‘I want your job.’ I reply with a wry smile and shining eyes. ‘You can’t have it, but you can make your own.’ I stopped thinking at the age of 18 and went into the motions. A gap year here, a random university course there. Ended up in a job totally unrelated to anything I’d ever studied, secured a mortgage, spent a lot of time playing Playstation. After seven years of young, relatively fruitless adulthood, I decided to kick some ass. More specifically, my own. And things are different, now. I write this on a train taking me from one keynote to another, roughly nine years and one month after I woke up on the morning of my twenty fifth birthday and decided to start living. I don’t have a job these days, although I work longer hours than I ever did when I was nine to fiving. But the thing is, I get paid for about 5% of the ‘work’ hours I put in. The rest is foundation, creation and life. Do what you love and the money will come. Not quickly, but it will. This year, finally, is the first year that I’ve managed to earn the equivalent of my last salary, a salary I gave up almost a decade ago. Hundreds of sofas slept on. Even more nights in tents and hammocks. Hundreds of talks given for free. And finally, a deep, eventual understanding of how to balance that galling yet necessary self-branding with core values that make life as a “professional adventurer” so brilliantly fluid and varied.
I’ve never been much of a scheduler. A girl I once liked way too much questioned me with piercing eyes, ‘do you have a five year plan?’ I knew that the true answer, the ‘are you kidding?! I don’t even know what I’m doing next week!’ would seal the end of our liaison (it was our first date) and, I’ll be straight with you, for a moment there I did question my entire existence oh for the hope of spending a few more minutes with aforementioned temptress. But I said it, and we both moved on to new pastures after just the one coffee, and nothing much has changed. I spend two or three months on a not-too-major not-too-minor adventure, self-powering myself beyond a self-set minimum benchmark of one thousand miles, and then before the next one comes along I bond tightly with my laptop, edit and write and deliver presentations, a phase that rounds the belly and rests the legs. Well, kind of. Because I’m a nomad. A few years ago I realised that having a permanent home would require great expenditure, and as back then I didn’t have the means to generate money in any way that I remotely loved the simple practice of having a home would have totally conflicted with the one self-promise that changed my life forever: Never, Ever Again Will I Do Something I Don’t Want To Do Just For Money.
So, yep, I’m still homeless and carry my life on my back, and the lack of home means I can afford to live the life I love. The constant moving makes post-adventure rest quite tricky, but what the heck; I’m free. I’m happy. I love Mondays. And the other days, too. I know two things. I will never again become so comfortable that my ambition shrinks to invisible. And if I wasn’t currently making a living from the stories generated by adventures I would be trying to make a living from stories generated by adventures. I have found my calling. I’m on an endless quest to expand my potential and this journey, I’ve realised, includes helping others to do the same. The hardest thing is starting, making that first, huge, brave, life-changing decision. After that, you know you CAN. Which is why I’ve just started an initiative called #BEGIN. I’m opening up 200 places for the next year to people who would like to get going on their first adventure but don’t know how to start. I’ll help, advise, encourage and bunk you over those hurdles that seem insurmountable. I’ll get you to the start line.
All in return I ask just one thing. Raise a minimum of £500 towards another project I’ve founded, which is called Origin. The aim is to show the power of adventure by planting one million trees. The impact of that is huge and exciting and for it to be able to happen just by people going on adventures, sprouting out the joy and belief and energy that each one of those journeys brings, now that was worth waking up all those years ago and deciding to start anew. I quit a job that took my soul and found my soul by living without a job. If only they’d taught that at school.
Website: www.davecornthwaite.com Twitter: @DaveCorn Facebook: /Expedition1000