Have you ever had a dream come true? For the first time in my life, I’m seeing it happen.
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve started making plans for a dream I thought I’d never realize.
I first heard of digital nomadism from a podcast with Ali Abdaal and Lauren Ravazi. After that one podcast, the floodgates opened. I began seeing person after person who had left the US to live in places like Thailand and Bali. It looked liberating. It looked lonely. It looked exciting. It looked terrifying.
I picked up Paul Millerd’s The Pathless Path a couple weeks ago. I’ve never had a more difficult time putting a book down. While reading, I couldn't ignore an idea. An idea that I could do what he did. I could go to another country, work on the things I love, and live an exploratory life.
Every once in a while, I would put the book down and go to Airbnb just to quickly run the numbers. With more and more research, it became more and more realistic. This could be a life that I live. I couldn't help but think: this is a life worth living.
My reality distortion field
There’s an incredible scene in the biopic Steve Jobs in which Steve’s closest colleague, Joanna Hoffman, points out the reality distortion field that Steve experiences. He refuses to accept reality and persists in his vision. This can sometimes be a good thing, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. When looking at my own life, I couldn’t help but notice the significant reality distortion field.
For the past 19 years of my life, I’ve lived in America. I’ve grown up in a privileged family. I’ve had access to everything I could ever want. My “reality” is most people’s dream. And I did nothing to deserve it.
I have to leave. Now’s the time to explore.
Choosing work (that feels like play)
When people talk to me about college, I usually get two pieces of advice. The first is that college is the best time of my life and I should enjoy it. The second is that I have to keep up with my classes, get internships, and set myself up for success after graduation.
At first, they seemed paradoxical. They don’t anymore. When my work (currently being a creator) was what I loved, I could do both at the same time.
The interconnectedness of my career with what I love reminds me of mission-lock. I first heard of this idea from Mike Evans, cofounder of GrubHub. It’s when a business model's positive social impact and competitive advantage are the same. In other words, the only way for a business to become more profitable and grow is to have a bigger and better social impact.
In a similar vein, when you do what you love, the only way to advance your career is to do more of what you love.
So, this summer, the plan is to live in Bali for a month. It feels crazy to say. But I’ve never been more excited. This morning, while writing and thinking about the career I was pursuing, I teared up. I haven’t cried in a while. But I finally felt like I was on the right path — the path for me.
I don’t want to forget the reasons I’m starting, though. I need to keep in mind why I’m doing this. So, here are the reasons that I’m experimenting with a nomadic life this summer.
Doing what I love
The wisdom that we should simply follow our passion has largely been debunked. It’s more complex than that. If you want to create a career out of what you love to do, it all comes down to creating value.
When we create value, people are willing to pay for our work. They recognize that whatever you’re doing is enhancing their lives and they reward you for that. I’m building wealth through my writing. It’s a store of value with no marginal cost that people enjoy.
There are more awesome things I’d love to do. When it comes down to it, I want to build tools that help people flourish. And I want to lead a life that gives me the flexibility and resources to do so.
At the moment, I see living somewhere with low financial demands as an enabler as I get my feet off the ground.
Meeting people that inspire me
I lived in the same small town for almost 19 years of my life. I was always longing to get out and experience a new world. There was something magical about living in a city. When I finally got to college, it was more amazing than I could have ever imagined.
Great people, ideas, and stories everywhere. Every single day, I would meet a new person that would leave a lasting effect on my worldview. The vast majority of these people, though, came from similar backgrounds. They grew up in the US, often their parents are professors, and they came from middle- to upper-class families.
So if college was so great — with many people from similar backgrounds — imagine how amazing it will be in Bali. Digital nomads from across the world and locals with unique world views reflecting different economies, religions, and more. This will be fertile soil for ideas, and it will help me better understand how I fit into this world.
Meeting so many people from different backgrounds, it’s no question that I will better understand reality. I will have so many more stories to incorporate into my worldview.
I will see how I can create value for the world from a remote corner of the earth.
Armed with a laptop and a drive to create, what will I accomplish? I can’t wait to find out.
I know a few people who have taken some brilliant internships this summer — often paying upwards of 7k+ a month. Not me, though. I’ll be kickstarting my career as a creator and working on my own terms — I am throwing status out of the window. And how beautiful it is to make a decision, not for status but because you believe in it. In Bali, I hope to find what happiness means to me. I’ll be incredibly uncomfortable at times. I’ll feel like I’m falling behind. I’ll have to come face to face with my greatest fears and thus emerge as a stronger soul.
There’s a brilliant quote from Paul Millerd’s The Pathless Path that I keep returning to:
Professor and author Yuval Harari argued that “in order to keep up with the world of 2050, you will need not merely to invent new ideas and products, but above all to reinvent yourself again and again.” Nothing has helped me improve this skill more than living in other countries. People often ask me how to prepare for living abroad. My response? You can’t, and when you leave the place you know, you will inevitably face challenges. From forgetting my passport on the other side of Italy to a stray dog biting me in Taiwan and a parasite infection in Mexico, I’ve dealt with scary uncertainty head-on. I wouldn’t encourage you to seek out these experiences, but it does raise a question: if coping with these challenges increased my confidence, is comfort overrated?
I’ll answer that for him — hell yeah it is.
In Bali, I’ll fail over and over again. I can’t wait.