Why am I obsessed with the digital nomad lifestyle? Why do I want to spread it to the ends of the Earth? Why do I talk about it incessantly? These are all great questions. Valid ones, too.
Time Freedom Is True Freedom
My answer? It is because Digital Nomads (DNs) in my opinion are free in the true sense of the word. In my opinion, they are the freest of the humans out there. There aren’t any that are freer. I know people dream about becoming celebrities, or billionaires, but in my opinion, these individuals are not free. They cannot travel anywhere they want at their own whim. They might have a lot of money, but they lack time.
And my friends, time is the new hot currency.
There are millions of us, who have money, but no time. True freedom is all about time.
Retirement Is Dead
Think about the typical scenario. Most people spend decades working really hard, giving up on their hobbies, and their relationships, to make a lot of money. Hopefully after all of that effort, they have gained some form of financial independence. Sadly, most people work all of their lives, and never gain any sort of financial independence. But let’s assume in this scenario that they worked long and hard, and they see the rainbow. They have enough money to do what they want. What do most people do? They travel for a bit. They rummage around in their gardens. They write a little bit. But after a while, they wonder was this what they worked so hard for? Was this all?
The letdown can be extreme at this point.
DNs Don’t Focus On Retirement
DNs never get that kind of let down. You see we decided a long time ago when we first start the DN journey that we are going to focus on time freedom as the essential factor in our lifestyle. Money is great and we love money. But more important to us, is time freedom. Way too many people have a lot of money that they don’t know what to do with. They buy things, because they think they must, but it doesn’t really give them any sort of satisfaction. I see it a lot when I walk around in malls. One of my favourite things to do in a mall is people watch. So many people have tons of bags with them of beautiful things they purchased, but they don’t seem to have sort of satisfaction or joy on their face. In fact, they look downright bored. How can that be?
Minimalism – Essential To Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Another aspect of DN-ism is minimalism. When you are moving around the world in the way that we do, minimalism just becomes a way of life. We don’t want to bring too many unseemly items into our lives, because we don’t know how we are going to pack it into the tiny carry-ons that we usually travel with. There is a tendency to give away a lot of our stuff, and then give away some more. It becomes a perpetual cycle. People look at us and feel sorry for us. They see the ragged worn down shoes and clothes we are wearing. But to us, these items represent freedom. To me, I always look at stuff as something that will detract from travel. Not only because I’ll have to carry it around with me, but because that’s money I could spend on travel, or on some other meaningful experience. Don’t get me wrong. I love stuff. But due to limited space, money, and intention, every item I bring into my life is chosen with extreme care. When I say extreme care, I mean, I usually take 2-3 days to decide whether I should buy something and whether I really need it.
Critical Thinking About Everything
This kind of critical thinking creeps into everything we do. We are careful about the people we spend time with, the experiences we spend time on, the stuff we purchase, the countries we go to see, the work we take on, and everything else. We are so careful because our time is precious to us. We do not want to spend the time that we have spent so much time harvesting on useless conversations, or meaningless experiences. It’s really interesting because most DNs end up throwing away not only stuff, but a lot of relationships. These relationships were not serving us in any way, and were actually detracting from us. So we let go of people so that we can make room for new relationships with individuals who are on the same wavelength as us and who are going to support us in our journey.
Are You Living A Limitless Lifestyle? Probably Not.
The limitlessness of DNship can be demonstrated this way. I invited a friend to come visit me. I was planning to go to Kerala for a quick trip as I needed to renew my Thai visa. I told her about it two months in advance. She couldn’t come. Why? She wouldn’t have accumulated enough vacation time so early in the year. She couldn’t carryover her vacation from last year, and she couldn’t borrow on her future vacation time. She was stuck.
I had been in the same situation dozens of times before. I wanted to take advantage of a cheap flight, or I wanted to go visit a friend who was getting married. Unfortunately, in most cases, I wasn’t free enough to take the time off and do what I wanted. I believe this is one of the main reasons, I quit my job and started my own online coaching business. I did it, because I couldn’t deal with the suffocating reality of a corporate job anymore. The world is humongous. There is a lot to see and do. How could I get stuck in one little portion of it for the rest of my life?
Corporations Know How To Keep Us Stuck
The interesting thing is that corporations know how to hold our interest. A lot of the people that I worked with were unhappy with the company as well, but they didn’t leave. Why? The reasons varied, but they were something like, I think the company is going to be bought out, and I want to stay so I can cash out my stock options. Or, if I stay with this company for the next 20 years, I can take early retirement, and then go buy that cottage by the lake that I’ve always wanted. Or the worst one being, I am comfortable here.
It’s easy to fall into the trap. If we stayed just a little bit longer, we would have a few more dollars in our savings, or in our retirement account. If we stayed just one more year, maybe the company will be bought out, and we will never have to worry about money again.
Will You Ever Regret Leaving? Never!
The truth of the matter is you will never regret leaving. But you might regret staying.
I live in an area of Chiang Mai with lots of retired people. These beautiful old souls worked hard all of their lives, and finally, they get to reap the rewards of it. They can retire in a warm country, where their dollar goes further, so they can live like Kings and Queens. I am one of the few younger individuals in the complex, so a lot of them stop me and ask me what I’m doing here on my own.
They always tell me the same thing. Without variation, they all say they wished they had quit their jobs and retired here earlier. They waited too long. They were too scared. They should have done this sooner. They would have found a way to make it work. Just like I am finding a way to make it work. Just like everyone finds a way to make it work. It’s the way it is. The universe always sends us the directions, but it won’t do so, until we give it a hint that we are serious. I told the universe I am absolutely serious about this lifestyle, by quitting my job, starting my business, and moving to Chiang Mai. There wasn’t a bone in my body that wasn’t quaking with fear. I was petrified. But I still went on. I had to go on.
Beg For A 2 Week Vacation? Ugh.
There was nothing else I could have done. I couldn’t have stayed back in my old lifestyle. I couldn’t have stayed in a scenario where I have to beg for a 2 week vacation every year, and even then, be made to feel guilty for taking that vacation when the company had so much to do.
My friends, and family ask me do I have any regrets about the steps I have taken?
I wonder about that sometimes. Do I have any regrets? In reality, I would repeat this year in the same format over and over again no matter what. This is the only way my life could have gone forward. I have no regrets at all. This was how I was supposed to do it. There are no ifs and buts.
My Magical Life Right Now
How else could I have flown over to Korea on a 5 hour flight from Bangkok to meet my mother who loves Korean dramas, and show her the country that she has been obsessed with for the past few months? I mean, this lifestyle caused this to happen. I had the time to go over to Korea, and because the flights were cheap, I had the disposable income as well. I was able to fulfill a dream of my mother’s to see a country that she has watched a dozen or more soap operas about.
That is not all. How else could I have had the time to start running a creativity workshop and discover a talent for helping people discover new parts of themselves? How else could I have had the time to start doing improv and discover a long lost love for drama, and theatre that I am currently pushing more on? How else could I have had the time to start watercolour painting, DanceMandala (movement meditation), and other beautiful endeavours that I only dreamed about before?
Time Freedom Is Key In The Digital Nomad Lifestyle
Most of us think that we are going to make the money first, and then we will be able to bring more time into our lives. I think that is the wrong way to go about it. When you do it that way, you end up spending a lot of time and effort on stuff, and other things that you don’t really need to, because you are trying to satisfy an empty soul. When you focus on time first, you are able to cull down everything that non-essential, and focus entirely on the things that are important to you.
I ask myself this question on the daily – Am I focused on what is important to me or am I getting distracted? That keeps me focused on the crucial things. I am not chasing the shiny objects of the world. I’m definitely not perfect, and I do end up doing some things out of duty or obligation or politeness. But mostly, I am engineering this lifestyle where everything is meaningful and matters to me. Every moment is designed and geared to bring me closer to my goal of more time freedom, and location independence.
Location Independence Is Important To Me, Not To Every Digital Nomad
Why does location independence matter? It doesn’t. It is important to me, but it doesn’t mean that it would be important to you. But you will notice the perks of location independence when you realize you can go visit your mother when she’s sick, or you can go to that concert that you always missed because of work. I see so many posts about people being able to spend time with family at crucial times, because they are DNs and they don’t have to work a set schedule. This means, you don’t have to beg work for time off. You are working on your own schedule.
When I travel now, everyone knows I have to work for 2-3 hours in the morning. I get up early as I am a morning person, and I spend that time on doing some work for my business, instead of on social media, or other wasteful activities. After that, I’m free to spend time on sightseeing, or on other creative endeavours, like writing a book, or running a creativity workshop. I love it. I absolutely love the flexibility and I crave more and more of it as time goes on. If you think I’m absolutely ruined for the 9-5 world, you would be absolutely right.
Engineer Your Life To Be What You Want
The awesome thing about the Digital Nomad lifestyle is that we all become engineers of our lives. We don’t have to follow any set code of conduct, or worry about how others are doing it. We don’t have to all move to Chiang Mai and start an online business. We can spend our time freedom on creating a line of designer bags, or volunteering with an organization in Kenya. We are the true masters of our fate, and in this regard, we can create the life that we want. Every DN’s life looks different. That is to be expected.
I have spoken a lot about ‘Lifestyle Engineering’. This is something we are all doing on a daily basis. Some of us are letting our jobs engineer our lives for us. Others, like the DNs I know, are engineering their lives without any interference from others. Lifestyle engineering matters to me, as I’m independent, spontaneous, and free. I would like to stay that way. Others don’t care much about Lifestyle Engineering. They are content to let someone else take the reins.
That isn’t the point. The point is to be aware that your life is being engineered whether you are aware of it or not. If you are aware, that’s great. If not, then realize it and do something about it.
Interested In Learning More About The Digital Nomad Lifestyle?
I could write endlessly about this lifestyle and I will in future posts, but for now, I want to finish off with this story. My friend lives in the United States. She works in a high-powered corporate job. She loves it. Or she did until she gave birth. She didn’t have any maternity leave with her company. She had to go back to work a week after she gave birth. She had a Caesarian and in the middle of a presentation, her stitches started bleeding. She had to rush back to the hospital, and beg her job to give her another two weeks off. She would have been fired, but she had a great reputation with the company. They gave her the time off but with lots of severe warnings. ‘Never let this happen again,’ they said to her. She wasn’t going to. She didn’t want to lose her job.
Whenever I think about this story, it makes me even more determined to make this DN lifestyle work for me. I am determined to bring more and more time freedom into my life. That is the only way to slightly beat the system. They are good at what they do. They will suck you in with incentives, bonuses, stock options, and a rainbow retirement at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Don’t let them get to you. Fight back with time freedom and the Digital Nomad lifestyle.
If you are interested in learning how I can help you create a Digital Nomad lifestyle, email me directly at boomshikha at themillionairehippie.designextreme.com dot com. I’m always here to help.