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Pragmatic Dreaming – Start Rubbish, Get Good


“Follow Your Dreams” – the nafforism that launched a thousand soft-focus Instagram posts. There’s a core of truth to it though. It really is pretty stupid in life not to try to make happen what you really, really want to happen. 100 years from now you’ll be dead. So what are you arsing around for with some stupid job you hate if the only reason you are doing so is to save up for an even bigger car and a new telly?

So I’m definitely in the Follow Your Dreams camp. But I urge pragmatic dreaming.

If, for example, you want to make a career as an adventurer then you would be a fool to just quit your current job tomorrow and get some “I’m an Adventurer” business cards printed. I can’t think of any jobs that entail being paid before you’ve done any work or built up an appropriate CV. I can’t think of any one-man-band start-up businesses that earn any money on Day 1 of being in business.

Therefore, if you are considering a shift towards doing something you love [well done for even considering it – keep moving forward!], I recommend that you begin by just keeping it as your hobby.

Do your day job. Earn your cash. Fill your free time with what you love.

The standard British worker has 112 days off each year.

The standard British worker has 6736 hours each year when they are not at work.

So if you want to start a business, become an artist, an athlete, or a chef, then there’s a lot of practice time you can fill. If you dream of getting paid for doing chalk drawings of sunsets then you should start doing lots of chalk drawings, doing them very well, and sharing them on the internet.

If you want to be an adventurer, it’s hard to fit this in at the evenings and weekends. You need to make a chunk of time to go do a big adventure. This need not involve quitting your job! Perhaps you can save up holiday, perhaps you can persuade your company to give you two months’ unpaid leave. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Use your evenings and weekends to get fit and get organised. Go do the huge trip.

Come home and use your evenings and weekends to write a book, make a film, post your photography, start giving talks.

When you get so busy that you haven’t been to sleep for a week, consider decreasing your work hours a little. You still don’t need to quit.

Keep doing this: making time for adventures, generating great content and bringing in revenue. Gradually reduce your official working hours as your income increases. Only once you are in a financial position to be able to survive on your adventuring income should you ditch the job. It takes a long time to become a brand new adventurer.

And then, once the safety net of a regular income and pension has gone, the real hard work can begin!

Start rubbish, get good.

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  1. Great advice! For me having a project (cycle touring website in my case) gives me a real sense of purpose away from my boring I.T. job at a bank. Don’t get me wrong, I do my day job well and it supports my family, but having the excitement of creating something for myself, that I enjoy and helps others, is what makes me think I could be in a position to make a change to my life. It just takes time and effort to make the first steps. Then you get drawn into the excitment of your project and have fun 🙂 cheers Pete



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