10 things I learnt in my first 2 weeks as a Digital Nomad
Firstly, thank you so much for reading my blog. I am completely overwhelmed and SO excited by the success of my previous blog ‘Why I chose to quit my job, pack up my life and move to Bali’ which gained over 8,000 views on my site and 9,000 views on Linkedin in just 3 days! I actually couldn’t believe it as I watched the views rack up and the comments come in so thank you thank you thank you.
As I come to the end of my second week in Bali I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve actually learnt so far on my journey and thought I’d share it with you with some real and honest advice in the hope of showing you that you can do it too! I’ve also ‘peppered’ it with motivational quotes cos I’m cute like that.
1) It’s easy to get overwhelmed, stay calm and keep a list of your achievements
As I packed my room up, handed in my notice and kissed as many people goodbye as possible I felt very relaxed that ‘I’d work it all out where I arrived’. This is, of course, true, because of course I would. However when I actually woke up on my first day I suddenly felt really overwhelmed, literally, where do I start? How am I going to do this? I went a bit manic my first few days, starting reading one thing, then moving to something else, never really finishing anything or getting any real value from what I was reading. As the days went on I calmed down a bit, had a massage (or 20) and broke down what I wanted to do into chunks, in about 20 lists, working out what I wanted to achieve each day, sort of like when you’re revising for exams and you work out which module you’re going to do each day to make sure you’ve done it all by exam day (ew, just got reminded of my Law degree). I started to write down a list of my achievements, what I had achieved, rather than what I hadn’t, some big, some small, for example, I started the Google Digital Academy Marketing course to gain an accreditation in the skills I already had, I started networking, signed up to Freelance sites and I joined the gym (and more importantly, went). I found this a really valuable way to keep myself calm as when you start googling, the amount of information (and ADVICE) can just be too much.
2) There are SO many online resources and people doing exactly what you’re doing
When you start googling, searching on Pinterest and following people on Instagram you realise how many people are actually doing this. Moving abroad, starting a blog, trading blockchain, selling their skills, building businesses. It’s a big comfort to know that you’re not alone and that what you’re trying to achieve is possible and you haven’t ruined your life by quitting your really good, well paid job, and moving to a country where you don’t know anyone. However take it with a pinch of salt, it’s your journey. It’s so easy to start comparing yourself. ‘Should I do this?’ ‘Should I be doing that?’ ‘Omg I’m doing it all wrong.’ I found that finding a few people I really admire, not because they take good Instagram pictures, but because they have built a living by being themselves and doing what they love, I read their advice, and follow a bit of advice from each person. There is only one you, so there is only one person who is going to do exactly what you’re going to do, best way to start is to just get on with it. Write something, sell something, take a photo, just do something.
3) Once you’ve actually arrived, you will actually just ‘get on with it’
Following on from the previous two points, you might be thinking, yeah but how do I ‘just do it’? That’s so much easier said than done Hannah you idealistic arse. I definitely felt this too, I was worried that once I arrived in Bali, I’d actually really struggle to work as hard as I knew I’d need to do be successful, I’d get caught up in handsome men, sunbathing (actually I hate sunbathing), reading, meeting people, classic ‘travel’ stuff and not actually have any discipline. In fact the opposite was true, the above was not what I wanted to do at all, what I wanted to do was do SOMETHING that meant I could do what I’m doing for as long as possible. A few times I’d be like, f*** it, I just want to go for a massage and lay by the pool, and then I’d do these things and then think, this is so great, I need this forever, shi*t, I better do some work so I can make sure that happens. Also, the best part of all this, is you can literally ‘work’ by the pool, read, write, plan, think. My new thing is listening to audio books while I’m getting foot massages (I know, I’m an inspiration). One more thing, when you start seeing your bank balance decrease, and you know that there isn’t going to be a pay check coming in at the end of the month, you REALLY want to work. Nothing is more motivating then imagining being broke, returning to England as a failure and applying for jobs not as good as the one I actually had (god that’s a depressing sentence).
4) F*** the haters and focus on the lovers
Obviously, when you do anything outside of the norm, you are going to get people criticising you. There is not one person who has put their head above the crowd and done something different who hasn’t dealt with a few arseholes, but as they say ‘there are no statues to the critics’ (thank you Mummy for teaching me that one). I started reading Tim Ferris ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’ (in fact its my reflexology audiobook, I’m not reading it, I’m listening to it, don’t know why I lied). He starts the book with a quote from Mark Twain which goes as follows ‘Whenever you find yourself on the site of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect’. Ooffft, I love that, so yes, be proud of yourself for doing something different and when you get comments, or someone takes the piss, ignore it, internally sass them and move on and when someone says something nice, save it, screenshot it, make a file on your computer, just do something. In my training in my first week at Accenture my faculty, a guy called Henry, told us to make a file in our Outlook called ‘nice things’ and put any and all positive comments and good feedback into it, and if you ever feel rubbish at your job or your life, read it. This is the only thing I took with my when I left Accenture (apart from all my knowledge and loads of mates obv). There will also be people, who, forgive me, are often a fair bit older than you, who will offer you advice. Read it all, but take it with a pinch of salt, some of it will be awesome but some can be, quite frankly, annoying. Baz Luhrmann in that awesome Youtube video ‘Wear Sunscreen’ (which is available on Spotify – get it now!) says advice is ‘a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth’. I’m not saying all advice is this at all, but it’s worth bearing on mind because it’s likely you’ll get a lot.
5) There will be ups and downs
Obviously when you go to any foreign country you are super excited (especially if you live in England and you see the sun once every 100 years and then burn in it because you lie in your garden naked as a baby. Just me? Ok cool). There will be loads and loads of ‘ups’ however no ups without downs, so be prepared for this. I, in fact, was a bit over prepared to feel down and surprisingly haven’t had too many down moments because the excitement of the possible is just too much for me (and I’m getting pretty tanned) but it’s definitely worth preparing for it. You will get jet lagged if you’re going far away, you might get ill, hey Bali belly (please don’t picture me on the toilet) (did that on purpose. LOL) and you will miss your family and friends, and your doggie, if you have one, if you don’t, well, get one.
So… my solution here is, if you’re going to take the leap and go away and become a ‘digital nomad’ go somewhere you know. I have been to Bali 3 times before this trip so there is a huge sense of familiarity when I’m here. Learn a bit of the language so you can chat with the locals (I literally mean hello, thank you etc), you get way more smiles if you at least try and smiles are good for the soul. Book somewhere nice for your first couple of weeks, I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit over the whole hostel thing since I listened to this boy fart all night and knew I was literally eating his poo particles, but I am happy to stay somewhere cheap and cheerful if it means I can be away for longer. However, for your first few weeks, while you get settled, choose somewhere nice where you can have a warm shower and a good sleep. Pack some home comforts! My parents got me a cuddly westie called Angus for Christmas and my two best friends bought me this little light which looks like a book, it’s so nice having things that remind you of home, I deff recommend taking a teddy because it’s so nice having something to cuddle (and talk to when you’re really losing it). Oh and take tea bags, I will never forgive myself for not packing Twinings Earl Grey. Literally never. Make a motivational playlist, I highly recommend The Greatest Showman Soundtrack and songs like ’On Top of the World’ but Imagine Dragons and ‘I Lived’ by One Republic, then dance around your room and strut down the street like you’re in Little Mix, this will lift your spirits if you’re feeling a bit poo, I PROMISE.
6) Do your best to avoid distractions
Your Facebook feed, Netflix (which doesn’t work in Bali…who knew!) and chatting to your friends are all great things to do (apart from your Facebook feed, you do not need to watch another cake being made or a cat climbing up something) but they are seriously distracting you from what you should and could be doing, and enjoying. This is why I chose to come to Ubud for my first month away. Ubud is the yogi, healthy, zen capital of Bali (and maybe the world…?). It’s full of people on health kicks, exercising and typing away on their MacBooks in edgy coffee shops (I’m doing this right now, how cool am I!). Although there may still be things to distract me, the general ‘vibe’ here enables you to focus on what you want to do, it’s not a busy city with loads of clubs, bars and people dragging you out for jaeger bombs. Also, and this is a controversial one, I recommend avoiding the booze for a bit when you arrive. Alcohol is such a depressant and when you’re on your own and can’t be needy and order your favourite Deliveroo order, you may find yourself feeling a bit sad. Treat your first few weeks as a detox and think HOW good that G&T will taste when you’ve made some serious strides towards the new you… and you’ll prob be skinnier for all the boys to fancy.
7) Passion is really important
Despite what it may look like on social media, this is not the ‘easy way’. It’s hard work, it’s likely going to be different to what you’ve done before and you spend a lot of time alone. Make sure you’re doing something you’re passionate about. It isn’t enough to just want to be able to travel, you need to think of yourself as building a career and it needs to be one you want. It’s easy to see the success of people and think ‘ok cool, I’ll just do that’… but that isn’t going to work. Write a list of everything you’ve done in your life that you’ve enjoyed and you’re good at, in school, at Uni, at work, as hobbies, then work out how you can combine things together, learn new things and build your new career. You’re never going to be able to read endlessly, write endlessly, or work as hard as you need to if you aren’t passionate about the thing you’re doing. I’m not saying it needs to be your ultimate purpose in life, I think passion and purpose are two different things. But make sure you at least LIKE the thing you’re doing and that there is a possibility it can become love.
8) You need good tech
If you’re going to go away and be a ‘digital nomad’ then make sure you’ve got the tech to back it up. In my opinion, you need it all, a good phone a good laptop, a good camera, a portable charger (this one is brilliant), AirPods (my new obsession), the WORKS. Nothing is more frustrating then having to constantly be that ‘do you have plug sockets’ person or having your phone die at a crucial moment when you’re about to take THAT life changing insta. Buy a decent portable charger because, let’s be honest, no phones last the day, Get a phone with enough GBs that you can be free with your photos and apps and get a laptop which you know won’t fail you. Then get really good insurance (and if you find it, tell me, because I’m struggling here). Also, get a decent phone plan. I doubt you’ll want to cancel your phone contract so make sure you’ve got a good one. I moved to 3 in August and got their ‘Feel at Home’ package, which means I can use my phone contract, as normal, in a load of different countries, including Bali. You’re only allowed to use ‘Feel at Home’ for 2 months then you’ll need to get a local sim, but at least it means for your initial time away you’re covered and can make calls and use 3G. I’m SO pleased I did this because a foreign country without google maps is basically what I imagine hell to be like.
9) Know your tools and platforms
There is no doubt that Social Media is going to be a big part of what you do, whether you’re working directly in Social Media or doing something completely the opposite or just want to keep in touch with your friends and family. If you’re in a random part of the world behind a Laptop you need to make sure you’re known in as many places as possible. Update all your platforms with the ‘new you’, make your LinkedIn brilliant, tidy up your Instagram. Spend time learning new platforms which will benefit you, maybe Pinterest, maybe Google Analytics, maybe WordPress or Blockchain, whatever it is, work out which Platforms you need. A lot of people spend time trying to do everything when actually, focusing on Twitter and Linkedin is way more valuable to achieving their goals then Facebook and Instagram. Get a grip of analytics and gaining insights from this, it’s really important to know what works and what doesn’t, then rinse and repeat what does.
10) Lastly, be confident and be proud of yourself
Be confident in what you’re doing, be proud of yourself for doing something different. If someone tells you you’ve inspired them, believe them! If someone asks you what you to, say with pride what you are doing. Don’t apologise for doing something different or be vague, if you’ve made this decision, then you have skills that you can be successful with. Add things to your achievements list, dance around to your new motivational playlist, go for a walk without your phone and look at the beautiful place you’re now in. Don’t rush, don’t panic, Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was Apple, or Facebook, or something a bit more up to date than Rome. AND talk to me Ilove love hearing from everyone any anyone (and it keeps me from talking too much to Angus…)