Here’s how to follow your dreams and turn your passion and sense of adventure into a full blown career, from a man who did just that.
Chances are, you’re sitting at your desk right now, hunched over a computer with sore shoulders and a stiff neck as you read this. It’s the same position you’ve been in all day.
Or maybe you’re reading it on a smart phone screen, jostling home from a long day in the office or browsing on your laptop before you drop into bed, only to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. Very few of you will be reading this from the place you’d truly like to be, an exotic location maybe, out in the fresh air and sunshine or a place you’ve chosen to visit just because you felt the urge to let your feet wander.
Most of us are too entrenched in our comfortable daily ruts to let our passions become anything more than fleeting daydreams, mostly because we’re scared of what’s on the other side of the door. But according to Ben Southall, that’s exactly what’s holding us all back.
Southall has, both officially and unofficially, the best job in the world. The 39-year-old Brisbane-based adventure advocate, digital journalist and presenter spends his days exploring the world and telling stories. A dream career for anybody with itchy feet who doesn’t want to be stuck behind a desk. In 2009 Ben emerged from a pool of 35,000 hopefuls to win Tourism Queensland’s inaugural ‘Best Job in the World’ competition and took his place in the six-month $150,000 caretaker role on Hamilton Island. As the envy of many, Southall spent half a year exploring Queensland, filming, photographing and blogging his adventures.
It would be easy to hate him for his seemingly idyllic job and lifestyle, if he hadn’t worked so hard to get it.
“It’s a bit of a cliché but I wanted to take the path less traveled, to see the globe and not get stuck in the mundane rut of life that everybody seems to get stuck in,” he says.”Everybody does school, then university and then moves into a job. Now, I’ve done that but I’ve also managed to inspire myself and challenge myself with new adventures. All which helped me get the role of ‘best job in the world’. It’s because of this mentality that I have now been able to leap-frog ahead and continue having adventures in different parts of the world.
“In 2007 I set off to drive around Africa, because I was very much stuck in a rut of living for the weekend, of going out and having that standard party lifestyle. Work Monday to Friday, drink on a Friday, drink on a Saturday and do the same week in and week out. Going out and exploring the world really gave me a different perspective on what matters.”
Southall’s lifestyle sounds like a dream come true, but as he details in his new book, The Best Job in the World , it didn’t come easily.
“In order to have this lifestyle and career, you need to get yourself financially and mentally prepared,” he says.”There are opportunities out there if you want to travel and support yourself through stories and taking photos.
“The trick is to make yourself unique and find your niche. Everybody wants to do this, it’s the perfect way to make money and travel. Before my first trip I saved up for three years while I was working in England, it was not some decision I made overnight. It took a lot of planning and many long hours of turning my adventure plan into a financial fundraising expedition. During that time I also built myself a good business model of why companies would want to support me and back me. At that stage I was an unknown, an average Joe going off on an adventure.
“I didn’t want this book to be just a memoir of my travels or just the story of my life. It’s a how-to book full of practical advice of exactly what you need to do to get your dream job, if your dream job is to have adventures and travel the world. It teaches you how to make a living through travel and adventure, take a lifetime dream and make it into a reality and how to make key decisions when planning a journey or adventure.
“There’s more to living then just working, retiring, dying and then getting in a coffin and that’s it. Game over. You just need to be brave enough to side-step the expected lifestyle and do what you want.”
The Best Job in the World will be available in all good book stores from November 1.