What is my purpose?

This is a rather expansive question but one I have been wrestling with since moving to Chamonix. What is my purpose? What am I actually doing right now? And, am I happy with that direction?

Every great change is preceded by chaos – Deepak Chopra

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Falling off the wagon

It has been quite an eventful few months; Sophie and I completed the Alpine Coast to Coast, I managed to get out for some of my own climbing, and we have been back in the UK meeting friends and family, even giving a few talks. And falling off the wagon. Hard. It has been amazing but I have made compromises en route that have led me to where I am today – pretty disappointed and feeling a little too sorry for myself.

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At 8.50am on 25th August we stood at 4810m, the summit of Western Europe and leg 6 – to climb Mont Blanc – of the Alpine Coast to Coast complete. After our unsuccessful attempt to a few days ago, we headed back up to give it a second attempt. This time we we’re really ready; the right gear, mentally set, and physically prepared – though Sophie had the beginnings of a cold kicking in. We got it right this time.

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With a feeling of pride, I told whoever was listening ‘Well, there is so much variety to climb in Chamonix, my aim is not to climb the same route twice’. Prior to getting into Chamonix, people mostly reacted in the same way: ‘Oh, yes, well that makes sense’. When I said this to someone here, I got a very different reaction: ‘Oh, really? Why would you limit yourself like that?’.

I was a little taken aback. Maybe I had more to learn about alpine climbing than I thought. It reminded me of wanting to always do new things with my career and an older, more experienced entrepreneur smiling and advising me to not rush on too quickly.

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I nervously turned to Sophie, my finger hovering over the mouse button, ‘Am I doing this?’. The look in her eye and smile on her face confirms this is the right decision. I click the ‘Confirm’ button and I’m done. I’m on my way to becoming a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor. The first step has been taken, here is step two – telling you all and committing to trying my hardest, training hard, and loving every minute of it.

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I have sometimes found myself stuck with an opinion that I don’t fully believe any more. A position I’ve taken that I no longer agree with, or wanting to try something that I previously swore I’d never do. I want to change my mind but I’m scared: scared to tell people, scared to embarrass myself, and scared to be wrong.

Recently, I came across a blog article by Derek Sivers in which he talks about how he now loves things he previously hated, he now will only say ‘I hate that today‘ knowing that he might change his mind in the future. I can completely sympathise and I’ve come to the conclusion:

It’s ok, don’t be afraid to change your mind

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On the 25th May 2013, I married Sophie, aka Challenge Sophie, in a beautiful ceremony on the Seine, up in Normandy. After a wonderful couple of days, we set off on our honeymoon – two months in the outdoors Mecca, Chamonix. In a not so typical turn, we were going to be starting our honeymoon with a week at the Chamonix Mountain Festival, a brand new outdoor meetup for climbers and mountaineers.

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At the end of May, Sophie and I are moving to Chamonix, France, a small village at the base of Mont Blanc. Chamonix is home to some of the world’s most incredible athletes, adventurers, and explorers, and soon to be our home.

From trail running and downhill mountain biking, to rock climbing and ice climbing, to paragliding and even BASE-jumping, Chamonix is a Mecca of the outdoors and where Sophie and I have dreamed of living for many years.

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It has been 63 years since the Peak District was opened as Britain’s first National Park. Spanning an area of 550 square miles and 6 counties, it is home to some of the most beautiful countryside our shores have on offer.

I have spent countless weekends out in the hills of the Peak; days climbing on Stanage Edge, winter walking on Kinder Scout, camping with friends, and more. Here is a selection of my 5 favourite activities in the Peak District.

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Since finally getting off my backside, out of the pub and tying on a pair of running shoes several years ago, I have changed. A lot. From not being able to run a few miles to running marathons. From never having tied onto a climbing rope to leading steep ice climbs at high altitude. And from working for the man to starting two new businesses and venturing out into the incredible world of technology and startups.

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People often ask what it is about climbing and mountaineering that I enjoy. What is it that motivates me? What is it that makes me spend the majority of my holidays tied to vertical walls, wading through snow, or shivering at a belay?

Sometimes it is the of impact being in these environments can have on me as a person, sometimes it is the sense of achievement of climbing something I didn’t think I could.

At the end of the day, though, it boils down to the simple joy of sharing new experiences.

With both new and old friends, filling my lungs with fresh air and just feeling like a kid again, playing in the great outdoors.

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Many of you people may know, last year was rather full on. I had invested everything in my second business, Goals for Giving, and it hadn’t worked out, you can read more about  that here. A month after closing my business,  I married an amazing and understanding woman, Sophie Radcliffe. I was completely burnt out leading up to the wedding and Sophie and I decided that we needed to have a proper break and focus on our future.

One of the key steps to my recovery was an inspiring and, dare I say it, life changing climb I completed that pushed both my physical and mental boundaries leaving me exhausted but liberated.

If this sounds a bit over the top then please let me try and explain.

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