Dave Cornthwaite sacked in his London job and a comfortable lifestyle to choose a life less ordinary. So far his new journey has taken him skateboarding around Australia, paddling, kayaking, swimming – all over 1,000 miles, staying awake for 72 hours and taking 1,000 photos of himself for 1,000 days. And perhaps most importantly he’s met some amazing people along the way. We caught up with him to see where his new path has taken him.
1. Can you give us a little background into how you got where you are today?
Sure! I woke up on my 25th birthday and realised that while on paper I had everything a successful modern-day adult is supposed to have, I was also passively depressed. I was horrible at my job and my relationship was stale and I wanted to be excited on Mondays, so I opened up to opportunities and the first one that came along was, wait for it, a long skateboard. Two weeks later I quit my job and skateboarded across Australia, breaking a couple of world records and getting a book deal at the end of it all. After that I didn’t look back, said yes to a lot of things and worked out who I really was and what I wanted to do. These days I’m an adventurer, an author and a motivational speaker, a long haul from those Playstation-playing days on my sofa-sized beanbag.
2. Have you always sought out adventure or at what point did you make a conscious decision to do so?
I’m the most cautious person you’ll meet and the main difference between me now, and me back then, is that now I’ll actively seek out things that scare me and then I’ll face them, because I know that the experience will make me stronger. It’s so easy to stop living because of fears, or the expectation and pressure from others.
3. You’ve undertaken some pretty amazing expeditions. What has been your favourite challenge so far?
I have this project called Expedition1000, to take on 25 journeys of 1000 miles or more, each using a different form of transport. So far I’ve done eight of these challenges and I think my favourite was stand up paddling the length of the Mississippi River.
4. During your challenges, have there been any times where you’ve wanted to give up? What has been the toughest setback you’ve encountered?
There are moments when things get tough and you hit the proverbial wall, but I don’t take on challenges unless I really want to, and knowing that reaching the end is absolutely worth it gets me through the hard bits. Usually a good sleep will have me feeling more positive and ready to plough on.
5. We hear you’re in the process of deciding your next challenge … any hints on what it will be?
Well, I’m still deciding, but I have 17 more journeys of over 1000 miles to take on. I’m looking at windsurfing, canoeing, roller blading and riding a wind powered recumbent tricycle called a Whike. So many options. In the meantime I’m writing my fourth book and have an ongoing project called 50 Ways to Make £50, which has so far seen me be a bootcamp instructor, a magazine distributor and a zookeeper.
6. What advice would you give to some stuck in an unsatisfying day job?
If you feel that you’re in a job that isn’t satisfying you, you’re never stuck however much it feels like it. We’re all capable of making a living doing something we love and once you’re doing that life feels effortless most of the time. Start looking and believing in something better, it’ll come along…
7. What would be your one tip in helping them escape?
Stop moping and start acting. Nobody else is going to make the change for you. Living more simply and spending less takes the pressure off – that way you don’t have to earn so much money doing something you don’t enjoy. Start now with one little change, and go and make the most of life. It’s bloomin’ miserable if you don’t.
I’ve just finished a project called EveryMomentCounts. Check out this video and just think what your last 1000 days have looked like. Now, go make the next 1000 even cooler!
8. What are the top 5 essential pieces of kit that have helped you through your journeys?
My Macbook Pro is my portable office. I keep all of my belongings in a 90l drybag made by Aquapac, so life is pretty portable and waterproof thanks to them! I share my journeys with an iPhone, sleep in a Hammock Bliss Sky Tent (waterproof hammock), and, if I can stretch the question a bit, my most important bit of ‘kit’ is a positive attitude. I like people, I like saying yes, and it takes me places.
Kit is better when it’s dirty
To test out Dave “Yes More” motto, we asked him a few quick questions…
1. Would you eat 100 bananas while balanced on a unicycle?
Now this wouldn’t take much time, and it would be quite funny. Plus, once I’d learned to unicycle I’d be able to take one 1000 miles, so YES!
2. Would say yes to walking backwards for 1000miles?
Probably not! My motto is Say Yes More, not Say Yes to Everything, so I only consider doing things that are going to be fun.
3. Would you give £50 to a stranger?
It depends on the stranger, but I’ve done this before, yes.
4. Would say you are happy?
I’ve never been happier.