She stopped drifting: Roz Savage.

She stopped drifting: Roz Savage.

In 2000 Roz Savage had the perfect life. At the age of 33 she was married, had a high earning job, a wardrobe full of designer clothes and enjoyed expensive overseas holidays. Yet inside something was missing. "Every day I would sit on the commuter train on the way to work wondering if this was what life was all about. I wasn't happy. I wasn't fulfilled. I wasn't being true to my values."

British-born Savage undertook a life-changing exercise, writing two versions of her own obituary. "The one I wanted, and the one I was heading for if I carried on as I was. They were very different, and I realised then I was going to have to make some big changes if I wanted to end up with the kind of life I could be proud of, with no regrets for the life that could have been.

"Until that point I'd been very materialistic. I'd grown up in a poor family and as a reaction against that I wanted to have the big house and all the stuff to put in it. But when I did that obituary exercise I realised that actually the material stuff wasn't going to make me happy, that what I really wanted to do was to push my limits and hopefully leave the world a slightly better place."

Roz Savage rowing across the Pacific from San Francisco to Honolulu.

Roz Savage rowing across the Pacific from San Francisco to Honolulu.

Savage packed a suitcase, left everything behind, including her husband and career and embarked on a dream to row alone across the Atlantic. In 2005 she met that challenge and became the first woman to complete the Atlantic Rowing Race - solo. She had spent 103 days alone at sea, rowing an average of 12 hours a day to achieve her goal.

Today she holds four Guinness World Records for ocean rowing, including the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. She has rowed over 15,000 miles, taken around 5 million oar strokes, and spent more than 500 days at sea in a 23-foot rowboat. In 2010 she was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic.

While many of us might relate to Savage's story, could we find the inspiration to make such bold changes in our own lives? Savage believes anyone can achieve the extraordinary.

Roz Savage.

Roz Savage.

"I think people are really looking for inspiration, that they want to believe that it's possible to realise your dreams. I didn't deliberately set out to be inspiring, I just found something that I passionately wanted to do, for a greater cause, and that sense of purpose helped me to overcome my fears and step up to the challenge. There's really nothing exceptional about me, other than the fact that when I put my mind to something, I just won't give up."

In her new book, Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific, published later this year, she writes about her experiences rowing solo across the world's biggest ocean. What lessons did she learn doing that?

"I found out that there is no challenge so big that you can't achieve it if you just take it one oar stroke at a time. It took me about 2.5 million oar strokes to cross the Pacific, and every single one of those oar strokes counted. So whether we're talking about personal challenges or environmental challenges, I keep reminding myself that all those tiny actions add up to big steps in the right direction."

Her message is clear - to get the life you want you need to step outside your comfort zone.

"If you don't keep expanding your comfort zone, your comfort zone actually gets smaller and smaller, until you're shrink-wrapped in such a tiny comfort zone that you can't move, you can't achieve anything, you can't grow."

Savage says she is happy now to have retired from ocean rowing. "I'd done all I set out to do, and I think three oceans is more than enough for anybody." She sees her next challenge as a sustainability advocate and environmental campaigner having witnessed widespread pollution on her travels.

"I rowed around the outskirts of the North Pacific 'garbage patch' and saw plastic pollution thousands of miles from land," she says. "I was on the ocean when the Gulf Oil Spill happened half a world away, and as I looked over the side of the boat at the fish that usually hung out under my hull, I felt like apologising to them for the horrible mess we're making of their home.

"We've got to start taking better care of the Earth because on a finite world, what goes around comes around, and increasingly it's not just the wildlife but ourselves that we're poisoning."

Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman's Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific is published on October 15.