What’s Been Keeping Me Busy Recently?

I’m back! Sorry I’ve not posted on here for a while – but that doesn’t mean I’ve not been busy writing.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working hard launching, and writing on, the Goalvanise blog. Remember, Goalvanise is the new business I am due to launch in the very immediate future. It will enable you to create your Life List online and then inspire and support you to achieve your life goals. We are genuinely only a week or so from our beta launch now after suffering long delays in the site build.

You can read all my posts on the Goalvanise blog here. But to guide you I’ve selected my favourite 10 from the 35 posts I’ve written since November…

The Ultimate Adventure Bucket List (and UK Alternatives) – 10 insane adventures… and 10 slightly more down to earth UK alternatives

My Life So Far – my radio interview about ‘My Life So Far’

What’s Your Inspiration Song? – looking at why Welcome Home and Brothers in Arms are my two inspiration songs

Goalvanise on BBC Radio Sheffield – our first press coverage talking about why resolutions fail and encouraging people to take the Goalvanise challenge

What’s Your New Day Resolution? – looking at why we should all consider setting New Day Resolutions rather than just New Year’s Resolutions

How Can We Make Politics Better in 2013 – an exploration of some practical ways we can all help to make politics better

My Highlights of 2012 – my own personal highlights of possibly the best year of my life

5 Awesome Armchair Adventures – grab a coffee, sit back and watch these five fantastic adventure videos (including one of my own!)

5 Challenges for Your Mind, Body and Soul – it’s not too late – you can still take on the Goalvanise Challenge!

A Story for Tomorrow – you really must watch this remarkably adventure travel video.

10 Challenges 4 Cancer in Sheffield Star

My 10 Challenges 4 Cancer campaign was featured in the Sheffield Star

Please check out some of these links. We’re immensely proud of how the Goalvanise blog is coming together. We’re confident that, alongside the main site, the blog will certainly to help inspire and support people to achieve their life goals.

I’ve also been busy rebuilding the website of my other business, Big Green Fox, which is seeking to make education better – particularly regarding improving the delivery of careers education. You can read my blog posts on the Big Green Fox site here.

Over the past couple of months I’ve also been busy training for my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer in 2013. My fundraising attempts have even attracted local press coverage.

I’m due to climb the height of Everest in a tower block this weekend as my first challenge. Next up will be my first multi-day cycle trip to South Wales. Then I’ll be walking across Ireland in March. And the one I’m dreading – my three-day Ironman will be in April. Find out more about my 10 Challenges here.

I’ll also be keeping you posting about my blog posts for Berghaus after I was recently selected to be one of their ‘Everyday Adventurers’. You can read my introductory post for their blog here.

So I know it’s been a while since I posted on my this blog. But hopefully all of these links will keep you busy for a while!

Jon

10 Challenges 4 Cancer

Starting in January 2013, I’ll be undertaking 10 Challenges to raise money for cancer research. More than one in three people in the UK will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. It is a vicious disease that touches us all in far too many ways. So I’m hoping to raise at least £2000 for the Association of International Cancer Research (AICR) by putting myself through these 10 adventurous endurance challenges:

#1: A 3-Day Ironman
A mock Ironman length challenge over three consecutive days: Day 1: A 112 mile cycle ride (from my hometown of Sutton Coldfield to the outskirts of London); Day 2: A 2.4 mile swim; Day 3: A 26.2 mile run – the London Marathon!
Postponed until 2014 due to a knee injury 😦

#2: Across Ireland on Foot
A 130 mile journey across Ireland – from Galway to Dublin – on foot – in 7 days.
✓ Completed 24.03.13

#3: Climbing My First ‘Proper’ Mountain – The Zugspitze in Germany
At 2962m, the Zugspitze is Germany’s highest mountain and this will be by far the highest, and most technically difficult, mountain I have climbed.

#4: Climbing the Height of Everest… in Yorkshire’s Tallest Building!
79 ascents of Yorkshire’s 112m tall Bridgwater Place in Leeds – the equivalent height of Mount Everest which stands at 8848m tall – in 24 hours.
✓ Completed 17.02.13 – watch the video here.

#5: Cycling4Lasagne
My mum makes the world’s best lasagne. Fact. So I’m going to cycle 150 miles – from Sheffield to my mum’s house in southern Wales – to go have some. What better reward for a hungry cyclist!
✓ Completed 24.02.13 – read about it here.

#6: Kayaking from Sheffield to the Sea
A kayak journey of over 60 miles from Sheffield (the UK’s most land-locked city) along the canal network, into the Humber estuary and eventually to the sea.

#7: Recreate Team GB’s Finest Moments
My challenge is to recreate ten of Team GB’s finest moments including Mo’s 10k, Sir Chris’ velodrome heroics, every event in Jess’ heptathlon, and plenty more!

#8: Scotland Coast to Coast by Kayak
An 80 mile kayak expedition from Inverness, on the east cost, to Loch Linnhe, on the west coast.

#9: The Welsh 3000s Challenge
15 mountains above 3000ft in 24 Hours! Over 35 miles of walking and 3500 metres of ascent in total.
See here for details if you are interesting in joining me for this challenge on 22nd June 2013.

#10: Walking in My Great-Grandfather’s Footsteps: Manchester to Birmingham on Foot
A walk of over 80 miles retracing the route taken by my great-grandfather who, unable to find work in Manchester, walked to Birmingham.

I hope to complete all of these challenges within an 18 month period. Each of these challenges will push me firmly beyond my comfort zone in a variety of ways. All costs associated with these challenges will be paid for by myself so every penny donated goes directly towards cancer research.

AICR is a fantastic charity whose global aim is to save lives that are being lost to cancer by improving prevention, detection and treatment. AICR is the only charity dedicated to the worldwide scientific fight against cancer. Since 1980, AICR has played a major role in funding ground breaking cancer research. At present they are funding over 215 cancer research projects in more than 23 countries.

So please, dig deep, and click here to make a donation now to help rid us all of this terrible disease.

My new business, Goalvanise, is launched!

I’m delighted to have finally launched my second business, Goalvanise, which aims to inspire and support people to achieve their life goals. At the moment we’ve just launched the blog but hope to launch the main site before Christmas.

But what exactly will the main Goalvanise site enable you to do?

  • Create your Life List online
  • Receive inspiration and information
  • Connect with people who share similar goals
  • Document and celebrate your life achievements

If you like the sound of this then you can pre-register for Goalvanise now at www.goalvanise.com.

Also please check out our blog at www.goalvanise.com/blog. If you’ve enjoyed the posts on my personal blog over the past year then I’m confident you’ll also enjoy following the Goalvanise blog.

Please also note that from now on I’ll mainly be posting articles to the Goalvanise blog rather than my own. I’ll certainly be keeping this blog going but the posts may become a little less regular as I focus my efforts on building the Goalvanise following.

Watch this space for further updates about the main Goalvanise site launch too!

Thanks as always for following my blog and I hope to see you on Goalvanise in the near future 🙂

Jon

The End of Right Wing Politics?

The United States has become more ethnically and socially diverse. The Republicans have failed to adapt and have been punished at the voting box. The party has appeared ever more stubborn in its continuing war on social issues such as abortion, gay rights and immigration – this despite securing lower and lower proportions of the vote from ‘minority’ groups over the past few decades. It is precisely these issues which are increasingly alienating voters – the electorate consider the party too socially conservative, rather than just focusing on fiscal conservatism.

Sad Mitt Romney

No need to cry Mitt. You’re defeat has made the whole world rejoice!

As Howard Fineman of the Huffington Post writes, “the results made an extraordinary statement about commitment to change: in health care (Obamacare), in taxes (a push to raise rates on the wealthy), on environmental action and for activist government.” So with left wing policies increasingly in demand, and the Republican party possibly unelectable if they do not change their stance on, at the very least, social conservatism, could this mark the end of ultra right wing politics in the US? Will we see a more centrist Republican party in 4 years?

Back here in the UK, we are also left to consider whether the Conservatives are still a genuine political force. Despite widespread resentment of Labour, the Conservatives could still not secure a majority at the last election. In fact, the Tories have not won a general election for over 20 years and have seen their share of the vote fall steadily since the 1930s. Many commentators are beginning to wonder whether the Tories are too out of touch with modern Britain and are therefore now unelectable. A political force? Perhaps not. A political farce? Unquestionably!

US election world pollOn the mainland, the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy, a senior representative of Europe’s right, has boosted the confidence of Europe’s left. We are now witnessing hostile resistance to the austerity policies of right wing governments which are slowly being ousted with each passing election. 

So is this the end of right wing politics as we know it? Across the world, citizens are becoming increasingly aware that the right wing’s misguided belief in a deregulated free market does not act in their interest – and it is decades of financial deregulation which in fact caused the crisis that they are now being forced to pay for. The graph also comprehensively shows the world’s negative attitude towards America’s right. An opening has therefore emerged and it remains to be seen whether the left can take advantage and successfully move away from the centred ground.

If the debate can shift away from traditional right verses left sticking points then perhaps we can start to build a new, and better form of politics. One where we begin to examine the system itself and debate how it can better serve the needs of the populace – rather than the needs of corporations and the ruling elite.

50 Goals in a Year – A Review

It’s come to the end of my quest to achieve ’50 Goals in a Year’. The challenge was intended to help me focus on what was important in my life, make me publicly accountable for my goals, and generally inspire me to lead a more active and fulfilling life. It certainly achieved this! It’s without doubt been one of the most memorable years of my life. I’ve accomplished a great number of often long held life goals in a short space of time. But, at the end of the year, how many of my 50 goals did I manage to achieve? Read on to find out!

Adventure & Sport

✓ Bag my first 10 Munros + ✓ Climb the highest mountain in the UK > Watch ‘A Munro Bagging Microadventure’ to see why I’ve fallen in love with Scotland! These goals will now be the start of a lifelong quest to ‘bag’ all 284 Scottish mountains above 3000 feet – the Munros.

Snowdon blanketed in snow from the lake below

A magnificent Snowdon blanketed in snow 19.02.12

✓ Climb a mountain in the snow > The walk that’s now inspired me to undertake far more winter mountaineering – as well as attempt to climb Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, in 2013 (watch ‘A Microadventure in Snowdonia‘ to see our incredible ascent of the breathtaking Snowdon in the snow)

✓ Play curling > Read ‘Curling – The Greatest Sport in the World?’ to see how we fared playing this bizarre but brilliant sport (includes a short video of our exploits!)

Bridge jumping

Practising my dive bombing!

✓ Crawl through the ‘wormhole’ + ✓ Go wild swimming + ✓ Sleep under the stars + ✓ Watch the sun rise on a mountain top – I accomplished these together over the course of one of the best days of my life (read ‘The Wormhole, Bridge Jumping & Sleeping Under the Stars’).

✓ Play in an 11-a-side football game > Read ‘Football’s Greatest Grudge Match’ for an account of my 11-a-side debut for University of Sheffield Staff in a brutal grudge match against rivals Hallam University.

Horse and rider in black and white

My first proper riding lesson on Jasper – now comfortable in a rising trot without hands! 01.09.12

✓ Ride a horse > I’m now taking frequent riding lessons courtesy of my wonderful horse riding instructor girlfriend, and am working towards being able to canter and jump within the next year or so.

✓ Take climbing lessons > I’ve had lessons both indoors and outdoors and made enormous progress in overcoming my vertigo.

✓ Try a new team sport > I played Korfball – a mixed-gender sport with elements of basketball and netball. Better than both in my opinion but I didn’t have to time to commit to playing regularly.

SkyBow archery

Fulfilling a life dream: archery… but with a difference…

✓ Try archery > Robin Hood step aside… read ‘Segway and SkyBow‘ to see how I got on shooting arrows at moving targets in the sky.

✓ Try skiing > First lesson successfully completed – now saving up for more lessons. Bring on the black run!

X Raft from source to sea > I’ve found it much harder than anticipated to use the kayak on English rivers due to access rights. Now planning to kayak from Sheffield to the sea along the canal network as well as across Scotland in the near future.

X Run a marathon > I was training for a marathon in October but postponed it to instead run the London Marathon as part of my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer (it was probably for the best as I’d done not nearly enough training)

X Score another half century in cricket > I notched up scores of 48, 42, 40 and 38 but the half century evaded me. I do believe this goal inspired me to my highest ever season average though.

Career & Finance

Career Detectives by Big Green Fox

Big Green Fox’s first press coverage in The Star

✓ Appear in a newspaper for my own business > My business Big Green Fox has now been featured in local, regional and national press. Read ‘Game On for Career Ideas’ for our first newspaper coverage in the Sheffield Star.

✓ Earn a living from my own business > A meagre living, but a living all the same – the low current salary is more than offset by the perks of self-employment (flexible working, holidays when I want, working from home, not having to report to anyone etc etc)

✓ Get out of my overdraft (and stay out!) > By streamlining my living costs, finally reclaiming my directors loan from my previous employer and earning income through my business I’ve clawed my way out of my overdraft and stayed out for well over six months.

Career Detectives✓ Patent an invention > Read ‘My First Invention: Career Detectives’ for details of the first product I have patented through my company Big Green Fox.

X Appear on the radio for my own business > I did appear on a radio phone in about bucket lists however never managed to arrange to talk specifically about my own business. I’ll certainly be trying again when we launch Goalvanise though.

Community

Boycott Tesco painting

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. Join the boycott of Tesco…

✓ Actively boycott my blacklisted companies > An ongoing goal to boycott the world’s most unethical companies – read ‘Every Little Hurts: Why To Boycott Tesco’ for one such example.

✓ Give blood regularly > Another ongoing goal – I’ve donated four times over the year i.e. whenever I am requested.

✓ Go vegetarian for a month > Following my trial month of vegetarianism I have significantly reduced my meat intake and stopped buying beef and lamb altogether (they are the high methane emitting animals and my meat concerns are mainly environmental).

✓ Mentor someone > I’ve offered advice to budding entrepreneurs and community groups informally over the year and also signed up to the Lighthouse Self-Leadership Project, which will lead to more formal mentoring.

✓ Start recycling > Not easy in such a small flat with almost zero storage space, but I’ve started and plan to expand the scope when I move next month.

✓ Volunteer on a community project > I’ve volunteered my time on the Boards of community projects Youth Consortium Sheffield, Signposts Writers Projects and the National Community Wrestling Alliance.

? Make the world a better place > Highly debatable this one! I’ve worked to established two socially-orientated businesses, protested and raised awareness of political and corporate injustices, promoted positive alternatives to our current unjust and unequal system, maintained a blog which has (as I’ve been told) inspired numerous people and generally tried to lead an ethical and (at least more) sustainable lifestyle. On the flip side, I still consume too many of the world’s scarce resources and could undoubtedly be a better person as well as have more of a positive social and environmental impact. So it’s a tough call. But given that I’ve pro-actively tried – and I suppose it’s still early for many of my aspirations to be realised e.g. the social impact of my businesses etc – I’ll award this goal a tentative tick. More work to be done though…

X Plant a tree > Apparently I got my timings all wrong with this and so need to wait until late autumn – so I’m planning to help plant an orchard at my mum’s house next time I’m there.

Friends & Family

Dinner party

The penultimate round of our Come Dine with Me competition 03.09.12

✓ Play ‘Come Dine with Me’ with friends > A fantastic experience I can strongly recommend – my friends and I are now intending to hold more regular dinner parties.

X Ask a friend to write a random goal I must complete > My friend Ollie has given me the goal “Recreate Team GB’s finest moments” and I’ll be completing this as part of my 10 Challenges 4 Cancer

Health & Fitness

✓ Exercise on average 3 times per week > I’ve comfortably achieved this over the year however do need to get into a more regular routine of daily exercise.

Personal Development

✓ Become proficient in photography > I’ve certainly become much better. As to ‘proficient’… you be the judge and watch my Year in Photos video.

The perfect spot for a wild swim

My first wild swim in a British river

✓ Challenge my fear of deep water > I first challenged myself by swimming across Blackroot Lake in Sutton Park, as well as several wild swims in the River Derwent – but then later, in Zakynthos, I became quite happy snorkelling in water at least 10-20 metres deep. I’ve not quite overcome this fear, but I’ve certainly come along way…

✓ Create something out of wood > Ok, this one is pretty much a cop out. We built a raised garden. Technically it counts but it’s not at all what I was intending to create out of wood. It’s something I intend to re-visit and make something genuinely skilful/creative.

Painting of Offa's Dyke Path

My first painting since school (top left)

✓ Sit and paint a scene > Under the guidance of my sister’s artistic talents, I sat and painted the view from the back of my mum’s house.

X Learn to say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘cheers’ in 30 languages > I’ve never been great at ‘learning’ tasks as this list of 50 Goals reveals. I researched and wrote out the vocabulary, but never got around to learning them. Anyway, see this post for the translations to do this yourself.

X Write a poem > This was the goal I was fearing the most so no real surprise it hasn’t been achieved. I’ve disliked poetry since school (to do with being forced to read hundreds of Thomas Hardy’s depressing poems about his dead wife that even he despised during her life!). I’d hoped writing a poem would help me re-engage with this art form. I’m working on one. I promise…

Travel & Leisure

Zombie face close up✓ Be an extra in a film > Read ‘My Film Debut: A Zombie Extra in The Eschatrilogy’ – a wonderful experience filled with very best of people and one I’d highly recommend.

✓ Be in a TV programme audience > I was in the audience for a couple of shows of Countdown. Every students’ dream!

✓ Drive a tractor > Read ‘Tractor Driving: Only for the Country Folk?’ for my account of a childhood dream fulfilled.

✓ Go on a balloon flight > Read ‘Balloon Flights: Just Full of Hot Air?’ for my review of balloon flights – it’s probably not what you’d expect!

Big top against glorious red sun set

The sun goes down on No Direction Home. The Electric Dustbowl stage set against a glorious sun set. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

✓ Go to a music festival > I can’t believe it took me 29 years to do this! So very glad of my 50 Goals list for pushing me to make this happen. See “No Direction Home: A Festival in Photos’ for an insight into why it was such a great experience.

✓ Go to a classical music concert > I saw the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at Sheffield City Hall. A delightful evening – I’m certainly glad I went although I’m in no great rush to repeat it again.

Just for Fun!

✓ Go sledging > This winter’s snow provided the perfect excuse to act like a child again! I’m grateful to a large hill in Glossop for providing my first sledging experience since childhood. Sledging… one of the simplest pleasures in life!

✓ Learn to solve a Rubic’s cube > Another childhood dream fulfilled! I can’t quite solve it without my cheat sheet of the algorithms yet but I’m well on the way.

Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's Cathedral

Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral taken on a walk along the south bank 16.07.12

✓ Spend a day taking photos of my city >  As I spent all year photographing Sheffield I decided to do a photography tour of London by following the Monopoly Board. Watch ‘A Lap of the Monopoly Board’ to see the results.

✓ Take a photo every day for a year > Watch ‘A Year in Photos‘ video to see the results (in 4 minutes) of my yearlong photography challenge. This was one of the most rewarding projects of my life. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

X Learn a magic trick > This should have been quite easy to achieve. Again, I’m really not good on ‘learning’ tasks.

Final Score: 41 Achieved (82% Success Rate)

I’m delighted with my achievements over the year. Yes, I didn’t achieve all of the goals I set out to but writing, and working towards, this list has undoubtedly helped me achieve more of the things that are important to me, and lead and fuller and more enriching life. Without this list, and holding myself publicly accountable through my blog, I firmly believe I wouldn’t have gotten around to achieving the vast majority of these goals. Everyday life would have overtaken me and the goals would have remained a dream to do ‘one day’.

I would urge anyone who hasn’t already written a Life List to grab and pen and start writing. You do not need a better pen. You do not need a better notepad. There is no ‘right date’ in the future to start achieving your life goals. The right time is always now. I also don’t want people to say that you can only achieve life goals with money so I intentionally made it so that each of my 50 Goals goals could be completed with less than £100 – and many for free. So write away… and then share it with the world to hold yourself accountable. I very much look forward to reading your own list…

Scrambling in the Lakes

You are never far from adventure in the UK. We are lucky to have so many different adventure opportunites available to us, and often right on our doorstep. Over the past year or so, as well as walking further, and higher, than I ever have before, I’ve also begun to crank up the adrenaline level of my regular walks thanks to scrambling.

For those who aren’t familiar with scrambling, it’s a method of ascending rocky faces and ridges – a difficult, hands on hillwalking route or an easy climbing route. There are scrambling routes of various difficulties all over the country. Scrambling therefore presents a fantastic opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and seek out adventure which is both local and free. It’s certainly helped me transform gentle walks in the Peak District into small but regular nuggets of adventure.

This video follows my first real experience of graded scrambling – two nerve jangling scrambles up Jake’s Rake in the Great Langdales, and the Lord’s Rake on Scafell. Two incredible experiences never to be forgotten.

If you would like to find local scrambles then I can recommend UK Scrambles which provides excellent routes and guides.

Read more: Crib Goch: An Extreme Challenge for a Vertigo Sufferer

A Year in Photos… in a 4 Minute Video!

My photo a day challenge has come to an end and I’m filled with mixed emotion. Sad that this special project has finished. Relieved of burden of finding something original to photograph every day. But immensely satisfied that I now have a collection of 366 treasured photos taken each day over possibly the best year of my life.

The project has undoubtedly helped me become more creative with photography, document my life in a unique way, be more active and explore new places, and to see the world in a different way, seeing beauty in the most ordinary of things.

To celebrate the completion of this challenge I’ve made a short 4 minute video collating these photos into some sort of order. I hope you enjoy!

(The song is just one I love, and fits well to the tempo, but the lyrics are not meant to be relevant – you’ll see why!)

I do hope that this may inspire you to complete your own photo a day project. I promise you won’t regret the decision to start…

Click on the links below to view each month of my photo a day challenge…
Month 12Month 11Month 10Month 9Month 8Month 7Month 6Month 5Month 4Month 3Month 2Month 1

Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today…

We have never lived through a time where young people are so disenfranchised. Currently 1 in 4 young people cannot find work and a greater number than ever report feeling powerless to influence change. We therefore have a responsibility to prepare children for life after school – to ensure that they are able to seize opportunities, and even create their own, rather than simply conform. Our aim as educators should be to create a learning environment rich in context, value and purpose where children learn for the now, not just for future exams.

The world’s best education systems are competency, not content, driven. The competencies essential for young people to thrive in the modern world include: focus, preparedness, conviction, perseverance, creativity, curiosity, resilience, risk taking, independence and, most importantly, a sense of purpose.

Career Detectives

My company, Big Green Fox, has recently launched a teaching resource which helps young people develop each of these competencies whilst raising aspirations and personal value. Career Detectives, a holistic teaching resource centred around a board game, provides stimulating information about careers across all sectors within the context of a range of creative activities focused on developing these essential competencies.

One of the leading advocates of this pioneering education philosophy is Richard Gerver, who received the “School Head Teacher of the Year Award” in 2005 for leading a school on the brink of closure to becoming one of the most innovative in the world. Richard is a passionate supporter of Career Detectives and offered this endorsement:

“It has never been more important that our children understand the relevance of education for the development and realisation of their aspirations and ultimately their futures. Too many young people struggle to understand what their interests and strengths can lead to in adult life. Career Detectives in an innovative, fun and powerful tool that connects life and learning brilliantly!”

Career Detectives is a resource for the innovative and forward thinking educator. Yes, the resource helps schools evidence a number of Ofsted outcomes. Yes, it enhances the core curriculum and therefore aids attainment. But more so, the use of Career Detectives is a significant step in schools helping children understand who they are, their purpose at school, and the value they can offer their community and the wider world. Career Detectives helps create a learning environment rich in context, value and purpose for all children, not just those who are academically gifted.

Please click here for more information about Career Detectives. For anyone interested in progressive reforms to the education system, then I would also urge you to check out Richard Gerver’s blog articles here. He undoubtedly is one of the most inspirational leaders of our generation.

20 Questions Worth Answering Honestly (And My Responses)

This is undoubtedly the most difficult, and yet most rewarding, blog post I’ve ever written. I’ve found it an incredibly useful exercise to help me re-focus on my own goals for the future – and how I plan to achieve them – at a time when I was feeling particularly unsure about whether I was prioritising my time, energy and money on the right things. It’s certainly not easy answering these questions with honesty, genuine honesty, and they do require you to face up to some uncomfortable truths, but having answered them I feel reinvigorated and eager to start on turning my ambitions into reality.

Before I get into my answers, I’d like to thank Al Humphreys for creating this list of questions and for continually inspiring me to challenge myself and live on the edge of, and beyond, my comfort zone.

Here we go then… 20 questions worth answering (I hope you consider answering them too)…

1. Do you earn enough money?

No. On a basic level, I’m not earning enough to be secure financially. On a more aspirant level, I’m not earning nearly enough to reach my ambitious goal of financial independence by the time I’m 40, or to enable me to invest into bringing about positive social change as I desire. However one of my businesses is developing well and the other is due to launch soon – so the foundations are certainly laid for this situation to change dramatically.

2. Do you enjoy your job?

It’s a delight to be able to offer a resounding ‘yes’ to this question. Starting my own business is possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. The lifestyle and freedom it brings is certainly compensation for the (currently) much lower income. Obviously entrepreneurship has its low moments – but these just serve to make the highs even more enjoyable.

3. Do you prefer Saturday or Monday?

In all honestly there is now very little difference (outside of cricket season at least!). If I have a free weekend I’ll quite happily spend it in ‘work’ mode. Equally being self-employed affords me the opportunity to use my weekdays flexibly and regularly take time off. That said, I have become quite fond of first thing on Monday morning – the chance to plan for the week ahead and get stuck into a new week of opportunity…

4. What would you like to be doing one year from now?

I’d like my first business, Big Green Fox, to be trading at a level which means I can draw a more reasonable salary. I’d like for my second business, Goalvanise, to be well on its way to becoming commercially viable. I’d also like to be continuing to challenge myself with ‘microadventures’ but also be starting to undertake more challenging adventures. I also still want to be achieving life goals across all areas of my life.

5. What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Still very similar in terms of lifestyle, although starting a family could be one possible major development! I’m aiming for both businesses to be thriving and earning me an income sufficient to start investing in other social enterprise projects. I’d like to have gained the skills and experience to be able to undertake much more ambitious adventures – and of course still be pro-actively ticking off my life goals.

6. What would you do with your life if you were a billionaire?

I’d convert both my businesses to a not-for-profit model and employ specialists who could better realise their social aims. I’d play a more distant role in their management to free me up to spend more quality time with friends and family, undertake full scale expeditions, take long trips in distant lands. I’d also become an angel investor and help grow other social enterprise projects – and help my friends and family realise their own ambitions. I don’t crave any of the excesses associated with wealth, so I can’t imagine my lifestyle would change too much otherwise. Is it possible to live a modified version of this life anyway? To a very limited extent, I already am.

7. How much could you cut your outgoings by?

My everyday outgoings have already been considerably streamlined. I could possibly spend less on food but don’t really spend much on anything that isn’t closely associated with my businesses or life goals and adventure/travel (much of this is done extremely frugally too i.e. hitchhiking, camping etc).

8. Do you have enough spare time to do the things you really enjoy?

Only for short periods of time – I struggle to plan in anything that would take longer than a week because of my commitments to my business(es). It’ll be difficult to change this until I’m in a position to employ staff and delegate work.

9. What takes up a lot of your time but is neither unavoidable, rewarding nor enjoyable?

General admin for Big Green Fox. Unfortunately we’re not in a position to pay anyone else to do this yet.

10. What mildly pleasant, but pretty pointless things do you fritter too much time doing?

Anyone who knows me well will know I’m guilty of debating politics on Facebook far too much. Although this is enjoyable, I’m sure this energy would be better spent elsewhere and is something I need to make an effort to cut out. Equally I spend a lot of time reading about politics and current affairs online. Again, this is rewarding but is time that could be spent better. It could be argued my personal blog is pretty pointless as I don’t draw an income from it – but I enjoy writing it, it holds me to account in leading a full and varied life and, as I’ve been told, it is serving to inspire others.

11. What would you like to do more of?

More proper mountaineering, long expeditions, and spending time in countries outside of Europe (even while managing my businesses via ‘the cloud’). Also, making videos! Not with money in mind, it’s just fun! Plus helping other people to start business projects, seek adventure and achieve their life goals (the launch of Goalvanise should certainly help with the last two).

12. What motivates you to do something well?

Personal pride and satisfaction. Public accountability (hence my Life List online). I particularly thrive when a challenge is competitive.

13. Who do you envy, and why?

People who started doing amazing things early in life e.g. setting up a business while at school. People who have been able to make a living out of traveling the world and seeking adventure. People who earn a living whilst living on a beach in Bali! People who are better than me at things I want to be good at (not a good trait, but it does also spur me on to become better). Oh and my friend Chris who’s currently cycling around the world.

14. If you were 100 and looking back on your life, would you be happy with a life well-lived?

For the most part. I think I’ve achieved a great deal with my life so far, and done and experienced a great many things. I don’t have any major regrets although am always painfully aware that I could be leading an even fuller life, be more efficient with my time etc. I try to live by this quote:

“In twenty years from now you will regret the things you didn’t do far more than the things you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” Mark Twain

15. What makes you proud, satisfied, and content?

Proud: the ‘highs’, those magic ‘ this is working’ moments, on the entrepreneurial rollercoaster or when I hear that my actions have inspired someone to do something new / challenge themselves.

Satisfied: challenging myself, both physically and intellectually, and then succeeding or planning for my next project / adventure.

Content: simple pleasures – a couple of cheeky ales, a good meal or a shared experience with those closest to me.

16. What makes you frustrated, bored, and unfulfilled?

When my life feels stagnant and I’m not making the most of my time and energy.

17. What would you do if you had more talent?

Write more. Speak more. Inspire more.

18. What would you do if you had more guts?

Write more. Speak more. Inspire more.

19. What would you do with your life if nobody was watching, judging or commenting?

This one really has me stumped! I’m torn between a) Little different from what I’m doing at present and b) Get on a bike and cycle…

20. What are you going to do about all this?

Rise earlier, procrastinate less, prioritise better

Run more, cycle more, swim more

Continue to grow Big Green Fox into an established business

Launch Goalvanise and work hard to make it commercially viable

Use Goalvanise as a mechanism to write and inspire more

Continue to microadventure… but make them progressively more inventive and challenging

Organise an annual expedition with friends

Review my Life List annually and try to achieve 50 Goals every year

Explore more, dream more, discover more…

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If you’d like to answers these questions yourself, click here for Al’s original post which also contains the prompts to help you answer.

Bloody Foreigners! Let’s Build a Giant Wall Around the UK!

Bloody foreigners. Coming over here stealing our jobs. Let’s build a wall. A giant wall. All around the coast of the UK. Screw the coastal scenery and ecology – immigration is ruining our country. But we’ll need a door in the wall. Us Brits like our foreign holidays you see. Oh and we’ll need to be able to get to our second homes on the continent. And obviously we’ll need to be able to leave so we can go and work abroad. There’s millions of us who like to do that. There are more jobs overseas you see. And they’re often better paid. So we need to be able to come and go to take advantage of those.

Giant wall / fence to stop immigration

The anti-immigration wall that’s worked so well in America!

So we need the giant wall to keep the foreigners out of our country. But a giant door to allow us Brits to leave when we want, so can we take foreigners jobs (and women), and inflate their property markets so that only we can afford to buy their homes. Yes! The building of the wall (and the door) could even help grow our own economy by creating jobs. This is perfect!

Oh, hang on, we don’t have enough engineers to build the wall. So we’ll also need another small door to allow some foreign engineers in. Just a few though. Oh, but what if the workers get ill – we don’t have enough doctors. Ok, so let’s build another door for some foreign doctors. Only a few mind. And us Brits like everything to be organised. So we’ll need an IT system. Damn. We don’t have enough IT specialists. Ok let’s have another door for them too. And maybe one for a few more cleaners – we wouldn’t want the wall to be unsightly now would we.

Right. I’ve got it. We’ll build a big wall. But have a massive door to allow us all out to go and live and work where we choose. And then we’ll have a door for engineers, a door for doctors, a door for IT specialists, and a door for cleaners. And then, just in case, maybe another door for any other labour that we might need because we must get this wall built to keep all the foreigners out. Great! Now I can relax knowing none of those bloody foreigners can ruin our country.