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5 Things I Wish I Had Done

Last week I gave a talk at the Royal Geographical Society trying to offer some advice to people getting started in the world of adventure.
One of my slides was about the things I wish I’md done more of in my years as a ‘professional’ adventurer.
They were:

1. Travelled more slowly
2. Kept more decisions in my own control
3. Written fewer blog posts and more books (and all that metaphor implies)
4. Filmed more
5. Discussed things more with my peers (a.k.a. Stayed later at the bar)

A couple of them are pretty obvious and need no explanation.
Keeping things under my own direction is not just about being a control freak (though editing Into The Empty Quarter and arguing about semi-colons for my latest book suggest that I am more of one than I’md realised!). It is that I have wasted so much time and energy chasing other people and depending on other people. That can be people promising the earth and then vanishing, or people doing a poor job of what you have trusted them to do. Overall I would advise people, at least at first, to take control of their own adventures. Save up your own money for the trip. Film the trip yourself. Write your own book. Do all these things. At some point you will learn what you are not good at or do not enjoy. Then find other people to do those things for you. But, in the early days, just make stuff happen yourself.

Point 3 means that I want to sink my teeth into deeper projects with more lasting impact. I love blogging, but too often I write fleeting blog posts with no significant lasting value. If I added up all the time I’mve wasted on these (and don’t get me started on Facebook, twitter, etc.!) then I am sure I could have written another book or made another film.

And Point 5, staying later in the bar, is where the good ideas come from. I enjoy the open, mutually supportive approach of most ‘professional’ adventurers and always get great benefit from bouncing ideas off them. I just need to learn to leave the pub before the last train leaves: I’mm too old now for sleeping on railway platforms, but still too young/tight to get a hotel room for the few hours until the trains begin again…

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  1. In terms of the control issue, I’m looking forward to seeing how you cope with a traditional publisher, after the freedom of indie publishing 🙂
    … and some days I agree with the blogging thing, and other days I think it is an essential part of finding the writer’s voice. All those words written help us develop the things we want to say, like a practice run for the book … and social media is a bit like staying late at the bar sometimes …
    but then I have no regrets, ever!

  2. Sounds like stocktake time.
    I like the honesty of it , and I like seeing the real learning
    life is an adventure.



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