You will probably have already heard how cool it is to be a digital nomad, that it’s all about being able to work from wherever, whenever you want and to travel as much as you like. Yes, this is definitely a big part of it, but not the only one. In my experience as a digital nomad myself and observer of the phenomenon, I have seen there is so much more than drinking coconuts on the beach. It’s not just a lifestyle but a life choice that will inevitably change you, not only as a person but also professionally.
This is exactly what has happened to me: I started a career in PR for the art world, continued in doing marketing for start-ups and am now working as a coach for people who want to become digital nomads. So, starting from my experience as a reference, I’d like to discuss with you how and why becoming a digital nomad will make your career evolve.
Opportunities arise in the most unexpected places
When you are a digital nomad, you work remotely and, usually, on your own business or as a freelancer. Regardless to the stage of your business, finding new clients is important. This makes you more open to new opportunities, wherever they may arise. You might randomly find people who can be potential partners and can make you pivot in a way you would have never expected. Or you might even reconsider your own career.
This is what happened to me, when I was working as a digital marketing specialist and writing about my life in Bali on my blog. Some readers contacted me to say I inspired them and they wanted to have this lifestyle too. They asked me to help them achieve the life of their dreams. This inspired me to start coaching as I saw that this is what I really want, like and am good at. It was a completely unpredicted turn but, by asking me, people made me see this new opportunity.
A digital nomad is flexible and open minded as per definition of the lifestyle. This makes it easier to be able to change and improve situations.
It makes you understand who you really are
Unless you travel with your partner, being a digital nomad implies spending a decent amount of time on your own, thinking about who you are, how your life is and how you want your future to be. These solo moments are golden opportunities to get to know yourself better. And they’re not the only ones; another big part of this lifestyle is stepping out of your comfort zone quite often. This will make you start doing things you’d have never expected: for instance, introverts find themselves approaching strangers in order to have a social life in a new place. You push yourself beyond your usual limits and realize you are so much more than them. You can do sooo much more.
Eventually, you start realizing that you can become whatever you want, as long as you work hard in that direction. You realize that your own imagination and thoughts are the real limit. You get to know the real you, without filters from what society expects you to be. And new ideas may arise.
When I was doing marketing as a freelancer, I have done some interviews and received some job offers for agencies. At first, I thought it would be good to have a fixed salary every month, but then I actually realized that I valued my freedom over security: I didn’t want a job where I had to work on somebody else’s schedule, maybe from a fix location. And, most of all, I liked being my own boss. I had always been good at school and had always done the right thing, it was new for me to see that I have an entrepreneurial mindset and can work towards that direction. But this discovery happened only because I had pushed my limits.
You find the skills you never thought of
When I quit my job in London I thought my strengths were in the languages I speak, PR, marketing and knowledge of the contemporary art world. Because this is what my work life had been so far. I knew I was going on an adventure and that I was stepping out of my comfort zone, but wouldn’t have expected the turn my career took.
When you completely change your lifestyle, you’ll inevitably find yourself doing new things. And, while some of them might feel weird and uncomfortable, others will be your new piece of cake. This will make you reevaluate what you do and what you can do, what you can do well and what are your passions. You might actually have an “aha moment” that will pivot your career and open new perspectives.
Working with startups and getting involved in projects in co-working spaces, I found myself doing presentations in public. Even though I had taken a public speaking course at university, I hadn’t really used those skills before. And I actually realized that I love speaking in front of an audience. Me, a rather shy and quiet person. This pushed me to create the workshops I now lead around the world. I don’t know how else I would have discovered this passion if I hadn’t tried something new and scary.
You’re surrounded by inspiring people
I think the environment you’re in can dramatically affect how you do what you do. When I was in my old job, my colleagues and I were quite stressed out, always making sure we achieved enough. We had very good relationships but it was hard to support each other in our mutual growth, as achieving some specific goals was the priority. It was the same for most of my friends, we were all focusing on delivering for work first and had little space or energy for personal progress.
But now, I see that I’m surrounded by inspiring people, who have an interesting story and something I can learn from. If you work from a coworking space like Dojo, there are big chances the person sitting next to you is exactly like this.
From talking to the ones who took a big leap of faith in quitting their jobs and building their new lives, you might gain a new perspective on things. There might be professionals doing your same jobs but with a different approach, because they know something you don’t and so on. But there might also be others working on something else and who have fresh ideas, who make you see things from a different angle. The benefits of such a high-quality exchange are real and they are opportunities to evolve in what you do and become a better professional.
I experienced it first hand at the Masterminds at Dojo, where members present something they’re struggling with at work and the community tries to help them. Everybody comes with their own background, experience and knowledge and I saw people finding the solution.
What ultimately happens in this life around the world is that you’ll inevitably grow, a lot; and this will easily reflect on your professional life. In the end, I think growth is what digital nomadism is all about.
Also published on Medium.