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I’ve just returned from a week working as a Duke of Edinburgh supervisor in the Brecon Beacons National Park. I was working on a freelance basis for AtoZ Expeditions and my role was to teach a small group from a school from Surrey the necessary skills to complete a four-day, self-supported walking expedition. I would also supervise the group as they passed through the Brecon Beacons on their four-day journey through the wilds of South Wales.

I do less freelance work than I used to but really enjoy working on the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and, in particular, working for AtoZ Expeditions. Many years ago, the Duke of Edinburgh scheme was what sparked my interest in the outdoors which I have now turned into a career, so I have a lot of thanks for it!

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A shot of Sugar Loaf in the Brecon Beacons

A few years ago I decided to answer the age-old dinner party question of “So, what do you do?” with anything but the way in which I earn money. I have never been keen to allow the way in which I earn money dictate who I am, so instead answer with my hobbies – “I cycle, do a bit of climbing, have recently taken up skiing and also love to travel”. This has been met with mixed reactions and invariably the conversation will inevitably end up talking about how we earn money.

I hate the fact that status in the world is dictated by our chosen job or career. Since I began my working life as a paperboy at the tender age of 11, I’ve had many different jobs – builder, shopfitter, cleaner, McDonalds burger-maker, barman, vacuum cleaner salesman, marquee erector, geography teacher, farmhand…just to name a few!

I was fitting some double glazing near my home town in 2007 when I got a call from an HR manager of an overseas expedition company that I’d been interviewed by in the previous week,

“We’d like you to lead an expedition to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil – do you want it?”

I genuinely could not believe my ears. Here I was in yet another clock-watching job that I really was not enjoying, and I’d been offered a job leading a group to the other side of the world, to a country I’d never visited, to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. It was at this point (after I’d put down the pane of glass I was holding in place) that I decided I would never work in a job that I would be clock-watching and that I didn’t enjoy.

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Drinking water from a vine in the Amazon.

So what is a ‘good job’? We’re taught in schools that certain career paths are undoubtedly better than others, but why? Is it purely based upon the amount of money that someone earns in a particular job or something else?

The former¬†troubles me deeply as I’m a believer that you should follow your passion and do what you love. My passion is travel and adventure, and, whilst it’s probably never going to make me a millionaire, I love my job and don’t really think of it as work. Success should definitely not be defined by the amount of money we earn but are we doing what we love doing.

Waiting for my group in the Brecon Beacons
Waiting for my group in the Brecon Beacons

Getting money is almost an added benefit of my job and I feel that more people should expect this of their job. It’s criminal to clock-watch your life away in a job you hate, so you cannot afford not to something you love doing – after all, you’re going to be doing it for the majority of your life!

My office for the week
My office for the week

Living for the weekend isn’t how it should be, and, as Seth Godin puts it, “instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from” (I have this as my desktop background!).

Since the expedition to Brazil, I’ve transformed the way in which I see ‘work’, and have spent the last nine years finding meaningful work that helps others, but also makes me happy. For me, this is the only way in which I want to live (and work!).

Some wild horses join me to see the views below
Some wild horses join me to see the views below

 

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