Stop us if you’re heard this one before. The alarm goes off every morning around the same time. You stir, bleary eyed, and pray that you just forgot to set the bastard device to ‘weekdays only’. Slowly the realisation descends – it’s not Saturday, or Sunday, and you do indeed have to get out of bed.
Dazed, but no longer confused, you move one foot in front of the other and grab a towel. Walking across the hall to the bathroom and thoughts of a sick day cross your mind, before remembering that deadline, that meeting, or simply the fact that there are no more sick days left to take.
You know what lies ahead, and it reads like this: uncomfortable commute through rush hour traffic/packed public transport, eight hours spent making more money for someone else than yourself, followed by a reverse journey through equally stressful conditions, and, if you’re lucky, a couple of hours down time absorbing the detritus of modern broadcasting before you finally get to go back to sleep.
Tomorrow the same will happen again. The day after, the same again.
Perhaps, though, it doesn’t actually have to be this way. Work shouldn’t necessarily represent the worst part of your waking conscious. In fact, for some people it’s actually the most pleasurable and pleasant aspect of their existence. The difference between these lucky souls and those still stuck in traffic on the No.42? Not much, aside from the willingness to take a few chances and treat their life like the ultimate adventure.
Introducing Henrik Jeppesen. A guy who we can all be jealous of, and someone who sets an example when it comes to following their dreams, and turning those into more than just a passion. What makes him so special?
At 29, Jeppesen, who originally hails from Denmark, lays claim to one rather astonishing achievement. He’s managed to visit every country on the planet, and, as if that wasn’t enough, he’s now attempting to set foot in every territory out there, too. Perhaps even more impressively, the plucky entrepreneur has turned travelling the world into a business all of his own, funding his ongoing excursions by way of partnerships with companies that share similar interests.
“I went to Egypt when I was 17, in 2006,” Jeppesen explains when we ask how this grand voyage began. “But I only set the goal of visiting every country in the world after reaching 100 countries.”
Needless to say, the press have long since picked up on his extended jaunt. It’s one thing to set off on a journey that has no real end date, though, and something very different indeed to do so and start to bring in some money in order to ensure that the final furlong – wherever that may be – is little more than a dot on a horizon that seems to be in perpetual retreat.
“I’m not sure,” he responds when asked how things began to take a more professional route. “I guess I saw the potential after visiting every country, getting in the media, and reaching 100,000 social media followers.”
Jeppesen now hosts his own travel blog - logically entitled henriktravel.com - and has garnered countless fans on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And this is the point at which a dream experience has become something of a dream job. The value of exposure through his channels cannot be undervalued for brands fighting for attention in the travel industry, a notoriously competitive marketplace.
“At the moment, I’m back in Denmark, but earlier this year I visited a lot of places like the unique South Georgia Island on a sponsored cruise. I fund it by making money and sponsorships when it makes sense. It is a lot of work and small things might not be worth it as time is money,” Jeppesen says.
All of which brings us to the ultimate question – how the hell can you follow in the sort of intrepid footsteps Jeppesen has left in ground across the world? Whether that’s making cash from travel, or some other interest or hobby you have long-since thought of as ‘what you want to do, but been too sheepish to take the plunge’.
“In my opinion, you have to make it your number one priority, as it takes a lot of time and effort to make it a success. To live as a traveller it is important to focus on cost-saving, as it is mainly how I managed to visit every country,” adds Jeppesen.
It sounds logical, and yet it’s a lot harder than many would first imagine. Whatever the pursuit, a combination of fatigue and fear can so easily set in once you set out on a path to a truly independent career. The first deal may present itself relatively quickly, but converting that into more - it’s difficult to prove that you have what it takes to go it alone and deliver what those paying or supporting the endeavour are expecting. Nevertheless, it’s not impossible, and will unarguably be wholly worthwhile once you get there.
We’re conditioned from an early age to believe that career paths are largely linear, and that we need to fall in line with what’s already there before finding a way to the front of any professional queue. But the world has changed beyond recognition in the last 20 years alone, with never-before-seen levels of accessibility to everything from communications to nations, not to mention a huge scope for disrupting the status quo and offering something that’s as unique as you are.
Put simply, then, find your niche, and work out why others can’t hope to provide what you can, then go for it. After all, there’s more to gain than lose in almost all situations.