Inspirational Woman: Paula Reid | Business Woman, Author and Adventurer

I am a business woman, author and adventurer. I am a Chair with the Academy for Chief Executives, I own a company called Velocity Made Good and I specialise in igniting, inspiring and empowering business people to achieve.

I am just finishing a Master’s Degree (MSc) in positive psychology – my Dissertation aims to launch “Adventure Psychology” as a new discipline.

I have written four books and delivered a TEDx talk on the Stretch Zone.

I believe in Living Life to the Full and I have achieved 117 things (so far!) on my ‘bucket list’.

I am an adventurer. I am the 3rd British Woman to ski full distance to the South Pole (Messner Route), I was core crew on the Global Challenge round-the-world yacht race, I am a mountaineer, I have paddled the Mekong, the Thames, run the marathon, walked across England, Scotland and Ireland…

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No. I drive myself though; set goals, have ambitions, but remain open to opportunity. I have achieved more than I had hoped and I think if I had planned, I may have planned for less. Being driven yet open to opportunity seems to have worked for me. I also intertwine my business life with my adventure life – and also mash them together where I can, so I do logistics very well, but not that much planning.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Both yacht racing around the world and skiing to the South Pole were equally challenging and huge achievements, for slightly different reasons. The Global Challenge was a ten-month yacht race, around the world Westwards, around Cape Horn and into the Southern Ocean. I hadn’t sailed much before. The environment was dangerous and dynamic. We had to undertake two medivacs on one leg of the race from Buenos Aires to Wellington… it was extremely dangerous, tough and scary with very little sailing experience, and yet I did it.

The ski full distance to the South Pole was relentlessly challenging, gruelling and strenuous. We skied 12 hours a day for 46 days from the Coast of Antarctica to the South Pole – around 1000km. This included skiing 3300m uphill, into the wind, pulling a sledge of 80 kg in -40 degrees. I also got ‘Polar Thigh’ on both my legs which was an extremely painful and debilitating condition, and yet I did it.

‘Pain in Temporary, Pride is Forever’ and ‘Choose your Attitude’ were written on my skis. I still believe in these two mindsets.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I am now on my ’50 Good Turns’ challenge – cycling across all 50 countries of Europe and going one good deed in each country.

Please feel free to add other questions and answers to the interview piece this is for guide purposes only.

You talk about having a ‘Bucket List’ – what is a Bucket List?

A list of all the goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to fulfil, and life experiences you desire to experience before you ‘kick the bucket’. I call it something more positive – my ‘Live Life to the Full’ list.

Why create one?

Because when you know exactly what you want to achieve, it’s much more likely that you’ll actually achieve it. Have you ever felt like time is passing by and you’re just getting caught up in the flurry of day-to-day life and not actually doing the things you want to do, achieving the things you want to achieve and going to the places you really want to go to? If so, it’s time to sit down and write your list.

Life is short, so make the most of it – get out there and do amazing things, live the life you dream of and start it today.

I have done 117 ‘things’ that I most wanted to do before I die and I’m nowhere near being dead. I have another 46 on my list, but the list grows all the time. Some are little things, some are massive… some are quite mundane, and some are rather unusual. But they help me to breathe and feel alive. And they help me to know that when I am drawing my last breath, it will be with no regrets.

When did you start to write your first list?

I started to rebel and break the rules when I was 13, pushing the limits of conventional living growing up in a leafy Surrey suburb. From the age of 17 I reviewed each calendar year and wrote a list of all the things I had done in the last 12 months. That list got more and more interesting and I used to look back on it and remember amazing moments in my life which spurred me on to capture it in a definite ‘bucket list’ years later.

I was always aware that I had a list in my head, but when I decided to capture it, it made it more definite and gave me focus to strive for it.

What made you decide to write a list?

I believe in living life to the full, I don’t want to be on my deathbed thinking, ‘I wish I’d done this or I wish I’d done that’. I want to know that I’ve actually had a go at doing the things I want to do.

I get a perverse enjoyment from challenging myself and experiencing new things – doing wonderful, exciting, stimulating, difficult and fun adventures.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever ticked off your bucket list?

I think one of the best things I’ve ever ticked off my list in the ‘awesome moment category’ was swimming with dolphins and seals. But one of my best memories was the World Bog Snorkeling Championships – where I came first in the fancy dress category dressed as a ‘Clapham Water Dragon’ – the whole weekend was such a ball! Paddling the Mekong was very cool… they’re all uniquely great experiences for different reasons.

How do you manage to fit your adventures around work?

I freelance for work, so I have time to fit in long and short activities and adventures. One was bog snorkeling in Wales and that was just a fun, long weekend. I’ve also sailed around the world and that took 10 months, so it depends on the length of the adventure, but I fit it around my self-employment. Although I had to quit my full-time job to sail around the world, having had that experience has made me more employable.

I think for people who do have full time jobs, get that list written first and just see what’s on there, so you know exactly what you’re aiming for and it gives you focus and determination. And then you can easily tick things off at weekends and on holidays. They don’t all take up loads of time or money. Do lots of mini adventures. And then if there’s a massive one to do, that would hugely enhance your life – like sailing around the world –  then just do it. No regrets. You can always get a job when you get back and you’ll never regret going on such an amazing adventure.

How does having a Live Life list help you?

I think a stretchy list can help you personally and professionally. Professionally you can have work goals on your list, so for instance I have written four books and they have definitely enhanced my professional life. Having a professional bucket list will help you to aspire to a career you want. And personally it helps to fulfill you and make your life more interesting. When my mum goes to her art classes – everyone always asks her what her daughter’s been up to this time! And if you can rope some of your friends or family in to doing some adventures then it may enhance their lives too.

Why the Global Challenge?

It is easy to say ‘I’m going to do X’ or “I can’t do X because…” The hardest part is to take that step to do it. Before I signed up to do the Global Challenge, these were some of my “I can’t because…” excuses:

  • I have a full time job which I love and I am very lucky to have it (I left my job)
  • I am a shareholder and I will have to sell my shares and quit the company (I sold my shares)
  • It will damage my long term career (It improved my career)
  • I own a flat in London (I rented it out)
  • I can’t afford £30,000 plus lose a year’s salary (I make more money now)
  • I could do so much more with £30,000 (It was money well spent)
  • I need to save money for my pension / mortgage / cost of living (Life’s for living)
  • I can’t go away for a year! (I can)
  • I can’t sail (I can learn)
  • I get sea sick (So what?)
  • I’m not sure I will enjoy it / it sounds pretty scary (Scary = exciting)
  • My mum will kill me! etc (No she won’t)

Yes. All good reasons not to do something. You only live once and then you are a long time dead.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

No regrets.

Like many people, I was interested in taking part, for all sorts of reasons, but then I actually made it happen. It was a ballsy decision, a huge challenge, a fantastic opportunity, and I went for it.

People should use their gut feel and their hearts (not just their heads) for making big personal (potentially life-changing) decisions.

  1. Take some time out to remember and write down a list of all the things you HAVE done. Be proud of these
  2. Brainstorm all the things you WANT to do and places you WANT to visit – WRITE them down
  3. Review the List every now and again. Depending on time, money and logistics, which one will you make happen next? Choose one
  4. Take a big, positive step towards making it happen
  5. Stay positive. No excuses (you may call these ‘reasons’), no buts, no “I can’t because…”
  6. Don’t Limit Yourself with Negative Labels
  7. Choose your Attitude
  8. 100% Commitment. No half-heartedness. If you are going to do something, then do it, to the best of your ability, and with your whole heart, body, mind and soul. Raise your game
  9. Do it.
  10. Continue to update both lists. Celebrate successes, tick them off

By doing this you will be living life to the full and will have no regrets when you die ; )

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