I can tell that I have been to quite some places in this world already. And some of these places were and still are so-called digital nomad hotspots. Such places as Tarifa in Spain, Medellin in Colombia or Bali in Indonesia. Places where a few factors come together that make these folks to show up in such bulks that you might come to the conclusion that soon everybody around the globe will be nomadic.
In this previous article of mine I was going into some advice of what to take care of when becoming location independent. And as things go its way, over the course of time I started to realize new things, realized that certain aspects had become more evident to me.
Going through a lot of groups in Facebook and by giving free online events such as the Thriving Nomads Summit which I co-organized back in Aug. 2020, I came to realize that there is one major point of interest showing up over and over again. People are wondering how they can find a remote job and become nomadic.
And then it’s not very far, this one following question:
“How can I become a digital nomad?”
NOPE, THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS
I understand this question. I heard and read it many many many times before. And as fair enough as it might be, to me it’s as meaty as the profane question “How can I become rich?” Best of all fast please.
I am wondering about people’s motivation behind all of that. Well, in a way I don’t because I know all of the advantages – and disadvantages – of being location independent:
- Not having to deal with the daily big city commute is a blessing for sure.
- Creating my own work schedule is fantastic.
- Choosing whether I would like to stay at home today or work in a café somewhere.
- Add your own points here, I am sure you will find some…
Well, who has such a freedom to do that, right?
The question “How can I become a digital nomad?” is not the relevant question to ask.
WORKING REMOTE = FREEDOM?
Yes, I hear you. Dealing with colleagues that you can’t stand on a daily basis is a pain in the ass. Sitting useless and unproductive hours in front of the screen just because you have to stay around for 8 hours daily because this is what you get paid for can be very tiring and frustrating for the very least.
Well okay, such things can actually also happen when working remote. In fact, working remote is not all flowers and glitter, not at all. However, about the disadvantages of working remote and location independence will be topic of another blog article of mine in the future.
Anyway, it’s not far that people in general are seeking for freedom. The promise to do what they want, when they want it. Not having to fight over holiday breaks with competing work mates. Just to not having to care about all the bullshit in the office. And hell yeah, in quite a few offices the biggest sources of clashes are the kitchen and the in-house parking lot.
Remote work is not all flowers and glitter
ALRIGHT, SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO FIRE YOUR BOSS?
Some people just stand up one day, give it all up with a Chuck-Norris-Roundhouse-Kick and try something completely new. You know, the burn-out endangered accountant who goes to India becoming a yoga teacher. Others slowly work their way out of the 9–5 grind starting with a small side project. And again others stay in their job for the next 20 years although they know they hate it so much.
I might argue that all of them have more or less the same driving purpose behind all of that: wanting to have more freedom. Some stand up for it, others don’t. Okay, the latter might be actually more seeking for security.
I used to judge people for staying put in that said security, especially when continuing with something they hated. I stopped doing so, first of all because I was and still am guilty about this myself; secondly because after all it’s ultimately up to every single one’s personal responsibility to make a change.
In this context, freedom sounds like a very sweet solution, maybe even like the only one.
WAIT, IT’S ACTUALLY RATHER PART OF A BIGGER THING
To my personal experience, and through many talks with people who have already reached the sublime status of location independence, however, I believe that this seeking for freedom is kind of incomplete. It’s more of an escape, a running away from something into a blank space. Like going traveling without a specific goal.
While this is not necessarily bad and can turn out into wonderful things indeed, I want to propose the meaning factor here. The bigger goal that you are aiming for, that something you are running to. Like going traveling with a mission.
So you want to be location independent, fine. But what is your Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle’s WHY?
That can be many different things. You might want to move to and live in another country wanting to learn the language and immerse into the culture. Or maybe using the chance to look more often after your parents who are growing old. Or else you have the intention to create a badass rural coworking and coliving project that has been roaming around in your mind for years.
Well, that’s actually my case. The last point is my personal WHY.
WHATEVER YOUR PURPOSE IS, IT GIVES YOU MEANING
“Freedom” lets you live into every day without anything specific and you need to create some structure for yourself.
“Meaning“ gives you an orientation, something that reminds you on WHY you are doing your day-to-day tasks.
“Freedom” lets you travel to random places where you might or might not find some serendipity or meet someone interesting. Chances are that “Meaning” will sooner or later get you there anyway.
“Freedom” can make you feel empty and somewhat clueless, things can feel random and arbitrary. As a location independent in specific that means that you can go anywhere you want which makes every place equally eligible. It doesn’t matter if you stay somewhere for five weeks or five months. Nobody really cares.
“Meaning”, a higher goal, gives you a purpose and clarity, creates value for you and for others. As a location independent that you are able to contribute to something larger than simply yourself and maybe your shiny Instagram profile. There is a point to your endeavors and ambitions. It feels right.
Freedom is like an empty blank space. Meaning embeds you into an expedient context
So regardless whether you are only faint-halfheartedly playing with the idea to have a location independent lifestyle or you are actually already fully into it – only running away from something will make you feel incomplete and lost in the long run.
The vision, the bigger goal will give you the energy and resilience you will need along the path you’ll walk.