Everyone knows things don’t always go to plan and, as I sit and write this post, getting a sense of what 2018 held for me, I hope I can do the year justice. So grab a drink, get comfortable, and sit back as I explain how things went from good, to bad, and back again.
Exactly a year ago I was pulling my hair out.
I’d invested a lot of time writing a manuscript for a book, and just sent it to 35 different publishers and agents. The story was my own, and based on doing something many dream about doing but perhaps can’t, or don’t.
After 21 years of working for the same company I’d stepped off the treadmill, entered into a world of freedom, travelled, had some incredible experiences (good and bad), and written a book to capture the adventure and share back what it was like.
I hadn’t just sent my work out randomly. I’d researched relevant agents, put together a proposal pack which explained why my manuscript was a good story and had potential to sell, and then waited with everything crossed.
Whilst I did generate interest with a few publishers and agents, the fact was I didn’t have a large ‘following’ and, by the time I’d had my 20th rejection letter, I accepted chances were slim and succumbed to the fact I was going to have to self-publish.
I didn’t mind this. I actually liked the independent angle, but what I’d been hoping for was editorial support. Because that was nowhere in sight it was onto plan B – do it myself with the help of family, friends, and some very smart software. And so began three months of solid editing.
Now, this wasn’t exactly what I’d planned when I’d left my job to travel the world, but it’s amazing how fast the time passed during a cold winter in the UK and come early spring, I was ready to publish. This was it. The culmination of 18 months of travel, change, adventure, and almost the same time again writing, reflecting, and editing!
I put together a video, shared it across social media, emailed friends and begged them to buy a copy, and sat back and waited for the sales to roll in.
However, as fun (loose sense of the word) a project it may have been to write a book, there is a very real difference between writing a book and selling a book.
Even though I hadn’t undertaken this project to make money, I’d invested so much I had to at least try, and even though I wanted to get back to travelling, I put those plans on hold, and began to market.
And things did happen, albeit slowly. I made it onto BBC radio (twice), featured in my local newspaper, was asked to write a number of articles for adventure blogs and found my way into online articles. The upshot of this was I sold books, people seemed to enjoy the story, I received some good reviews, and I even made a little bit of money.
At the same time, and quite randomly, a friend asked me to help with some gardening work.
I agreed, and enjoyed working outdoors after spending so much time at a laptop. But what planted a seed at the time was a comment her neighbour made. She asked if this was my profession. I explained it wasn’t, but this is where four months of work through one of the hottest UK summers on record began for me.
From that one job came three / four days of work a week, every week. Never mind writing a book, generating followers on social media, and hash tagging my way through Instagram and Twitter, this was just simple work. Physical, outdoors, and rewarding. And I loved it.
I started off cutting hedges and chopping down trees, moved onto laying patios, and ended up landscaping a garden. Perhaps it wasn’t the ‘best use’ of my skills from previous employment, but I was happy in my work and happy in myself. I was also lucky my dad helped me a lot.
It also reminded me what can happen when you grab an opportunity and run with it.
Maybe I’ll do it again in 2019, maybe I won’t, but it proved a great partnership to marketing a book and did me the world of good. If you ever get the chance to do a season of outdoor work, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Which brings me to the end of the year.
As the end of summer approached, and work slowed down, I started to think toward another adventure.
I’d promised myself I’d do something, I was feeling good, I’d earned money over the summer, and I knew it was time to move again. But I didn’t find it easy. I’d got very comfortable back in the UK, and it proved a challenge for me to break out of that zone.
After some procrastination I decided on South Asia. I had intention to visit Nepal and hike some of the Himalayas and then return to the UK via India ready for Christmas.
Yesterday I missed my flight home.
This was intentional, and as I sit writing this I’m in the Uttarkand region of India. I’ll be away for Christmas, but (after some adjustment) I’m happy to be back on the road again. I’ve also come to realise that, for the most part, how important momentum is.
Whilst being motivated gets you started, it’s momentum which keeps you going, and I can’t help but think back to something an ex-RAF squadron leader / outdoor instructor said to me once when I asked him how, aged 60, he managed to keep such an adventurous outlook on life.
He told me quite simply ‘just don’t stop’.
So that’s my year in a blog post.
A massive thanks to those who have supported me, and to those that have expressed interest in my story, book, website, and general rambling. Have a great Christmas, and here’s to a momentum-full 2019.
For more info what I’ve been up-to these past few years, please take a look through my regular blog here. The posts are a mix of travel, and some of what I’ve learnt from my own experiences.
If you happen to be interested in knowing what it was like to throw caution to the wind, quit my long term career, and shake up my life, take a look at my book here. There are a few different formats on Amazon. I’m biased, but it’s been quite well received!