Okay so it’s time to tell people why I’m doing this journey.
Over the last 8 years that I have been working in London I’ve noticed something about myself that was driving me crazy – I’d lost focus. When I arrived in the big smoke all fresh-faced after my masters degree and having lived in Malaysia for seven months I was game for making it in London.
I started a web design and development business called Second Variety with a truly amazing friend and business partner, Erez Odier. We worked for some great clients including Vivienne Westwood, Unilever, Intelligence Squared, Notting Hill Editions among others. The business was good and we always had clients but unfortunately cashflow was also always an issue so we made the decision to go solo, Erez went freelance and I went to work for Instinctif Partners (formerly the College Group).
I wanted to know what agency life was like and I learned a lot in my four years there. More importantly my experience working for myself gave me a different attitude to my colleagues, less deferential and more experimental which was both a blessing and curse. That experience got me the job but I was never satisfied with the pace of change.
While I had been given the opportunity to affect how digital projects were run, I was always wanting to have a more direct impact on the business but as is usual in larger organisations steering the ship requires patience and energy. After four years I feel I’ve given as much of that as I could to a business that I don’t own or have shares in. The biggest thing I learned, and if I’m honest still learning, is how to deal with people and the politics in large organisations both at Instinctif and with their clients.
I learned I could sell design as a service and that I’m pretty damn good at brainstorming ideas for digital campaigns. I was also allowed to retrain from Project Manager to Lead UX designer something I will always be grateful to Instinctif for allowing me to do. It led to working on rewarding projects like Macmillan’s new Intranet and a series of flash corporate websites as well as other interactive projects.
The more I worked these last few years the more I personally felt that I was ignoring my mind and like a hard drive everything was becoming fragmented. My mother and my teachers always said I got distracted easily and it has just been getting worse. Time is always slipping away and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was wasting more and more of it… Then I watched this video:
I think Stefan Sagmeister has the right idea: a mini-retirement every seven years or as we called it in the UK a gap year. No one should have to work all the way to retirement without some adventures in between. Likewise nobody should have to retire just because they got to a certain age – retirement is the biggest killer of old people! So I’m off to refresh my mind, my body and learn to live minimally with nothing but my bike, some clothes, a few gadgets a notebook and one single goal… to get to my family in Singapore the long way round.
I’m not doing this to raise money for charity although, as an aside for those who want to donate to something really worth while I have setup a just giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/apachesenzala
I’m not doing this to break a record, there are already plenty of headline grabbing people who seem to need to one up the last dude
I’m not doing this to rebel or escape from mainstream life
I’m not doing this because its unique, other more interesting people have shown the way
I’m doing this because it’s possible and right now I have the time and my health
I’m doing this because I love the freedom of cycling where I want without answering to anyone
I’m doing this because it scares the hell out of me and is so far out of my comfort zone it can only help me develop in ways I could never imagined
I’m doing this because I want to meet Capoeiristas across the world and play a game I love with anyone who wants to join me.
I’m doing this because I want to see as many countries as I can in this life and experience what it is to truly be a citizen of planet Earth
Maybe it’s selfish but really I’m doing this for me.
I may return to a normal settled life, or maybe like the people that came before I might find a way to become a permanent digital nomad which I think was always my aim. Either way life is everchanging and this is a challenge to see if I can at 33 adapt to all the situations the road will throw at me.
For those of you who can’t do something like this now or in the future I hope to bring you joy by showing you the world as I experience it so that perhaps you can live vicariously through me. For those of you planning your own adventure maybe we’ll meet on the way, maybe not, but I hope my experience will, like those of people before me, help you on your crazy path.