Expeditions are just like icebergs; it might seem like the hard work is done on the move but in actual fact about 80% of the work is below the surface, before the official start line.
Planning an expedition requires patience, dedication, the ability to deal with rejection and disappointment and the grit to carry right on through until it’s done. Sounds like an endurance journey already, doesn’t it?!
I'm not much of a planner, but of course you need to get to your start line, organise the right gear, ensure you're safe and do enough to let the adventure take you on a journey, so here are my essential steps for planning a long journey:
Decide on a Process
Too much planning will suck the juice out of your dream faster than you can say 'I'm going to cut my toothbrush in half to save weight.'
The only critical information you need to enjoy an adventure is the following:
What can kill me or stop this project early?
And how do I avoid these things.
If you have a solution to 'what's the worst that can happen?' then you're home and dry.
After that, a bit of planning ahead can save you some money, or it could cost you extra. It won't be an adventure if you know where every shop is en route, this is your chance for freedom and following a comprehensive plan from wake-up to sun-down will make this journey hard work.
Try and relax. Take a long weekend on your bike and see how you get on without a plan. If you're utterly freaked out by the absence of control then by all means get your spreadsheet on. Remember, there's no point doing this if your sense of fun is limited.
This is the golden nugget, the eureka moment. You usually know that you have the right idea because your heart starts beating very fast and suddenly you become filled with passion and a certainty that you’ve discovered a purpose that you can't ignore. And you want to tell everyone about it, now!
Make a list
I’ve seen some brilliant projects fall apart because the protagonists don’t plan sensibly. You have your idea already, so add to it by making a list of everything you:
a) Need (stuff)
b) Need to do (action)
This will give your concept some tangibility, it'll start to feel real.
Then, start ticking off items from the list - once you’ve done them all you’re ready to go!
Pad out your project
As soon as I’ve been slapped around the happy chops with an original idea for an expedition I’ll grow that seed by slowly building a mini website.
Suddenly you see the project coming together before you, it’s a marvellous way to clarify everything (with the extra added incentive of being able to add extra content to your pretty idea as soon as the journey starts.)
If you’re devoid of web skills never fear - try Squarespace, Moonfruit, Wix, Strikingly or any number of a-monkey-could-do-this self-build platforms. If my 10 year-old nephew can master website design with his eyes shut, you can to. These journeys are all about learning, so you may as well get more skilled in the process.
Manage your time
You’re not going to get anywhere special without focus. Commit to your project, don’t waste time faffing about on Facebook or Twitter unless it’s related to your project aims. Use your time wisely and do do do.
Be realistic with timescale and budget
Don’t rush this, it’s important. You need time to get the money together. To prepare, develop skills and promote. Don’t be a cheapskate but don’t go overboard with your budget, either. Look at the list you started with (see above) and research how much each item/ service will cost as accurately as possible. There's nothing worse than stopping before you started just because you didn't nail the money side of things.
This bit is exciting. You have your own project and you can make it unique. Sure, take into account what other people have done but make your work your own. Be original. Add your own touch.
If you hope to do more of these trips and make it central to your lifestyle and maybe even your income, you need to work out your thing. Why would people follow your journeys, read your stuff, watch your films and like your tweets over all of the other amazing people doing cool things?
Your edge is that you are the only person in the world with your combination of background, skills and attitude. Don't be afraid to be you, it's your ultimate superpower.
Talk about your project
Vocalising your aims is a surefire way to get constructive feedback, to find people who can help you out and, of course, as soon as you start telling people what you’re up to it’s extra incentive to make sure you actually do it!
There's nothing like a good conversation to stretch out the creases of an idea so find a friend who can listen well, and the process of talking out loud will guide you nicely.
Work hard and take responsibility
This is your moment to shine. Work hard and you’ll increase your chances of success. You’re the one responsible at all times because this is your project. Sometimes people will let you down but you’re the one who brought them onboard (in whatever capacity) in the first place. If you have to take a step backwards, step forwards quickly, stronger than before.
Finally, get the balance right between planning effectively and over-planning. It’s possible to prepare TOO much, leaving no life for your expedition to breathe. Adventures are supposed to be filled with uncertainty. and the sooner you embrace this your chances of finishing thing will rise exponentially.
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