Welcome. I have a story to tell you, and some big news I want to share with you today.
On Sunday, December 26th, 2021, I picked up the book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer and read it cover to cover.
The story is a personal account of a harrowing incident now known as “The Everest Disaster,” where eight climbers were caught in a fierce blizzard while attempting to descend from the summit of Mount Everest.
Despite the expertise of Rob Hall and the other mountain leaders on the expedition, by the end of “summit day” in May 1996, eight people were dead.
I knew the story, I'd seen the film, and despite the human tragedy, I found the book enthralling.
All I could think about that evening was what it would be like to climb the world's deadliest mountain.
I became fascinated by human endurance. So much so that I wanted, and then needed, to find my own Everest.
I'm in the goal-setting business as a Financial Planner. As you'd expect, I have everything budgeted for, automated, and ticked off. I have a financial plan.
Sometimes, though, you need something more than mortgage payments and investment pots.
I needed a project.
Then, one day, a friend sitting in a group of pals on a rugby tour mentioned his new boat.
Duncan and another mate, Rod, had bought a specialist rowing boat, and they had announced they were going to row the Atlantic Ocean.
What an absolutely epic challenge, I thought, imagining the build up to launch date, their training regime, the mental game they'd be playing while rowing across that ocean, and the feeling of exhilaration making it to the other end.
The prospect of it completely captivated me.
When we returned to the UK, I received a message. It was Duncan.
“Mate, I need to talk to you about something.”
It was an invitation to join them on the boat and their voyage across the Atlantic.
This was it. Within weeks, I'd read three books on the subject.
I sat Jane, my wife, down at home. “I need to tell you something.”
“I know what you're going to say and you're not climbing Everest!” she exclaimed, emphatically.
I told her about the boys and their boat.
“This is exactly the sort of thing that idiot men do!”
Jane, it was safe to say, was not “on board” with the idea.
A few more weeks went by. I read five more books on the subject. It was all I could think about.
But, for some reason, I couldn't pull the trigger and say 'yes.'
If this was something I wanted so much, why wasn't I committing to the boat? Why was I so hesitant? Something was holding me back.
And then, one night, staring at the ceiling, it hit me.
That's not your boat. It's not your dream.
You have to row your own boat.
This was to be a solo trip across the Atlantic.
Suddenly, all worries lifted and I was left with only the thrill of the adventure.
Jump forward to March 2023, and things are a little further on.
Rowing lessons started last month, and Jane, whilst not exactly on side, is much less sweary when I bring it up.
I'm certain I can do this and do this well. I've set a target for the crossing that's ambitious. It's not a world record but it's quick.
What are the benefits so far?
Since laying down the foundations of this project, in my mind I feel happier, more motivated and inspired (I'm often at the gym at 6am), and a fire has sparked within.
Why am I telling you this?
I've realised that some people need more than just financial goals in life. They need a higher purpose.
That's profound for someone who's spent 20 years helping clients establish and achieve financial goals. Stability. Security. Safety.
But the truth is, while a financial plan is vital, most of us are searching for more.
A challenge. An adventure. An all-encompassing project.
Or at least some of us are. Maybe not sweary Jane.
As it stands, I lack the skills, fitness, and finances to get a boat across an ocean.
But every Friday at 9am, I'll drop a few words and let you know how it's going.
Maybe it'll inspire a few people to seek out and find their own Everest, ocean or first ever Park Run.
If there's one thing the project has taught me so far, here and in life, it's this...
You must always row your own boat.