Last week I had coffee with a friend. She ordered an almond croissant and we sat outside a little French shop in the heart of Soho. I knew that she had recently left her organisation, and as we chatted I asked her a question;
If you could do anything, if all of of your costs were covered, and you had to work… what would you do for the next year?
At first she stared at me. Then she smiled, then she laughed. “Do you know, THAT, is a really good question”.
It didn’t take long for her to begin describing her dream work. We talked more. We went our separate ways.
Almost exactly a week later, I turned on my phone to find a text.
Oli hi. We need to talk! Have news you around tomorrow am?
We spoke at 8am the following morning. She certainly had news. In fact she had a new office. In Soho. More importantly, she had decided exactly what her next adventure would be. Doing exactly the thing we had discussed over coffee and a croissant. As we spoke on that morning phone call, she said something very interesting to me;
“You asked me that question. And nobody had asked me that question for years.”
So reader, this got me thinking. I decided to ask people, using Twitter and Facebook the same question;
You have all costs covered for one year. You must work. What do you do?
I’ve been amazed, surprised and inspired by some of the answers. Here is a selection;
@corrozo Write and make films
@jake A fisherman or farmer in that order
@nedatutu I would probably set up a Neda Concierge business!
@rachel_james Work at a zoo without a doubt
@farhanlalji What I’m doing now, starting a company
@kouya Write books
@robwmay Photograph the nation’s homeless
@fbrownwork touring creative enterprise and design innovation around US colleges. Road trip!
@EmmsieLu Bake cakes, paint pictures, design websites and branding for start ups, work in a charity
@Matlock organise conferences about storytelling. take pictures, blog more
@LloydDavis Create the ‘thing’ that #Tuttle2Texas was a prototype for; blog more; play more (serious work play!)
@Groob Exactly what I’m doing now (just maybe from a Covent Garden penthouse).
@LouiseWiseman Write and act, maybe do a spot of garden design on the side, if I have time!!
@evarley Throw myself into starting all of the projects I have on the backburner without having to worry about how I’ll pay the rent
@oli Live in the sunshine and play and record some outstanding music
@RichMulholland I’d write a book
@ArrivalEd Do everything you think you can’t or isn’t possible
On Facebook, friends shared answers to the same question, which included…
“I think the same as now. Is that weird? I love my life and wouldn’t change it for the world”
“Write a book on how you did it and what you did now you got there”
“Set up a cool new project for your local teenagers”
“I’d pay it forward”
“Become a courtesan”
“Do what I’m doing now, trying to raise money for the forthcoming production in September of a new play by a 91 year old playwright who influenced the Pythons, Goodies and just about any absurdist comedian you can think of; but without the crappy, low paid itinerant work squeezed around it. You did ask.”
“Exactly the same as I’m doing now. But I’d probably fill my panini sticker album quicker”
So many answers, and as you might expect, so many times when you think how amazing the person answering would be at their dream work, if only they could start it right now.
Inevitably, this has got me thinking about the same question. What would my own answer be?
Although broadly speaking I love what I do, it has reminded me of some things. Things I’ve not really spoken about properly for years. I have a passion for writing songs. Composing them on a beautiful Yahama piano would be a dream for me. I want to travel more, and to spend more time hosting fantastic events around the world, bringing very different types of people together. I want to work in TV and radio, maybe presenting, maybe producing. Making programmes not about politics, not about the doom and gloom, but about incredible people doing great things, all over the world. Meeting, them, interviewing them and hopefully helping them in some way. Perhaps this is my croissant moment.
Strangely, reading those replies, and writing this post, it hits me that what I’d also like to do is help people to do the one thing they would love to do. Not in an advisory way – I wouldn’t know what to say- but in a practical way, by connecting them with people. I’m going to add that to my own answer. Hopefully someone reading this will be receiving a text message, from me, in a week from now.