Before I graduated from college, I was offered a job at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington DC. I immediately accepted, not only because it was the only job offered to me, but because it checked so many boxes.
- Looks great on my resume. Check.
- Good pay. Check.
- Government benefits. Check.
- Makes me sound fancy to my Midwestern family. Check.
I just knew that this job was going to be boring. (Shocker, right!) In fact, the day I accepted the job I knew in my gut that I would need more. More creativity. More excitement. More… anything. So, I did what any reasonable person would do.
I started a blog.
Blog Turned Business
The blog has morphed throughout the years. I started blogging on a free platform just for me, as a creative outlet and side project that forced me to stop watching TV and do something after work.
I didn’t have readers or expectations. There wasn’t any pressure to create—it was just a passion project that I got to keep for myself. Then, I bought a domain and started producing regular content. Finally, I turned that blog into my first online business: life coaching and digital products.
After coaching for over a year, I noticed a lot of coaches were running their business from exotic places all over the world. They were successful too—using technology to meet with their clients, just like I was doing in DC.
I had to ask myself if I could do this from anywhere in the world, why was I living in one of the most expensive cities in America?
Beginning the #DigitalNomad Life
After some thinking, planning, and soul-searching, I took a leap of faith on myself and my business: I dropped out of graduate school, quit my job, sold everything I owned, and moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, a hub for digital nomads. I walked off the plane in the steaming hot, humid country and it was official: I was a digital nomad.
For the next two years, this was my life. I was traveling the world and running my business from my laptop. In the first year, I traveled to 17 countries, launched a second business, learned to scuba dive, helped a friend launch her startup, and set foot on 5 continents.
I spent the majority of my time in Chiang Mai and Ubud, Bali. I kept a routine schedule, working 6-8 hours a day, meeting people in the evenings, and exploring any time I could. I allowed my body to function as it wants, and the night owl in me came out quickly. Because my time was completely mine, I scheduled twice-weekly 90-minute massages (for only $15!) and made sure I saw all of the local attractions. Yes, I wanted to feel like a local, but I didn’t want to miss out on anything either.
My second year as a digital nomad was much slower. I only traveled to 4 countries, spent more time with my family, grew my second business, and transitioned from the fast-paced life of a full-time traveler to one that focused on my work and living with more intention.
For me, intention looks like spending my time in places that matter to me emotionally. (I have the privilege of saying this as someone who has been to 40+ countries.) Intention isn’t about accepting the first (or any) job that lands on your plate; it’s about choosing projects that matter or have a mission that aligns with my personal values.
Creating a Life of Intention
Traveling the world as a digital nomad is as magical and romantic as it sounds. You have complete freedom and get to do more in a short period of time than most people do in their entire lives. You can live anywhere on the planet as long as there’s a solid internet connection. Combine good WiFi with a steady stream of work and you have just created the perfect solution to making the digital nomad lifestyle a reality.
A happy consequence of being a digital nomad is the personal development that naturally happens. When you are traveling the planet alone, you spend a lot of time thinking, reflecting, and assessing who you are. You’re learning lessons about yourself along the way—either following your gut feeling that something is missing from your life or the ever important decision of choosing a 90-minute massage over a 60-minute massage.
The digital nomad life isn’t for everyone, but I’m grateful for my opportunity to live it.
At Don’t Panic, we’re more than just VAs. We’re artists, creatives, moms, travelers and more. Are you interested in learning more about how to become a virtual assistant? Contact us here for more information about joining our bad ass team of VAs.