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Esc Hero #14: ‘Hard is working in a job you don’t enjoy’

1. What are you currently doing?

My name is Tim Moss and I recently gave up a paid job to do my own thing. It’s hard to put into words what exactly I’m doing because I don’t think it really fits into a box (and I’m not entirely sure myself what it is). But I know it involves the following:

  • Having adventures, taking on challenges and going on expeditions
  • Writing about my experiences past, future and present
  • Encouraging other people to take on challenges of their own and helping them to do so
  • Blogging on my website www.thenextchallenge.org
  • Embracing life with arms wide open
  • Spending as little money as possible because I’m working without an income.

Tim

More specifically, these are some of the things I’m working on at the moment:

2. What did you do before this?

I worked for BSES Expeditions in the Royal Geographical Society organising Arctic expeditions for young people. Sounds pretty cool eh? And it was but, after a couple of years, it was threatening to become something I just did rather than something that I loved. I’m not a good faker. If I don’t enjoy something then it’s pretty obvious pretty quickly so I knew it was time to get out.

3. How long have you dreamt of doing this?

4 years and 2 months.

I’d just got back from one of those adventures I mentioned above and a guy from my university hockey team approached me for help cycling a rickshaw across the States.

I hadn’t the foggiest about riding rickshaws but he thought that I “knew about that sort of thing” so I gave him a hand. I’ve been trying to do the same for other people ever since.

4. What inspired you to do it?

Tim2My moment of truth came whilst running round Hyde Park on my lunch break. I’d been thinking about leaving my job for a while but hadn’t had the guts to say it out loud. I mentioned it to my running partner half hoping for a “Nice idea but let’s be realistic”. Instead I got “Sounds like you’ve thought it through”. I emailed my boss as soon as I got back to my desk.

Working in the Royal Geographical Society it was impossible not to be inspired by the people that would walk through it’s halls and sit on tables next to me at lunchtime. But it was the discovery that people actually did this sort of thing as their primary occupation that really got me.

I was particularly inspired by Al Humphreys and when I found out that he was a “full-time adventurer”, it gave me something to aspire to.

I enjoyed going through Ranulph Fiennes’ thought process in “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know” when he slowly realises that he might be able to make a life from expeditions. And I also drew inspiration from my friend Rob Cousins (Hero profile coming soon) who, at the tender age of 30, is preparing for his second “retirement”, as he calls it (or is it third now Rob? You’re so lazy I lose track…)

5. From a practical perspective, how did you plan for it?

I made the decision without too much consideration for practicalities but I realise that I’d be implicitly planning in the back of my mind for some time.

I tapered my working hours from full time to leaving over a period of months and am very thankful to my boss for that arrangement. I also moved out of my flat as soon as practical to stay with my parents, buying me time to build a plan without draining the savings so quickly.

6. How are you funding it?

I don’t like talking about money because it doesn’t interest me and often gives people an excuse not to try something. Money is overrated and you won’t realise it until you give something else a try.

But, if it helps, here is my utterly unmiraculous funding plan:

  1. I had been putting money aside each month for something such as another expedition (or, as it happened, a great big life changing move). This was in the region of £1000. I still have half of it.
  2. I worked part-time and reduced my costs by moving out of my flat, cycling everywhere, making sandwiches and trying to avoid tempting beers/coffee shops/toys.
  3. I now plan to do any temporary/part-time job I can find as long as it leaves me enough time to work on what I really want to do.

This, clearly, is not a long-term plan but  it motivates me in two ways: First, the less I spend, the longer I can sustain my work. Second, the harder I have to work because I know I have limited time.

7. What was the hardest thing about making this happen?

The honest answer is that it wasn’t hard. Hard is working in a job you don’t enjoy. Hard is getting up every morning, dragging yourself to a workplace you don’t want to go to, putting effort into projects that aren’t important to you and making it through the day. Hard is dedicating days, weeks, months, years of your life to something you don’t believe in. That’s hard. That takes effort and determination.

What I did was easy. I wasn’t enjoying my job so I left. I love doing what I’m doing now so I keep doing it. Everyone has been supportive – friends, family, strangers, even my boss from the job I left. The sacrifices I’ve made so far have been minimal – I don’t miss my flat, I like riding my bike, not buying new stuff doesn’t bother me. I may still be in the honeymoon period but when the hard times come I hope the love for my work will provide as much determination as other people have to make it through the day in a job they do for money or a sense of “that’s what I’m supposed to do”, not love.

TheNextChallenge

8. What has been the best thing about having made this happen?

The impact it has had on the rest of my life. The plan was to find more joy from my work, not from everything else in life. That, apparently, has been a nice side effect.

9. What advice would you give to other people who want to do something similar?

Don’t think about it too hard, don’t try to convince yourself, just start the motions.

Order some books/magazines about whatever your interested in; go to or organise a club/meeting/social about it; start a savings account/website/project folder with your idea’s name on it; call up or email the charity official/bank manager/coach/employer and start a dialogue.

I can’t tell you exactly what those motions are because I don’t know what you’re trying to achieve but you know what you need to do.

You can never know in advance what the right decision is and there are more questions about this sort of thing than you could ever possibly have answered. So just start taking the first small steps and, by the time you look up, you may have walked further than you think.

10. What resources have you found really useful?

Google Reader and RSS Feeds. If you don’t know what they are then, well, Google them! It’s a bit like unlimited free magazine subscriptions.

Free software. My empire is commanded from a £200 laptop filled with free Open Source Software: WordPress for my website; GIMP for photo/image editing; OpenOffice for my presentations, budgets and this article; Remember The Milk and Google Calendar to keep organised; Gmail for email; Ubuntu instead of Windows (it looks just like it)

Blogging and Twitter have been great as they give a focus to my work and, by sharing it all with other people, my friends (and complete strangers) can get involved and give me support.

These articles are good:

11. What else?

If you read one of these Esc Hero Profiles and think “I’ll do that one day” or “I wish I could do that” then take your first step now. Email someone, order a book, tell your best friend, go outside and start it. It requires no more thought, effort or commitment than that. You really can just start.

Go on.

It’s just a tiny little step…

(If you’d like a hand with anything then drop me a line – tim@thenextchallenge.org)