10 signs you’re ready to be Location Free (a Digital Nomad)
As many of you reading will know, I have recently made a big change to my life, leaving my job, packing up my things and moving to Bali.
I wrote a blog about this, not really for people to read, but sort of for myself so that if someone asked why I’d made this big change, I’d have solid answers (maybe my corporate job/law degree making me feel I need to justify my decisions!).
I have had the most overwhelming amount of messages from people saying they want to do it, they’re doing it, they wish they could do it or they wish they’d done it. From people I went to school with when I was 11, to senior people at previous companies I’ve worked at or just my best friends. I’ve realised that there are so many people who are doing what they ‘think’ they should be doing, not what they actually want to do, whether that’s travel, become a nutritionist, or train to be a chef.
I honestly believe everyone’s path is completely different and the most important thing is working out what’s right for you. For me, that is being a digital nomad, travelling the world, meeting people, learning skills and working for myself to build a future that excites me everyday.
So, I’ve decided to write a list of 10 signs which show that being a digital nomad may also be for you. This is obviously my experience and my opinion, so take it with a pinch of salt (never liked that phrase) but I hope you read something in here which helps or inspires you.
As always, keep the messages coming – absolutely love reading and replying to them
1) You want a change of lifestyle
For me, this is the best place to start. Once you get on that plane you no longer have the lifestyle you had before. You are free from obligation, you don’t have a commute, you don’t see your friends every weekend and you don’t eat the same food. Life is completely different.
Do you ever think, when you’re rammed against the door on the Northern line or sitting in traffic on the M25, there must be more to life? You’re bored of the status quo? This may be the first sign that being a digital nomad is for you, you know there is more to life and you want to go and find it.
You may find that this feeling pretty much makes your decision for you, in which case you can exit the browser, go back to scrolling and book your flight. Life is too short, and if you’re having this inkling now, it isn’t likely it isn’t going to go away. Maybe, you’re sick of that work for 6 months, holiday for 2 weeks, get drunk on the weekend and hate Mondays more than bikini waxes. You want more than squeezing the gym in before work, eating salad for every meal, just to ruin it all at the weekend with a pizza and way too much Prosecco. You want to create a story which is different from everyone else and you want a life that excites you and is flexible. Download or buy or listen to Tim Ferris’ book ‘The 4 Hour Work Week’, the principles in it are applicable to everyone, no matter where you are in your life, wanting to be a digital nomad or not. His concept of ‘Lifestyle design’ is important for Every. Single. Person. Once you’ve done that, read on…
2) You want to travel
Ok so, the term ‘digital nomad’ doesn’t actually say in the title that you HAVE to travel, it just really means that you work online and don’t need to be based in one location for to earn a living. So technically, you could be a digital nomad and stay right where you are and just have more flexibility for holidays, nail appointments and lunches out.
So, travelling isn’t a requirement, you may have things which mean you need to stay at home, which is absolutely fine, the concept and process is still the same. HOWEVER, most digital nomads do travel, because they want to for a variety of reasons. Maybe you want to learn a language, maybe you just love the sun, maybe it’s the food, maybe it’s all of these reasons. One of the main reasons digital nomads do travel, however, is because of the financial advantages.
Quitting your job, no matter what your plan is, is riskier than staying in it (financially, not emotionally) so it makes sense to go somewhere where you can live for less and have a high quality of life while doing it. Let me tell you, £3 delicious salads and £4 reflexology makes it a LOT easier to work than if I was sat in my bedroom in England while Millie (my dog) barks at every passer by and eating a crap stir fry because I want to be healthy but I ceebs to get creative. So it may be that what works for you, and actually maybe for me, is to travel for the first part of you journey and then, once you’re financially stable, return home with all my your skills, new job and life experiences. Travelling also enables you to visit people you know around the world and to get visited by your friends, which is totally a win win because they get a free place to stay and you get a holiday with a pal. So maybe you travel forever, or maybe you don’t, it’s TOTALLY up to you.
3) You’re a people person, or actually, you’re not
Being a digital nomad encourages you to meet people. New people to work with, or for. New friends in coffee shops, pool bars and hostels and the opportunity to join a global network of people doing what you’re doing (there are online memberships and countless Facebook and WhatsApp groups). However, you don’t have to be a super outgoing people person to be a digital nomad. Actually, if you think about it, it lends itself to those who are the opposite of this. You spend a lot of time alone and work from a Laptop so actually, not being a people person works too. However if meeting lots of different people, doing lots of different things excites you then digital nomad-ing may be your bag. You can grow a global network of friends and future work contacts almost instantly because it’s much easier to meet people when you’re travelling then at home as walking up to someone and saying hi shows you’re a nice person, not a creep.
4) You have the right attitude
Number 4 is, in my opinion, actually the most important, although not the sexiest. Packing up your life and going abroad is really not the easy option. It’s quite a big deal, and without the right attitude you’re going to struggle. You need to be a combination of so many different things, a dreamer and a do-er, realistic and idealistic, logical and creative. If you’re going to work for yourself and find work online, or in person, you need to have pretty much every ‘skill-you-talk-about-having-in-every-job-interview-you’ve-had’ (don’t know what you call these). You need to be self motivated, be disciplined, be productive, be organised, be flexible, be quick at making decisions but also ensure they’re well thought through, have good communication skills, enjoy research, be able to market yourself and know your worth, have thick skin, be ready to accept failure, be able to budget, be positive, be good at time management, be able to cope with uncertainty…the list goes on. It is going to be hard work at the beginning, it’s going to overwhelming and it’s going to be scary at times, it is 100% worth it but it’s not easy, and being prepared is important. You will learn to be adaptable to change and have experienced more new and different challenges than ever before. You need to be pretty sure that this is what you want to do because you have to make sacrifices, you need to save money before you go, so however you do this – I moved home to live with Mummy and Daddy (which actually wasn’t a sacrifice because I’d happily live there forever), Maybe you cut down on going out, maybe you sell stuff, maybe you get another job on the side. Whatever it is, it may not be a particularly glamorous lead up to going away, but your excitement and passion for what you’re doing needs to, and most likely will, outweigh the sacrifice.
5) You have the right skills, or you plan to learn them
Possibly the bit you’re waiting for, ‘so Hannah, what do you actually do? And what am I going to do?’. Digital nomad-ing is, as the name suggests, quite simply, making money online in the ‘digital’ world. There are a lot of different ways of doing this, however there are also a lot of people who’ve done it, who shout about how easy it is with their ‘take my $99 course and earn $10,000 in 30 seconds’. Be careful of this, there are some brilliant courses to do and there are lots I really recommend but if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
It is very likely to have more skills than you realise, just by being a ‘digital native’ or ‘millennial’ you already have a pretty good grasp on how the online world works. If you don’t believe me, ask someone older than you who owns a business what they’re social media marketing strategy is, or something along those lines. You don’t have to be super techy, or do digital marketing or blogging, there are lots of different jobs. Maybe you loved Art at school and could train to be a graphic designer, maybe you’re awesome at research and could work as market researcher, maybe you love writing and could become a freelance writer. Take a look here and here at some different ways you can make money. and also have a look at the online job markets for freelancers (for example, Upwork) and see what skills are in demand, avoid picking something which people don’t want to pay for, your making your life a lot tougher if you do. Work out what you’ve done, what you’re doing and what you like and combine that to build yourself a new career. Remember, your previous experience is completely unique so use that to your advantage. Once you have an idea of what you’re going to do, work to become even better at that. Read, do courses, do some work for free to build your portfolio. You will need to market yourself so make sure you can back yourself enough to get work. Simple googling can find so many brilliant free, and paid courses to develop or just certify the skills you already have. Don’t let the fact you ‘think’ you don’t have the right skills stop you, because if you’re motivated you can find them. It’s only you stopping yourself.
6) You want to work for yourself
Long live output driven, productive ‘smart work’ and say goodbye to the 9-5, 9-6, 8-7, 4-12 or whatever your current work schedule is. When you’re a digital nomad, you work for yourself. You have your own clients and you work the hours you want to work. You don’t have an office you have to go to, or an instant messaging service you have to be online all day. In a recent survey, 92% of all questioned digital nomads said, that they are happier since they are less tied to a physical workplace. You are completely free. Obviously there are going to be jobs which require you to work certain hours, maybe if you’re a translator or a coach but usually you can define these hours. You no longer work in a stressful environment where you constantly wonder if you’re working hard enough, or long enough hours. You don’t have to commute, you don’t have to ask for days off, you don’t have to do work you don’t want to do (I mean you do a bit, particularly at the beginning but at least you can only hate yourself for taking it then your boss). Depending on the life you want to live and the salary you want to have, you can work as much or as little as possible. Maybe this month you’re happy living frugally and just working 15 hours a week, at £15 an hour. Maybe next month you want to fly somewhere new, or by a new laptop, so you work more hours. You can design a lifestyle you want. It takes time, it takes a bit of trial and error, but it is totally possible. A lot of digital nomads work part time, enough to cover the bills, and use their other time to grow their own business, blog or whatever it is they want to do.
You may be thinking, ‘my god Hannah, that sounds lonely, I’ll go insane’. Well, yes, there are times when you work alone and do end up talking to yourself on the toilet but fortunately the world is moving with the times and there are amazing co-working spaces popping up ALL OVER THE WORLD. Choose somewhere in the world where there is a community of digital nomads, find a co-working space, and work there. There are so many people typing away on MacBooks, chatting over coffee and running events that you won’t have time to feel lonely and there won’t be time to have a chat to yourself while doing a wee.
7) You’re keen on self development
Often seen as indulgent, self development is actually just ‘the process by which a person’s character or abilities are gradually developed.’ This could take form in may different ways, maybe you want to start new hobbies, learn how to meditate, or just work out what you actually want out of life. Whatever it may be, digital nomad-ing enables you to have the space and freedom to explore this. Reading, writing, taking classes are just some of the ways you can develop yourself. Self development is a lifelong process so it doesn’t mean just because you’ve become a digital nomad you’re going to become totally transformed and enlightened, however being away from traditional society definitely gives you the space to start your journey. Often the best, and easiest way, to start is to buy some books or download some audiobooks. Books such as The Power of Now and the Monk who sold his Ferrari have shown popular to kick your journey off.
8) You want to be healthier, happier and free-er (not sure this is a word?)
Less time working, or at least a more flexible working schedule means more time to focus on your health. Midday gym classes and creative recipes become a possibility for you. Maybe you want to train to run a marathon or go on a 3 day detox. Running your own life enables all of this. For me, being in Bali for a my first few weeks has meant I can focus a huge amount on my health. Gymming whenever I want, walking around the beautiful rice terraces and drinking green juices for a couple of pounds is just a few of the ways I’ve been focusing on my health.
Aside from the place you’re in, it’s also a lot to do with the place you’re not. It’s hard to be as healthy as you want when living in a large city. Work hard, play harder is not just a phrase, it’s a way of life. There is less time for the gym, yoga and vegetables and more time for a quick sandwich before 5 gin and tonics and a few beers. Maybe you have incredible will power and can avoid all of this, but for the majority it’s not easy.
9) You want to build a future which excites you
Once you become a digital nomad you realise how much there is out there. You meet inspiring people who are breaking or have broken out of the status quo and are running businesses and doing what they really want to do, and earning good money for it. Use your time as a digital nomad, whether it’s for 6 months, a year or 5 years to build your future. Being able to work flexibly means you can have time to learn and create. You might start a business with a friend or become an expert in a field which can lead to speaking events or book writing. The options really are, unlimited, it’s just giving yourself the ability and space to find them. It’s possible that you can do these things while working for 9-6 job but I know I couldn’t whereas now I’m excited every morning by that day and the day which follows.
10) You’re ready
We’re sort of back the beginning here. You’ve read this blog and thought, yep, I’ve done that, or I’m ready for that. So if that’s true, don’t put it off anymore. I’m not suggesting you quit tomorrow and fly next month, but start planning your move. Start putting money aside, start working on your skills, work out where you want to go, what you want to do and get excited! This is just the beginning, the possibilities are just starting.