My journey to becoming a digital nomad

the first step is the hardest

becoming a digital nomad

It can be anything – moving to a new city,  switching majors in college, getting married or  switching careers. You’re trying to live life differently or thinking about making a major change.

First, you dream about it. Then you start to think and ponder the idea more. Mull it over & over. It seems daunting. It’s a little scary going in one direction thinking you’ll make a right and suddenly, you want to make a left turn instead.

That was me not too long ago. During that time, it was hard to look at myself in the mirror and admit I was lost and unhappy. It took awhile to realize the path I was so confident about walking down may not have been the right direction after all. Once I realized this, it took more courage to stop and make a change instead of continuing down the ole’ familiar yellow brick road of “regular life.”

Deciding to give the digital nomad life a chance wasn’t over night. It was s-l-o-w and took a cheesy amount of reflecting and soul searching to figure it out. I had two choices – accept my life as is OR do something to change it. So I took control and veered a hard left.

How I punched unhappiness in the face and walked away

My personal story to becoming a digital nomad:

In 2008, I graduated college and scored a cushy secure job at an IT consulting firm. I was excited to “climb the corporate ladder” and didn’t mind working in a business suit and heels every day. For a few years, I worked hard, “played the game” and was rewarded with raises & promotions.

With more money came a “fancy car” and my own apartment filled with designer shoes & bags. All the materialistic items I thought made me happy. I also started to travel – something I’ve always dreamed of but couldn’t afford until now. Travel opened my eyes up to the world. It was exciting + adventurous and I enjoyed it immensely.

At the same time that my passion for travel was growing, the love for my current job & life was diminishing. There was even a point where I had a slight quarter-life crisis. I remember calling my parents sobbing about how I thought I was slaving away in the wrong career. I said I wanted to “start over” but didn’t know my head from my ass to even begin and how to change.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like I spent the majority of my early 20s hating my life! I just changed. I used to love it but that life (working in a typical office & buying stuff) wasn’t what I wanted anymore.

I wanted to move on and do something else – something…more but I was a hot little mess. The easiest solution at the time was just to live with it. Accept the status quo and travel during vacation while doing the day job…just like everybody else.

So I did. I took comfort in the mentality that money doesn’t buy happiness but I’d rather be crying in a BMW than on the bus. I was OK for awhile. I woke up every day to work and did my best (as you should with anything you do). But it was just…work. I was proactive and took action to fulfill my wanderlust in other ways – like starting this blog. It was these little differences that made the mundane meaningful.

I quickly learned there were a million other ways to live a more flexible life and I was going to do it. It was time to get creative about combining work & life in pursuit of whatever it was I was lacking to be content.

becoming a digital nomadOnce this dawned on me, my path was crystal clear.

I wanted to live a life that was enriching. A life full of things I love, enjoy doing, and find meaningful. That life meant being somewhere I could be flexible + creative. A job where I could be location-independent and didn’t matter what I wore to the office. Call it being a (digital) nomad, tech-nomadic, location-independent, or whatever. It was just more freedom + mobility that I wanted. After that, the idea of following your personal legend comes into play.

Utilizing my skills set and experience that I gained over the years (school & experience is important), I got with a company that allowed more flexibility, creativity, working with GREAT people and I’m excited to work hard. Alongside, I was free to pursue my other projects. They say everything happens for a reason and it’s all about timing. It is.

It’s about knowing what you want, realizing the possibilities, and making the correct choices to get there.

Why did it take so long?

A small part of me wished that I didn’t take “so long” to figure out what I truly wanted but at the same time, I didn’t want to throw caution to the wind and jet off into the world completely broke with just a backpack. I’m not THAT wild and carefree (unlike many other brave nomads!). Changing your life needs to be a conscious & purposeful decision.

I needed to spend a few years gaining experience and skill set in a specialized field because I didn’t want to be a bartender while on the road. So, my point is — take your time and make sure your decision is a wise + conscious one.

After, make a purposeful plan to get there. The plan doesn’t have to be a one track map with every detail laid out but it has to be substantial with clear goals & steps. In Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change – the 2nd habit is Begin with the end in mind. Sometimes going with the flow is fun and easy but the flow is usually downhill (and ends the bottom of a creek).

How I punched unhappiness in the face and walked away

Once I took the first step to reach my goal (becoming a digital nomad in this case),  it took less effort to take the second and the third and soon you gain traction. Was it without struggle? No. Was it without doubt sometimes? Hell no. You will always have some fear and some doubt but refuse to let that control you. I figured, so what if I’m scared?

The only thing worse than being scared is doing nothing at all because you’re scared (or worse – lazy). Being scared is just an emotion and you can’t let emotions get the best of you. So what if you’re worried it won’t work out? Do it anyway and have faith it will. Adversity makes life a little fun and challenging anyway.

I was walking through my personal hell, kept going and got through it to get over it. It feels amazing and honestly, I’m pretty proud of myself. I hope if there’s anybody else feeling the same way that they keep grudging along because it’s not impossible. There are others who have been there and now finding themselves in a much better place.

On top of that, I discovered the idea of living minimally. The whole minimalist idea went hand in hand with my freedom-loving life so I sold, donated, or tossed mostly everything I owned. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not living in a shoebox with one pair of underwear but the things I *do* own, are purposefully used and has a specific purpose.

So after becoming a (newbie) minimalist, I spent time in the West coast with family + short travel trips. Now, I’m back in Thailand for a few months. My plan is to meet + connect with other travelers and digital nomad and creatives that I have more in common with & enjoy the experience of being in a different place. A few other popular techie/creative hubs besides Chiang Mai are Bali and Vietnam. A resource that helps nomads connect with each other is the digital nomads community called #nomads (where I’m part of the admin and moderator team), NomadList and NomadForum.

After that, I’ll most likely head to Hawaii for a few months but of course, that can change and you might find me somewhere else in the world instead. Hit me up if you’re in the same area as I am!