Why Travel Doesn't Have to Make You a Digital Nomad
On May 7, 2018, I read a post by Stephanie Lee on the Growth Lab site. This article was suggested in an email by Ramit Sethi to his email subscribers. As soon as I saw the headline in my email, I knew I had to drop everything and read it.
First of all, Ramit Sethi is a smart, no-nonsense guy who tells it like it is (and please follow him on Instagram). He makes personal finance make sense and gives you clear, specific examples of good, bad, and ugly financial decision making. He's built a successful business and if you take the time to read, learn, and absorb, he can help you without ever interacting directly with you. If you're a self-aware introvert looking to improve professionally and personally, it’s a dream come true. Secondly, Ramit gets solid writers to write for Growth Lab and being in the travel industry, this article immediately got my attention.
Let's break it down
In this article, What I Wish Someone Told Me Before Becoming A Digital Nomad, Stephanie talks about the ugly side of being a digital nomad. If you've ever considered selling your house, giving away all your material possessions, and living in Southeast Asia for the foreseeable future, you need to read this article. Her points throughout the article are fantastic and I agree with her 100%.
What I want to call out specifically is the theme that travel will not fix your problems. No matter where you travel, you're still there. You bring your baggage, both literally and figuratively, everywhere you travel. Vacations allow you to run away from your problems or escape your job for a short time. Full-time travel, or being a digital nomad, allows you to live where you want, when you want, so long as you have an income to fuel your lifestyle. But full-time travel doesn't allow you to escape all the things you tried to escape at home.
But I hate my 9-5! Shouldn't I go against the grain and follow my passion?
Let's unpack that, shall we? If you hate your 9-5 job, either the culture at the company sucks or your attitude about your life sucks. I guarantee if your attitude sucks, that will come with you every single place you travel. If the culture at your company sucks, you can work to change the culture from the inside or change companies. Just like building an email list for your digital nomad business, you have to build a base of happiness where you are before making giant leaps into unknown territory searching for happiness.
What about going against the grain?
What does that even mean anymore? In 2018, I think being a banker is more against the grain than many other paths out there, including being a digital nomad. Get over this.
But, I should definitely follow my passion… right?
This one is tricky. The more experienced I get, the more I believe that you can create a passion for nearly anything. You can find something that's interesting and cultivate a passion. You can find something you're good at and cultivate a passion. You can find what makes your heart sing and attempt to monetize it. However, I'd be willing to bet the thing you're truly, deeply, irrevocably passionate about is intangible. Me? I'm passionate about my family and helping people. Guess what? You can't say, "I'm passionate about helping people" and expect the money to roll in. This is exactly what Stephanie is getting at in the Growth Lab article. You have to put in the work. To quote the amazing Kevin Hart, "Everybody wanna be famous. Nobody wanna do the work."
Do the work. If you're passionate about something intangible, figure out ways it shows itself in the real world. If you're passionate about traveling, because that's why you're reading this, how can you turn that passion for travel into a business. At the end of the day, digital nomads are either running an income-generating business or they're relying on others to pay them for work. Just because you do it at some remote Australian beach or you do it from a Parisian cafe, it's still work.
One of the biggest misconceptions out there, particularly in the digital nomad community, is the notion that traveling full time does not equal working.
Working can be genuinely fun, but there's no prescription to finding how to make work fun. Again, if you have a crappy attitude towards your job or your life, it's going to be significantly harder to find the fun in your work. You can read every Buzzfeed and Mashable article out there on finding your "passion" or "what you're meant to do" but it's superficial. I said it once, you have to find the joy and happiness where you are before you can expect happiness in your next step.
Ultimately, this is the heart of what Three Star Traveler is all about. This community is here for those of us who want to make travel part of our lives and not use it as an escape from our problems. If you want to be a digital nomad, wonderful! Read Stephanie Lee's article. If you want to keep working at your job and simply take advantage of every single vacation day at your disposal, that's awesome too. No matter what, this group is here to help you on your journey to becoming a better person and citizen of the world.