011 I have been inspired to take on a ton of ‘microprojects’ in hopes that someday I can do what I love for work, I find I have never been so overwhelmed, but at the same time I finally feel that I am moving in the right direction. Hoping soon I will never have to respond “I’m an accountant” to inquiries about my job ever again!

    Reply
  9. Another great read, every time I do I get a little bit closer to walking out the door, for an adventure of my own.

    Reply
  10. Great post. I am brutally saving also. It’s hard, but not as hard as the pain I’d feel if I didn’t do it and missed out on seeing some of that big wide world.

    Reply

 
 

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