Category Archives: The Decision

Third World Digital Nomad – It is not Just a Dream!

Malalison Island kids

To be a lawyer. That’s what I’d subtly sculpted myself into.

So, I studied Political Science as my pre-law course. Now, I am no lawyer. Not even close to becoming one. These days, I am dedicating my time helping typhoon Haiyan survivors re-build not just their shelters but hopefully, their lives. Alongside with that, I play with my younger siblings or bike slowly, as if I’m a little imaginary zipper between country roads.

In 2007, I quit my office job and dared to work remotely. Being from the Philippines, it’s an insane move for many. We spend most years studying as hard as we can – our parents and the society would constantly remind us that education is the only way we can win over poverty. So, most people, after college, take the necessary license exam and try their best to get a job. Not everyone lands at the best places where they can cultivate their interests. Both unemployment and underemployment stop someone here to really take that journey within.

One day, I felt that the usual route is NOT also for me. So I just had to set my self free.

As soon as I started working from home, a lump of fear grew inside me. But then again, I told myself “is life full of certainties? No. I might as well just enjoy the ride and focus on my passions.” I ventured and pursued my love for the written. Then, I seeked for writing-related job opportunities online (Onlinejobs.ph, Odesk.com, Freelancer.com)

Mind you, Charles Bukowski is one of those dead people who have deeply influenced me in my decision.

“now, I’m not saying that I’ve conquered
the world but I’ve avoided
numberless early traffic jams, bypassed some
common pitfalls
and have met some strange, wonderful
people

one of whom
was
myself—someone my father
never
knew. “

(excerpt from ‘Throwing Away my Alarm Clock’)

 

Indeed.

My life as a digital nomad has paved the way to simple living. And by simple living I mean experiencing life as a complex process – rich, enjoyable, affordable and profound.

  • Investing in relationships

In the mornings, I’d walk to the old coffee house in the town center of Barotac Viejo. Owned and managed by a lovely old couple – he is 84, she is 76. He reads a lot of cowboy novels, she wears 1960s dresses. They’d tell me about their lives – about how they once got this book which unraveled her roots. That her great grandfather was a Portuguese pirate. For 10php (0.25 USD), I have native coffee and time machine hitchhiking. They both have become my friends.

Being a digital nomad allows me to spend more quality time with my family. From this, I learn not only from the wisdom and experience of my parents but as well as the wisdom and energy of my younger siblings and cousins. Coming from a culture of close family ties, I can say that at this point of my life, I’ve realized what ‘home’ feels like.

At some point, I’d found it hard to hang out a lot with peers since most of them work 9 to 5. When I began to travel and immerse with the grassroots (doing volunteer work), everything seemed to change.

Keeping rich relationships make life simpler for me. Though I still have to deal with few forced conversations, I feel lighter when I spend time alone and know that whenever I want to find comfort in the company of others, I’ll no longer have to settle for less.

 

  • Investing in experience

Back in the office, the air-conditioning and white walls made me feel sleepy. I knew there was more to life than sitting there and waiting for things that never arrived. Working remotely has opened the world of wandering and wondering to me. With more time in my hands, I enjoy finding myself in a new place, around new people.

When not travelling around the islands, I host or meet people through Couchsurfing or sometimes just by randomly starting a conversation. As I help my family (dominant cultural component of the East), I also water the seeds of my own heart, mind and spirit. I love people, I love the unknown. And I love the intangibles between both loves. I love places. Sometimes, I feel those that I’ve been to still dream of me… until I return.

Because of my heart to experience, I am able to feel that my dreams do breathe and they are sometimes uncategorized. Back in the days, people told me that I’d definitely make a great lawyer but as the years were swept away by my curiosity and Romanticism, I’ve come to realize that I don’t want to be in such place. I am fond of writing, seeking, taking pauses after a deep thought and reflection. I enjoy finding out about my own loopholes. I enjoy carefree clothes and nature. I feel alive when I meet people who feed my longing for the softer world.

Travel through the soles (via my feet, boats, buses and aeroplanes) and the soul (via books, music, films and serendipity) fuel me.

  • Investing in the simplest pleasures

The digital nomad lifestyle has led me to a realization – I want my life simple. Not a shopping mall person here. Not a cosmetic lady too. Not a gadget freak.

I own less – a bike, a 3-year old laptop, a super cheap old-model cellphone, some clothing, mostly handmade/ DIY accessories and some second-hand books (those I haven’t given away just yet).

Come to think of it, if I have spent my time sitting on that work desk (which I did not like much), I wouldn’t be able to try and err, try and realize, try and journey within my heart. I wouldn’t be able to have enough peace that would one day take me to the path I am more comfortable with. All those people and places, circumstances and solitude have washed me to this happier shore where I am now.

Perhaps, I am not fancied by the shiniest of materials and commerce because I find joys in little things – a slow bike to the foot of the hills, a dip in the nearby sea, a view of the sunset, playing with my younger siblings, an aimless walk, a little yet relaxing conversation with someone, a sight of the trees or wild flowers… cuddles whilst low-voiced talks.

To be a lawyer. That’s how I subtly sculpted myself into.

Now, I am a freelance web writer-social media specialist-crowdfunding VA and…

a free spirit (hmmm yes!).

—–

Kristine Buenavista

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Filed under Digital Nomads, Motivation, The Breakaway, The Decision, Working Remotely

Taking a Chance: My Leap to Expatriatism in Russia

russia-the-decision

It was some point during a University lecture on a topic which had no interest to me that I realized ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’ Slightly ironic as I’d happily signed up to the three years and paid my dues to do so. And yet, at some point into my second year I knew that it wasn’t for me.

Not the University course itself, I did end up finishing it. But what would come later such as the task of searching for positions that I knew would not fulfill me or going through endless rounds of interviews lying through my teeth at each stage. It just wasn’t something that I had the heart to do. I guess I wanted to follow some free path in my life rather than struggle to climb someone else’s ladder.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

The lucky break happened during the World Cup in 2006. I was in Moscow as part of a year abroad through University. I can’t remember which teams were playing but I do remember that I got chatting to a Scottish guy who was editor for a magazine for ex-pats in Moscow.

We bought beers, ate food and I took his card. When I got back to my apartment later that night I wrote a travel article from the perspective of a foreign student in Russia and submitted it.  On and off over the next year while I completed my final year of University we kept in touch and I sent my articles in.

When my course ended I asked straight out for a job and got it. By that time he was working on a new magazine which was yet to launch and I was thrown in at the deep end to write content, source advertising and take photos.

My Russian language wasn’t the best and there were some tasks I was vastly inexperienced in. Building a sales team when I had no sales experience myself was tough. But I maintained belief and persevered and it came off. The magazine launched and it was a proud moment to have been part of something like that. That kind of break just would not have happened for me back home.

I guess my biggest advice would be not to fear opportunity. Chances really do happen, especially abroad when people are outside of their comfort zones. Strike up conversations, don’t be forceful with it and if and when an opportunity arises then take it.

And in my experience, a beer goes a long way towards helping too.

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Making the Decision to Go Remote | Location Independence [Video]

Research shows we put more weight into how we may later regret a decision than we actually do if it ends up being a bad choice.

More importantly, we regret NOT making decisions to do things above all else.

In other words…DO IT.

Subscribe to the RCTRL YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/remotecontrolnoel

 

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Breaking Free: The Turning Point

A beautiful day on the canals

It only takes one moment or one experience for you to decided to turn your life around. For me that experience was actually the three months I spent living in Greece.

Don’t get me wrong my life was pretty good to begin with, I was born a Dual Citizen of the United States and Italy, my parents chose to raise me and my sister in the U.S. but we still enjoyed frequent trips to Europe to visit family. I mean it’s pretty fantastic to be able to say that while my friends spent their summers at day camps or in Florida I was off enjoying the sunny Mediterranean. Still something was missing, I had traveled to Italy countless times but I had never fully felt like I had traveled so in my junior year at university I made a decision that effectively changed the rest of life (dramatic I know, but true).

Since I was young I had been in love with ancient Greek and Roman mythology and I always knew I one day would want to visit Greece. So that was it, Greece was the perfect place to make my escape to. I set about applying to countless jobs, my parents were supportive but hesitant in my plan. The constant ït’s okay if you need to come home early” made me feel like they didn’t believe that I could make it happen for myself, but I did and boy was it the best decision of my life.

That trip was my turning point, I met so many people who were not only my age, 21 at the time, but younger who had been traveling for years. They all had amazing stories of venturing to Thailand, India, Spain really everywhere and anywhere you could imagine. I knew that when I returned to university that fall my life would be forever different, I had caught the bug and I was completely and overwhelmingly infected. Much to my parents dismay I made the choice to take a year off after finishing my degree. Two months after my graduation I was off, I spent three months living in Rome and then moved to Amsterdam, where I have been happily situated for over a year (so much for only taking a year off).

The decision to move abroad is similar to bungee jumping or skydiving, you know want to do it because of the thrill and the rush of adrenaline that await you but there are so many things that could wrong people often never take the jump.

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Taking the plunge…when FREE is all you want to be

Cuddling a cheetah in Zambia, absorbing the serenity of Petra in Jordan, getting up close and personal with Galapagos seals and being overawed by Egypt's Luxor Temple. Choose to break free...and you can do it all

Cuddling a cheetah in Zambia, absorbing the serenity of Petra in Jordan, getting up close and personal with Galapagos seals and being overawed by Egypt’s Luxor Temple. Choose to break free…and you can do it all

As a long-term vagabond I’m often asked if ‘travel’ is the most important thing in the world to me. Whilst I understand how people may come to this seemingly logical conclusion, considering I don’t seem to be able to keep still in one spot for longer than a month, I am often left wondering why others don’t see what I see. Why do they not realize that this kind of life is not about travel per say? The decision to reshape my life and make it location independent is, and always has been, all about freedom.

Freedom is, above all else, my most precious possession.

To be completely honest, it may be a little presumptuous to assume everyone understands the true ideal behind living such a blissfully unrestricted life. After all…it took me long enough to reach that conclusion!

It was around the beginning of 2004 when I finally realized the cause behind my recent bout of unhappiness. Everyone in my life was telling me I had all the reasons in the world to be happy: I’d just turned 30, was in a highly paid job in the fashion industry and had just taken possession of a gorgeous inner-city apartment in Sydney, Australia. By all intents and purposes…I was on the ‘right’ track. But right for whom? Who on earth decided that this was the way we were all meant to live? Whilst my friends coveted my designer wardrobe and my parents were proud as punch I’d made a long-term investment; all I felt was that I was losing control of my life…inch by inch. I do understand that some people may look at their heavily mortgaged four walls and see security and long-term stability, yet all I saw was virtual handcuffs.

I felt claustrophobic, frustrated and not a little depressed to tell you the truth. It wasn’t until one totally unremarkable day that the famed light bulb was tuned on. I was staring at the photocopying machine watching endless copies of a document emerge from the out-tray. As the hypnotic sound and motion of the pages entranced me, I remember smirking and thinking ‘This may just be the personification of the rest of my life. Every day the same, every year identical; everything predictable and safe’. It was then that I saw my situation for what it was and I could finally verbalize what and why I had been feeling so unfulfilled. I didn’t want safe and predictable, I didn’t care about pretty clothes or accumulated assets; all I wanted was freedom. The only thing I wanted was control of my life.

Travel turned out to be my most fervent desire yet I do see this as a by-product of enjoying personal freedom. Making the decision to chase my dream of long-term travel was not the difficult part for me; coming to the realization that this is what I desired most was by far much harder. From beginning to end this process took two years of my life, yet of course this is neither regret nor a statement of self-admonition. It was a necessary process I had to go through in order to build up the courage to leave all my securities behind and to reshape my mindset.

If you happen to share my passion for travel and my fervent desire to be free of modern societal constraints, you may be wondering how on earth you could ever afford to take the plunge yourself.

Well, after nearly a decade of aimless wanderings, I’m here to ask you just one question…

How can you afford not to?

 

Written by Laura Pattara

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Turning Nomad: Motivated by inspiration

Believe_Inspiration_Stones

It takes inspiration, but requires motivation. Sounds like something you would hear at a life coaching seminar to change your life, and while it is a bit bumper sticker slogan, it is actually true. To make the move that will change your life both in terms of location and economics it always takes a dream (the inspiration), and throughout my life I have always been well acquainted with dreaming. Motivation has been more of a stranger to me, but more on that later.

Growing up in a small town in South Wales, UK, people are faced with two choices; stay and have a normal and perfectly healthy middle class life, or leave and have a different kind of existence. While most stay, I always dreamt of the “more” and wanted to explore the world that I loved so much when I was younger. I loved exotic locations I would see on TV and was particularly passionate about animals, so it stands to reason I wanted to leave a country where it rains all the time and the most wildlife you´ll see is a sheep or badger.

Ironically I have come to appreciate Wales for the small jewel it is in recent years, but perhaps that´s another story to be told. Anyway… I spent much of my youth and early adulthood deep in the dream of escaping my boring life when actually I was sleepwalking into being an engineer and living in the area I was born, probably one street from my parents.

The normal chain of events for someone becoming an expat and becoming financially free is meeting someone, a girl, a guy, you know how it goes. For me it was slightly different as the profession came first when I realized that I was a very capable writer while studying engineering in university. I left my course and waited a year to enroll in a different degree program for creative and professional writing, which I guess is why I am here now, writing this for you.

Then there was the girl (what? You thought there was not going to be one?). Of course, we fell madly in love and she helped give me something I had never had until then, motivation. She lived in Spain, me in the United Kingdom, and her life meant that if anyone was going to move, it would have to be me. Obviously the idea appealed to this 15 year veteran of dreaming about the big escape to another country.

My degree studies meant that any permanent move was off for about two years, which meant we would have to travel to see each other. My explorer’s heart finally got to do what it craved, and I traveled extensively over the next two years to various locations around the world to see my new girlfriend. The seed had been planted and as they say, I got the bug. I now wanted to travel more, so in-between the times I would see my partner I would travel to other places, and even came up with a few grand adventures (again, another story).

One fact I am mildly proud of is that I have flown on a plane countless times, but have always traveled alone, I have never been with a companion on a flight. I wear that as a sort badge of honor to show off my nomad tendencies, but I doubt anyone actually is that impressed by it.

My now fiancée is from Argentina and just as the move to Spain was shifting into gear she had to move back to her homeland permanently. That was no issue really, I would just move to South America instead, but what would I do for a job?

The truth is, the idea of becoming financially independent did not occur to me at this point. By the way, I do not class financially independent as being rich, if that´s what it means, where´s all my money? Instead I class it as having the freedom of profession to be able to live anywhere and generate the same income. At that time four years ago I sat a number of TEFL teaching courses which allow you to work as an English teacher in foreign countries, this I thought would be my career in Argentina.

This was just a little concerning because on those courses I was a frankly terrible teacher who passed because, well everybody passes. I arrived in Argentina pretty sure I would not be a teacher and by that point not speaking a word of Spanish. What possible career could await me I thought, but then I found the courage to explore my talent.

I decided I would write for a living and through the days and months I built up a portfolio by doing painstaking jobs until I had a reputation in some circles as a good freelance writer. I now work full-time doing that and am developing a publishing business and get a good if unspectacular income here in Argentina. I work from home, I largely work when I want to, and if I was inclined to I could move to a different location tomorrow with ease.

So what´s the moral of my story? Well, I guess it is that the inspiration is fine, without it you will never get the independence of location and finances. However, don´t dream too long and instead find the motivation, find your path to achieve your dreams, because trust me, even though there may be a few stumbles, you do have a path.

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Turning my life upside down

Deck chairs by the beach. Perfect office space.

Southern Thailand, I can’t imagine a more beautiful office space…

A roller coaster. The most adequate description of my life over the last four years. My decision to break free and take control of my destiny came as a result of a series of unexpected events, that led me from Australia, to Thailand, to Denmark, and back again to Thailand.

The first step is to begin at the beginning, and in the beginning there is always a girl. We met in a company training session in Copenhagen, and fell head-over-heels for each other. The flight back to Sydney was terrible, I knew where I wanted to be, and who I wanted to be with. Unfortunately for my parents, this was not in Australia! Two months later, with a freshly signed expatriation contract, I boarded a plane to her hometown of Bangkok. This first shift was painless. As an expat, your hand is held through every difficult moment associated with an international relocation. Visa, work permits, and even your belongings are taken care of, one day you just wake up realizing you are indeed quite far from home.

The second shift reflected another opportunity. To Copenhagen with us both on expatriation; tackling exciting projects, our life was surreal. However crunch time always hits, hitting hardest in the midst of the financial crisis. I found myself alone in Denmark after her contract was terminated, and 30% of our workforce had been made redundant. Looking to my colleagues, I realized that experience, ability, and skills counted for little. People whose life had been this company, counted for naught. My friends who had invested their entire careers in this business were now out of a job, out of options.

It was this point that was critical for me. During yet another round of farewell beers, I decided that I never wanted to be trapped in that position. I never wanted to give another person the ability to influence my life to such a degree. I never wanted to rely on anyone but myself. My financial future, my life, and ultimately my happiness needed to be under my control.

Handing in my resignation sealed my fate. I threw in the towel with the company that had trained me, where I had grown from an entry-level trainee to management, and built my career over the course of six years. It was not a decision made lightly, and my advice for anyone considering a digital nomad lifestyle is twofold. Have a back-up plan in place, and have some money behind you. Your savings will ensure you can put food on the table, and a back-up plan provides peace of mind during the transition. I had savings that could fund my life in Bangkok for 12 months, 18 at a stretch if my earnings were zero. This provided peace of mind to myself, as well as my family, who at this point were thinking that their son had lost the plot. I also talked in detail with my previous managers in Thailand, and had received an open invitation to return to my previous job. This greatly reduced the risk that involved, making it much easier to take my first leap.

Selling 99% of my belongings was a freeing experience, it opened my eyes to the materialism that is mind-numbingly forced down our throats in modern society. The scary part, is that most of us never even realize. My 20 kg baggage allowance on the return flight to Thailand did not leave room for sentiment, and I was brutal. I moved to Copenhagen with a twenty-foot container jammed full of my life, almost a ton of accumulated “stuff” that I had given value to. I returned with a suitcase.  

Touching down in the heat of Bangkok, I had no idea on my next steps. No plan, no 5-step guide.

I was definitely in the deep end, but I had never felt more alive.

Author: Travis Bennett

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