If you have ever in your life had the inclination to travel, to change your circumstances, or you feel that the world is a place full of bright ideas, exciting opportunities and life changing choices, I think you will understand where I am coming from here. This post is inspired by one of my favourite books, “The Art of Non Conformity“. I would like to start this article off with bit of background info on how I started working online. It was back in 2005, and I jumped straight in at the deep end and decided to travel after quitting my 9-5, commute 3 hours a day job. After I made my decision to live abroad, I of course knew that I would have to work as well, money doesn’t grow on trees, and despite the fact you can live very economically abroad depending on where you are, you most certainly can’t live for free.
The advice I found at the time was mainly for students who were taking a year out, the possibilities for work meant things like fruit picking, volunteering on eco-projects where they gave you a tent and 3 meals a day and teaching English… in all honesty, none of those things really suited me. That’s when I got the idea of providing services online for people, I explored this possibility further, and found that there was already a name for this, a “virtual assistant“. Well, I literally had found my calling, the lights went on, the brass band was playing and the fireworks started going off. I was going to be a virtual assistant, and that was going to fund my travels. Later I discovered there was another name for what I was doing – “digital nomad“.
Since then I have worked with many entrepreneurs, some have been static, living in one place and some have been digital nomads, I love working with both, but I have noticed a refreshing difference in the entrepreneurs I have worked with who have travelled and gone and really grabbed life by the unmentionables.
These are the particularly common traits I have found:
#1 They spend more time in the sun, and generally have a sunny disposition.
Digital nomads often times will pick warmer, more tropical climates to go to, the difference that the sun can make to someone is pretty amazing, I think it has a lot to do with the amount of daylight a person gets, but their overall mood and disposition is much more, well, Sunny. The digital nomads I have worked with are far more adventurous in their business, open to try new things, open-minded in their approach, and on the whole much more down-to-earth, in an Earthy sense of the word.
I have honestly never come across a digital nomad who has ever had a “woe is me” attitude. They tend to see the glass as half full most of the time, and are pretty happy-go-lucky kind of people, taking life in their own stride, seeing problems as challenges that they need to overcome, rather than roadblocks that are going to prevent them from going anywhere.
#2 Their success is generally measured by their happiness, not their bank balance.
The very unfortunate thing about western society, certainly from where I come from (UK), and where my husband comes from (America), is that it can sometimes (not in all cases of course) mean as a society in general, we judge people for the wrong reasons, the success of a person I think should be based on their personal, inner happiness, the thing that money can’t buy, yet I left a society which measured success by the car you drove, the size of your house, your possessions and the things you could afford, and, this is a biggy, your “social status.” From experience, the only people who are going to understand and really relate to true personal success are those who have seen and experienced a life without the stigma of maintaining a social status and “keeping up appearances,” or those who are aware in themselves this problem exists, and will consciously try not to engage in that kind of lifestyle — travellers or people who have lived outside of that box, have had that huge weight lifted off of them. Let’s look at it this way…. I had a friend once and her parents put a lot of pressure on her to marry a doctor or a lawyer, someone with a “title” basically, anything less would not have been good enough, but for who? Good enough for them, or good enough for their daughter, surely if the guy who worked in her local coffee house, who made her laugh everyday, was kind-hearted, loved her unconditionally, but was poor, would have been a more suitable choice. The fact is this kind of “I am more important than you because… status issue we have” cannot always be what’s best for people, no matter how much we convince ourselves it is. If you’re someone who has made a break from that, you likely see life from a very different perspective, which means you also see business and the reasons why you do it, from a different perspective as well.
#3 Digital nomads have demonstrated their courage.
The nice thing about packing your bags and going out into the great unknown is that you already have done something “life changing.” It takes guts, it takes courage, it takes a strong sense of self, it takes life ambition and it also takes “passion.” These are all characteristics which make a remarkable business person, not just any business person, a remarkable one. I love working with people who are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone, take a few risks and go out into the unknown to pursue their dreams, confident that anything is possible and no matter what happens the fact is they tried and that’s what matters. Digital nomads tend to appreciate how short life is, and how we should make the most of it – they’re prepared to give up and sacrifice, in such a way that will often scare many people to the extent that they will never pursue their dreams.
#4 Digital nomads invest in, and value life experience.
The one thing I have noticed is that digital nomads will invest their earnings back into life experiences, if they are entrepreneurs they will no doubt strive to develop a profitable business, it’s just the general nature of ambitious business people, and when they do, it won’t all be squirrelled away for a rainy day, or used for purchasing ‘stuff’. Whilst most of us to some extent will need to have savings, (it’s only sensible), we tend to put away the money we really need, plus a little bit extra, whatever is left we will spend on life experiences, and the value I place on experience, goes far beyond the value I place on money. It’s not the money which is important, it’s all about the possibilities of what you can do with it after you have met your essential cost of living obligations. I have kids, I want to show them the world and give them insight into different cultures and lifestyles so one day they can make the right choices for themselves, based them on their own experiences. I am very fortunate to be able to run a virtual business allowing me this mobility. We all want to earn money, but the reasons why we want it can vary considerably.
To summarise, digital nomads tend to live by their own rules and are often non-conformists.
Life is hard, we all have our problems, we all have responsibilities and obligations, there is no instruction manual telling you how you should handle them, and we rely on the people in power so to speak to set the rules and tell us how we should live, what we should do, and how we should do it. If you’re one of those people who is fed up with living “inside the box,” playing by the rules like there’s no other choice, then I strongly suggest you read the book from a man I personally admire very much, Chris Guillebeau, the book is called “The Art of Non Conformity“, and it will explain in greater depth, and much better than I can the mindset of a non-conformist. You have a choice, some choices are more restricted for certain people depending on their circumstances, but it’s likely that the only person stopping you from doing whatever it takes to achieve your goals and make those life-changing choices, is “you.”
I always used to take the option which was the most sensible, or what I considered the safest — I later realised that option could also be the most hindering to my progression in life, my happiness and my finances.