“How I Knew I Wanted To Become a Digital Nomad”

“If you’re going to take on this lifestyle you can’t have an employee mindset. You’ll end up broke or bored– trying to sustain the lifestyle by scrambling for remote work” – Jon Myers

One of the biggest misconceptions about the digital nomad community is that we are all a bunch of glorified backpackers (of course, many of us are–  I don’t think there is anything wrong with that).

One such example recently got popular on Hacker News, and an interesting discussion ensued. In short, the author had a hard time adjusting to “life on the road.” Fair enough, life on the road isn’t for everyone. (And what follows isn’t a reaction to the author, just my thoughts).

If you want to sustain the location independent lifestyle for many years, I wouldn’t suggest using your freedom of time and mobility to travel around and see attractions.

What I’m attracted to is something I’ll call lifestyle business design.

If “lifestyle designers” are those who live like millionaires without having a million bucks, then “lifestyle business designers” are those who spend their time like wealthy people before they are wealthy.

How Lifestyle Business Designers spend their time:

  1. Embedding themselves in a community of others who are having the type of success they are seeking.
  2. Increasing their cash runway by baselining their expenses in environments good for work, health, and networking.
  3. Regularly attending relevant conferences and meet-ups (regardless of location).
  4. Leveraging their flexibility to gain access to influencers.
  5. Learning how to set up financial entities in foreign jurisdictions (They are a micro-multinational of one).
  6. Building distributed teams that are globally optimized for cost and performance, and then meeting them in person.
  7. Visiting their manufacturers regularly. They might even live in the same city while in prototype or production phase.
  8. Identifying mentors, meeting with them, and going to work with them in some capacity.

How Lifestyle Designers spend their time:

  1. Visiting temples.
  2. SCUBA diving.
  3. Going to Thai islands.
  4. Living the dream.
  5. Volunteering

(Please don’t get me wrong, I love these things, I’m just bringing up the issue of focus and priority). I see remote working arrangements and the like as golden opportunities, and I sometimes wince when I see aspiring entrepreneurs squander them.

Here’s what Jon Myers had to say about it (full comment):

“[this article] makes being a “nomad” seem like a wandering soul hopping gig to gig taking advantage of low cost locations without much strategy or purpose.  The whole point of being location independent… is that you can be more strategic about your location, expand your network by being exposed to serendipitous opportunities that would have otherwise not presented themselves, and grow your business.The opportunity to expose yourself to places and people on an upward trajectory, and how you can add value to those situations and take advantage of them should be a priority at the top of the list.”

I’m focused on being able to have “lifestyle design” freedoms for the rest of my life, not for the next 6 months.

Sure… it was temping to take my first remote working agreement right to a bungalow in southern Thailand, but I’m glad I didn’t.

I bet I had a lot more fun because of it.





PS, you can subscribe to the TMBA here.