It turns out you look at the world differently as a digital nomad – go figure! But it’s not only the different cultural perspectives and high-in-life experiences that change things for you. There are some genuinely tough lessons that come with it and it’s hard to imagine learning these elsewhere – or at least not quite so abruptly.
So here come five major reality checks that every nomad has to come to terms with.
#1: There’s no such thing as the 4-Hour Workweek
Okay, so the book exists, of course – but that’s about where it ends. Nobody who cares about their business, how it’s doing or where it’s going will ever come close to a 4-hour workweek. Hell, even a 4-hour workday is difficult enough as a digital nomad. Unless, of course, you write a handful of best-selling books about fictitious life improvements and sit back while Amazon sales do all the work for you. Hang on a minute…
#2: There’s no such thing as ‘living the dream’ either
Sorry guys, but it’s just like getting a pay rise; the more you earn, the more you want. Being a digital nomad is no different either. You’ve realized your dream and made a location-free working life for yourself. But you always come across people who enjoy more free time, earn more money in the process and make your dream look like an unambitious drop in that crystal-clear ocean.
Dreams aren’t for a living; they’re for chasing. And you’ll never stop chasing, no matter how far you go.
#3: The pursuit of happiness stems from discontent
This one may be pretty obvious before you even stop on that plane, but where that discontent comes from is the real lesson here. Nomads tend to have ideas of searching for a better life, escaping the 9-5 or leaving something behind.
Eventually, though, you realize it’s not discontent with anything in particular that drives you to escape. Instead, it’s the fact that you’re discontented by nature, harder to please than most and unable to accept anything less than above average. This is one of the biggest strengths you have as a digital nomad, but it’s also an impossible urge to satisfy.
#4: Even paradise has its good and bad days
When you’re daydreaming about that life on the road, it’s hard to imagine anything but blue skies, exotic backgrounds and an unbreakable grin stretching from cheek to cheek. Reality serves up a different version of the nomad life, however, and it turns out even paradise has its good and bad days.
In fact, paradise offers up roughly the exact same number of good and bad days as your life back home did. Because it turns out “bad days” are all in your head and you’ll pretty much create the same amount of them anywhere you go. The science is already there to back up the theory and life as a nomad will go ahead and prove it to you.
#5: You’ll still have a lifetime of ‘what if’ questions
High on my list of motivations for going nomad was knowing I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t. I imaged a lifetime of “what if” questions torturing me for the rest of my days. But, the funny thing is, you still face a lifetime of “what if” questions as a nomad – perhaps even more of them.
What if I’d stayed in [whichever country] a little longer? What if I’d given that relationship a chance? What if I hadn’t left my bag with the few measly possessions I still own on that damn train? Whatever the questions may be, there are plenty of them, but what you actually end up learning is that “what if” questions are fine. They’re part of our human nature and, once you accept that, they’re not so torturous after all.
If you think those life lessons sound a bit depressing, you might be glad to hear the learning process actually turns out to be very positive. You realize it’s okay to have bad days, that’s it’s fine to have ambitions and not so bad to wonder what could have been. What you learn above all is there are something you can’t escape, some things you don’t need to escape and some things not even worth trying to escape.
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