A week before my first ironman world championship qualifier of 2017.
On the other side of the world New Zealand, with nothing but sun, scenery, laid back lifestyles and time to reflect.
If you’re one of my friends, this title will excite you. A sponsor, panic you. And if you’re neither. But not to worry, I hope whichever you are you can take something away from my usual mumblings.
Life’s hard. It’s no secret that day to day there are many struggles that most of us could just do without.
You spend your adult life going from handshake to handshake, emailing back and forth saying ‘sorry for the delay’.. until one of you dies…
It’s really easy to fall out of the habit of doing the things you enjoy, to let work & ‘adult life’ take over.
Gone are the school days of dashing home so you could do absolutely nothing and not a soul would care. Copying your homework off whoevers turn it was to do a few questions, so at least it looked like you’d given it a go.
Really you were all out riding tiny mountain bikes round town, playing heads and volleys in someone’s back garden or a huge game of manhunt.
Occasionally you’d have a sports fixture that would get in the way, but you all played in all 10 different sports teams so you knew there’d be nobody missing out.
SAT’s, GCSE’s, detention, break time, the 3 o’clock bell, the chuckle brothers, dick and dom on a Saturday morning.
PS1, PS2, word shark and the word paper clip that used to do fun things for you.
The list is endless, a continual reel of things that defined & shaped your childhood, and every kid your generation knows. They’ll remember all the things as if it was yesterday.
And the funny thing is, that was just my generation, for the older folk among you, you’ll have things you relate to. All be it a completely different list, like the invention of the wheel and the dinosaurs getting wiped out.
But your parents will have it, and theirs before them, and it goes on.
It’s very easy to forget that everyone has been there, everyone was young once. In an ever changing world there’s far more uncertainty. The 21st century is a crazy place where nothing is set in stone. The average person can have up to 9 careers, 7 sexual partners and a brand new super virus that back in your day, you’d have just shaken off and got on with. Obviously.
Freddos are almost 30p, you can buy your way into the main seat in the White House, but you can’t buy an actual house, if you’re under the age of 30.
In the worlds most powerful country buying a gun is easier than buying a beer.
It’s hard in the new world. The struggle is real.
But why do we go day to day, doing things we just don’t care about? Things that really, have absolutely no benefit to our lives.
We just slot in with the rest of society, doing things because we think we should. Because that’s the way it’s always been.
Just stop doing it, and make a change.
Be foolish, make mistakes. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or you’re 50. You don’t know everything, and in 20 years time you may still look back and think: ‘I really wish I’d done that’.
Well now is the time.
Quit your job, go travelling, start a business, take a risk. If you’re young, move away, try new things. It gets a lot harder when you settle down, get engaged, have a wife and kids.
And no, I’m not saying be reckless, I’m not saying throw your life away.
You have to be serious, and you have to understand that it’s tough. It’s scary, and it’s going to be hard. But than doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Nothing in life comes free, you have to be prepared to go through tough times, but make them work.
In the final few weeks of our architecture degree, we had a lecture about why not to be an architect. And it really caught my attention.
It’s very easy to go through your degree certain on what you’ll become, because you have to, because it seems obvious. A straight choice.
But that doesn’t necessarily point in the right direction.
Degrees now are fantastic at teaching you a diverse range of skills. You can leave university with a transferable skill set broad enough to point you in any direction, and the world really is your oyster.
All of you will know I turned my back on architecture to attempt to become a triathlete.
I hear the same things over and over. Architecture is a solid career, pays the bills, design cool stuff, have lots of fun.
Well not exactly.
Now I’ve changed career I’ve noticed something very clear.
Everyones perception of everyone else’s career is a glamorous high life that everybody should envy.
And really that’s just not it.
Architecture isn’t designing amazing buildings day to day.
Triathlon isn’t flying around the world racing here there and every where.
And all the rich city folk you know that graduated on £45k+ are mostly earning the same rate per hour as an employee at McDonalds.
Of course, each has its perks. Architecture is designing the dream building, once or twice in a career.
The summer of triathlon is all racing, if you can make it through the vicious winter of cold, wet, boring miles.
And the city jobs do pay a fortune for when you get chance to spend it.
But you have to find something you enjoy, something you’re good at, and something you want to make work.
Because if you’re realistic with yourself and you’re prepared to put the work in. It can, and will, happen.
So go travel the world, but think how you’re going to fund it, where you can work, how you can save.
Start up your own business, but be careful with the money, and make sure you’re ready to go through to the tough times with it too.
Go out and make mistakes, get stuff wrong. Cause that’s how we learn, and no matter how old you are, you can still give it a shot.
Follow your dreams and all that. The clichés are true. You have to be prepared to work, but it can work! Nobody else is going to do it for you.
Because the last thing you want, is your future self to start a story with ‘I wish I’d’…
Be the one saying ‘remember when’.
P.s. Life isn’t here forever. If it isn’t getting in the way of your career, have the beer, eat the cake.