My journey as a digital nomad started very abruptly: I was almost burnt out in a job and city I hated, overworked with a salary that barely allowed me to pay my rent and all of this with having a Master’s degree and speaking 5 languages. A friend had started a start-up and got accepted into an acceleration program in Chile. She asked me if I wanted to join her and take care of the marketing side. I didn’t think twice, immediately quit my job and moved to Santiago. My friends and family thought I was crazy, my mentor said I’d never get another real job and I needed to grow up and face adult life, but I wanted to do it and proof them that they were wrong.
With no idea on how to make a startup work, it’s no surprise that our adventure ended when the funds from the accelerator program were over. It was an amazing experience, I learnt a lot, most of all how not to do things. But I came back home very energized and not as a looser, I didn’t know exactly what to do, but knew what I DIDN’T WANT: go back to office life. It took me a few weeks to figure out that continuing with digital marketing could have been a great way for me to be location independent. So, I created a website, a blog, profiles on platforms for freelancers and started working and making money. I moved to Bali and my blog readers started contacting me asking me to help them becoming digital nomads. I loved that and soon realized, I’d much rather become a coach and support people in their journey of creating a better life.
It took me almost 2 years, a lot of sleepless nights and anxieties to figure out my path. But now I’m really fulfilled and feel entitled to give you some advice to not repeat my mistakes. This is a wonderful journey and YOU CAN make it.
Get to know yourself better
I think the first step into this exciting life is to get to know yourself really well. Try to spend some time by yourself, meditating in your room or just reflecting on your life and choices. Can you see a pattern in the decisions you made? Which decisions were good? Which ones were bad? What are you mostly proud about? What least?
I would also advise to re-think your values, identifying the ones you can’t and don’t want to compromise with. This will help you when you make a plan and vision for your project, because you want to create something that truly resonates with you, your identity and your values.
What may also help is doing some mind and body works such as yoga or breathworks, as they are very introspective activities that, like it or not, will make you think and re-think yourself and your life.
Find out what you really, really want to do
The first step into changing your life is knowing what you want. Sometimes you just know you want to escape the 9-5 but have no idea how; these are some questions you might find useful.
If you are 100% honest with yourself, can you find a dream you always had but never pursued that direction because you always thought you’re not — enough for it? What did you want to do when you were a kid, before society and the adult mentality made you change your mind? Who are the people you admire the most? Why do you admire them? What do they do? If time and money were not an issue, what would you do today?
Learn a lot about the skills and topics you’re interested in
Now that you found what you want, it’s time to become an expert in that new field, even if you don’t have a lot of experience. So, first of all, of course, you have to study: read, read, read, watch tutorials and practice the skill. Then, find out what are the most relevant publications, blogs, forums, where you can learn a lot and get advice from others.
If you want to freelance, start with small projects, maybe offer your service for free in the beginning just to build up your portfolio, get reviews, credibility and, most of all, self-confidence.
If you want to establish a startup, go to initiatives such as Startup Weekends or Hackathons, where you can learn how to do it from a very practical point of view as well as meet interesting people and potential partners or employees.
Expand your network with inspiring people
I think it’s always best for you to surround yourself with people from whom you can learn or that can truly inspire you. Who do you know who has already done something similar? Where can you find more like-minded people who understand and support you?
Usually a good idea would be to hang out in coworking spaces, as you can easily find people who have made this decision and are living life “outside of the Matrix”. They might be able to give you good advice and, most of all, they will likely understand you, your frustrations and fears.
Which leads us to the next point.
Stop telling your idea to people who’re not supportive
This is a very important choice for your life and you need a lot of positivity and support; you already have your own limiting beliefs and don’t need anybody else telling you’re crazy and won’t make it. If somebody doesn’t understand it, just stop talking to them about it. Don’t let them kill your mood.
I’m not saying to stop talking to them at all, but just avoid the topic if it doesn’t make you feel good. Or, if you feel like you’re ready for it, address the issue in a constructive way and tell them that you value them and their opinions so much, that you would appreciate their support or at least their neutrality.
I think this point is strictly correlated to the previous ones. You don’t need to do everything by yourself on this journey of quitting your traditional job and do something else you really want. It’s ok for you to ask help: find mentors, people who have already taken this step, coaches, advisors or anybody whose support you really need.
When you start your new project, you won’t likely know everything about all the actions you need to take. For instance, you’ll very likely need a website, if you’re not familiar with web development nor design, you’ll have a much harder time if you’ll try to learn those skills and do it yourself. You’ll already be busy with many other activities, let somebody else do it for you.
Also, as humans we tend to make excuses for ourselves and sabotage our own dreams. Working with someone, to whom you show your own progress, will help you with accountability and with avoiding procrastination. This is actually exactly what you’ll get if you hire a coach.
Make a plan
This is the most important part for me, as you’re making a life changing choice, you want to be prepared for it. Don’t just quit your job before you know exactly what you’re doing, how and when.
Once you know what you want, set short and long term goals for you to reach what you want. I’d also recommend to do a financial projection, it doesn’t need to be very sophisticated, but you’ll have to know what you are expecting to spend and earn on each phase. This will also help you making choices such as were to travel next, if to stay just in one place for a longer period or keep travelling.
Planning is one of the most exciting parts, because once you start taking action, your dream will become so realistic and close.
And I think a good plan is all what it takes!
This is the wisdom I got from my own experience, but also with working with others as a coach and talking to fellow digital nomads. If you feel like the digital nomad lifestyle is tempting you but you’re afraid of the unknown, we might have the solutions for you. I’m organizing retreats here in Bali in collaboration with The Happiness Planner. You’ll work from Dojo on the project that will serve you in your new life, you’ll get support from a coach, me, as well as from established digital nomads. After that, you can’t say you don’t know how to realise your dream!