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Note to Self

At the start of each year I like to pause and re-evaluate what I’mm doing with my life. I generally keep my thoughts to myself. But I thought that if I stuck my musings online I might commit to actually making it happen for once!

So, I guess, here is my manifesto for the year.

In no particular order, here is what really matters to me:

  • Being busy on projects I am passionate about, and doing them to the best of my ability
  • Working on a project which can lead on to another one at least as challenging and appealing
  • For the people I care about to be happy
  • Relaxed time for myself. Time for campfire cooking, reading good books, watching good films, riding my bike, and sitting on a hill (guilt-free) to watch the sunset
  • Keeping extremely fit – mentally and physically
  • Getting out into wilderness / places I have never been
  • Enough money to live comfortably on
  • Setting an example to the people I care about

 What is important to me in my work?

  • Personally fulfilling
  • Encouraging others
  • Fun – work that I want to do
  • Money:time ratio
  • Variety
  • Integrity and authenticity
  • Output I am proud of
  • Realistically achievable within the time I have available

What are my criteria for career success?

  • Enough money to live on
  • Sustainability
  • Compatible with the people I care about being happy
  • Peer regard
  • Time spent doing what I love
  • Free time
  • Setting a good example
  • Happy work / life balance

I measure “success” by:

  • Enough money to live comfortably on. More than that is not an affirmation of success
  • Personal pride in achievements
  • The praise of people who I know and care about
  • Sustainability of career as ‘working adventurer’
  • Inspiring / encouraging others to fulfil their potential and chase their dreams
  • Making the most of my days, my talents, my opportunities

 Success is not:

  • Fame / Celebrity / Adulation of people I do not know or respect
  • Directly proportional to money earned
  • Doing more impressive stuff than my peers
  • Having a story to boast about at the next party

What about you? What are your plans for the new year? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. In no particular order:

    -Watch less TV
    -Start a blog to re-kindle my passion for photography and encourage me to develop more adventures and personal creative projects
    -Get outside more
    -Eat better
    -Shun the Tube (cycle or walk to work)
    -Smile more
    -Keep discovering beautiful music
    -Be kind to others
    -Stop trying to be Bear Grylls
    -Stop buying shiny new ‘essential’ gear and go out and use it
    -Keep a perspective on what really matters
    -Walk the West Highland Way or the South Downs Way
    -Have a microadventure, or ten
    -Play the guitar more
    -Stop stalking Al Humphreys and do my own thing 😉

    Feels good to write it down, thanks Alastair.

    Heres to a a fantastic 2014


  2. Sam Jones Posted

    Good new year’s list.
    I’m always a bit perplexed that being a good husband and a great father does not appear in your list / thoughts / writing.
    Any reason you choose to keep them so seperate from your adventure / public life?

    • Rosie Vidovix Unsworth Posted

      @Sam Jones
      Surely being a good husband, father and son is a committment you make every day and not just on NY.

      • Sam Jones Posted

        Just wondered how Al manages to combine family commitments and a life of adventure, something which I always struggle with …!

        • Sam – I too would love to know how Al manages to combine family commitments and a life of adventure, something which I always struggle with and have not found an answer to yet, even for microadventures …! I’m all ears for any advice as a happy wife usually means a happy life!

    • I’m with you guys. I suppose being more organized would be an umbrella goal, under which other goals might fit. But yeah, between work, fatherhood and my marriage, there’s really no time left in the day. Over the course of my life, some of my most creative, productive time has been spent alone. My wife doesn’t really relate. Not that she’s against it, but she just doesn’t value it the same way. It’s been a struggle to reconcile those perspectives. Could be called more of a marriage challenge than a career challenge. But really, it’s just a life challenge.

  3. Rosie Vidovix Unsworth Posted

    Good manisfesto. I like the way you rethink the philosophy of things as opposed to a list of things to do. Mine is so boring and shallow!
    1.Publish my Casa da Branca novel.
    2.Take a portrait picture of each of my friends.
    3.Visit my family and friends in Paris
    4.Walk from Fresh Water West to Angle in Wales on 5th May
    5.Learn to make a good brioche.
    6.Find a suitable owner for my Kinder Surprise Collection
    7.Buy a motorbike
    8.Restart martial arts lessons
    9.Start a proper collection of vodka
    10.Walk the Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury
    11.Write my next novel.
    12.Enter 10 poker tournaments (and win one!)
    13.Take my Godchildren out more often.
    14. Start serious planning of my canoe trip on the Amazon

  4. Hi Alastair,

    You’ve put together a good well organised list.

    For me, I do have a long term goal of ‘Live my Dreams’ – i.e. doing the things I like instead of the day job to pay the mortgage – but the financial side of making it pay is always the issue…


  5. Happy new year Alastair!

    I had a very similar conversation with my Brothers on similar lines yesterday morning.

    My list…

    1. Be kinder. 
    2. Be fitter in 2014 than I have ever been. 
    3. Complete Iceland traverse trip in style.
    4. Make 3 films that look a little better than home movies. 
    5. Talk to my son Ed, my parents and my grandparents every week.
    6. Send abusive Whatsapp messages to my Brothers on a regular basis 😉

    Didn’t really want to overdo the list in terms of numbers of items but wanted to have a mix of behaviours, inputs and objectives.

    Cheers and thanks,


  6. I sat down over Christmas/New Year and put together some thoughts on what i wanted to achieve during the course of the year. My list went something along the line of:-

    – Run at least 1 mile every day
    – Cycle 50 miles per week minimum
    I want to lose 4 stone during the course of next year, these should go a long way to helping me achieve that dream
    – Spend at least 2 nights per month bivying. I have a big long list of events which should help me along with this. Those are:-

    – Walk the Mary Townely Loop
    – Cycle the Trans Cambrian Way
    – Complete the Welsh Ride Thing
    – Complete the Bear Bones 200
    – Cycle Coast 2 Coast following Hadrians Wall
    – Cycle the Trans Pennine Trail

    – Take my son on his first camping trip. Hopefully the first of many.
    – And finally, just to enjoy life rather than being sat playing computer games or watching rubbish TV.

  7. My wife and I are leaving at the end of April to cycle round Britain (and maybe a bit of France) so my thoughts on what to do/change in 2014 are very different to previous years. We will return some time in the autumn with no home and very few possessions so change is inevitable which is the whole purpose of the trip.

  8. Hi Al, Great list still working on mine in detail but the headlines are something like this:

    – 2. February start of journey on route Nepal the long way.
    – Study sustainable living along the way.
    – Be more open to people and have trust in people.
    – Learn and study online blogging.
    – Enjoy nature and sustain nature.
    – Be fit and transport myself.
    – Not being a direct part on western consumerism.

    Expect that 2014 will broaden my mind and there by get new perspective on living.

    Have a great 2014 and for sure i will be following you and your ideas.

    All the best

  9. You are SO good at this stuff.

    1. Run, run run – given your 1000? tweet am aiming for 1000km in a year – 100km a month=3km a day average over 10 months. Done 10km already.
    2. Crochet something everyday. Even if it’s just a circle – to might be part of a bigger useful thing later in the year…and if not is just good meditation.
    3. Alter my silly life-work non-balance. In ‘discussion’ at work at the moment, but drastic action will happen in some form or another in the next 12 months. Leading to…
    4. Earn less but be happier doing what the money comes from.
    5. See friends more – even if by Skype.
    6. Take 18 young people to Peru for 3 weeks (and bring them back), including…
    7. Erect 50+ donated recycled sails from Devon in Andean playgrounds and…
    8. Drink (1 small) Pisco and go salsa dancing in Cuzco on my 40th birthday (someone else will be in loco parentis that night!)
    9. Go wild camping with my 3+5 year olds – Dartmoor and the beach.
    10. Spend more time on/in the sea

    I could go on…but the art will be putting them into practice, especially from Monday when the hamster wheel rolls again, and there’s no getting off until late Feb. Thank you so much for making me think/want to do.

  10. Hi Al,

    here’s my list, hoping that i will at least achieve half of it!
    1-Get fitter
    2-Read more books and spend less time of FB and similar
    3-Spend more time outdoors and start doing micro-adventures
    4-Learn new skills
    5-Improve my Spanish and my photography
    6-Go on a great trip (duration and destination still not decided!)
    7-Do something new, something i haven’t done before at least once per month
    8-Meet new people
    More important:
    Stop making excuses and start doing stuff
    Start doing what i like and not what other people like me to do

  11. This 2014 I am going to start to travel by bicycle around the world, finally!

    I didn’t want to forget about my resolution, so I will be starting this next 8th of January from London. Counting the days already, the next stage of my life is just about to start.

  12. – To be outdoors more, and to sleep on a hillside at least once
    – To go easier on myself and prioritise my love for running and cycling above the pursuit of specific goals
    – To spend my time concentrating on the good things – good friendships, good food, good travel
    -To reflect more, and listen better

  13. You have a great list which has inspired me to reflect on my own goals for the coming year.

  14. Russ Brown Posted

    Live free, less work more fun, travel, explore and actually start writing it down and keeping diaries…..
    …maybe eat less bacon. That is all.

  15. My New Year’s resolutions are:
    1. Stop making lists.
    B. Be more consistent.
    7. Learn to count.

    Just kidding… I decided to make it only one New Year’s resolution this year: Never stop!. So basically the aim to stay curious and retain a certain longing for the unknown, the idea of continuously shaping life and personality, the ability to marvel at the mundane, the will to learn something new and so much more…

    Happy New Year Al and may it be another unique patchwork of adventures! Take care…

  16. Alistair
    I think making the most of your days, talents and opportunities sums it up nicely.

    Look forward to seeing what you get up to this year.

  17. Gale Browning Posted

    Living each day as if it were my last…Life is short and time waits for no one.

  18. Alastair – love your directness and authenticity which comes through your posts like these. It has inspired me to write my own Manifesto too – which shares a fair few qualities with yours. Thank you for not selling out and being genuine – its truly uplifting.

  19. Hi Al,
    I just stumbled on this post and have never seen your blog before. Left it then came back to re-read. It hit home with me. Last year I worked so so hard to achieve my goals and other things fell by the wayside. Setting up my business to support me doing what I love has totally consumed me. I love it but I’ve a warped sense of success I need to think about. This year I want to pull back some balance and learn how to manage things. There’s things in this post I need to remember and feel the same about but I didn’t fully realise until reading this. So thanks…

  20. Mick Bailey Posted

    Friendship – I’d like to go with friends to the Centre for Alternative Technology ( in Wales. We have been talking about going for literally years and never got around to it. This year is time enough. Also, I’d like to get off my backside and take the initiative in enjoying friendships.
    Health and Fitness – I would like to increase my yearly mileage on my bike and include two tours (coast to coast with my son and maybe a weekend where I meet my girlfriend and step-daughter en route).
    Intimate Relationship – I would like to marry my girlfriend this year. I am confident that it will happen this year and I look forward to getting to know her more, sharing more experiences with her, showing how much I love her and basking in our love.
    Where I Live – I would like to finish the garden, surround the raised beds with bark chippings and get all the beds full of veggies. I would also like to practice my woodworking and maybe start to sell some stuff. Also, I’d like to organise something in the village that I live in to bring the community together, maybe a community picnic on the village green.
    Learning and Growth – I would like to do some training that will challenge me. Ideally I would love to do a green woodworking one ( and look to set up a business from it. A bit ambitious because of the cost and time but hey these are wishes aren’t they?
    Fun, Joy and Play – I would like to cook for my girlfriend once a fortnight, not always just us two but maybe for friends too. I would like more sex with my girlfriend because it is free, makes me feel good and it brings us even closer, and would also like to go on a date once a month.
    The work I do – I’d like to get some kind of formal training that would stand me in good stead for the future and also to maybe look at different roles. Above all, it needs to be a fulfilling and challenging otherwise it will make me unhappy.
    Finances – I would like to manage the money so that we can travel, maybe add to the income with our hobbies and start to add to our ‘future’ deposit. Also, and very importantly I’d like to live to my means whilst making those means as small as possible.

  21. Restore fitness
    Complete projects eg. finish building boat
    Foraging/boating trips
    Do more Living History with M, archery
    Paint the shower room ceiling! And the other jobs
    Spend more time in our wood, build hut, sleep in it
    Get the dog into microadventures
    Kayak fishing

    • Alastair Posted

      I insist that you post a monthly photo of your boat right here until it’s built – what a cool project!

  22. Plan, design and build a bicycle trailer for my surfboards and and ride from Sennen Cove where I live, to Brittany or beyond, Camp out, surf, shoot some new shots and write some new blog posts. Have a mid 40’s adventure!!
    Thank you for the inspiration Alistair

  23. Have you thought that as well as having adventures in different locations one can (almost) have them in different times as well. For example, a walk ending in an overnight sleep in a reconstructed ancient buildings such as a Roundhouse needs a bit of planning but can be done.

    For simplicity and spontaneity try an overnight sleeping in the ramparts of a hillfort or an area with Round or Long
    Barrows. Many of these around, my favourite area was the Wiltshire Downs. It might help the ambience to read a couple of chapters of a Rosemary Sutcliff historical novel or similar before sleep.



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