More ways than one
The loudest stories you hear about people living the digital nomad life usually follow a similar narrative; after a few years on the traditional path, they went traveling, got hooked on the freedom, and managed to grow a successful travel blog/build an online marketing business/something about dropshipping.
You could see it as a contemporary hero’s journey, the free spirit who escaped a slow death by cubicle, and who’s triumph can be perfectly captured in an Instagram post.
Entertaining as they are, if you’re involved in this community or dig a little deeper, you know that there’s a full range of other stories to be told. There are plenty of ways to both make money* and structure one’s time.
I would describe myself as somewhat location independent. There are periods when I’m working on assignments, fully remote. Some months I’m immersing myself in experiences or to work on personal projects (that might eventually see the light of day). Other times, like right now, I’m based in Sweden for clients requiring me to be on location.
In other words, it constantly changes.
Sometimes when I talk with friends who might feel a bit stuck in their lives, they say that they, too, could just leave to go traveling, but they can’t because of a, b, and c. In an attempt to diversify the picture I usually start explaining how my life isn’t perfect. But that’s not the point. It might look like I did just what I talked about earlier, quitting my job to go traveling, now freelancing from whatever tropical destination I please, insert sunset picture, THE END.
Not quite the way it happened.
The first part of the story is that it took many little steps. I went on a week-long charter to Greece before I spent a month backpacking in Australia. I worked from Bali for three months while employed before quitting my job. I tried finding a job in another country before I embraced freelancing. There was one step forward, two to the side, one back, and it all adds up to progress. It’s not a straight path. If it was, it wouldn’t be interesting. And I’d rather have interesting than easy.
The other part is that I’m only at the beginning of what I want to accomplish. As I move forward, the more I learn, the better defined my goals and priorities get. Eventually, I want to be off other people’s schedule. Move away from depending on freelance work, build other sources of revenue, that is both sustainable and aligns with my values. Nothing unique about that; nearly everyone I’ve met on this journey has the same aspirations.
There was a time when I would share the process of figuring things out. Writing my way through life, a blog post here, a tweet there. Somewhere along the way, I stopped. Maybe I got tired of internet being my job, or maybe just of my own voice. But this is my attempt to start again. Sharing the experience. Post by post.
Let’s see how it goes.
*My favorite random occupation I heard about from a nomad was the girl I met in Cape Town who supported herself in the unique craft of ghost writing sci-fi monster erotica. Yup. Hero.