7 Sacrifices You Must Make as a Digital Nomad
Why cocktails on a beach in Bali isn’t EVERYTHING it’s made out to be.
Sipping cocktails on a beach in Bali as a digital nomad isn’t all that.
Trust me, I know. I’m here right now. In the heart of expat-central, the Bali beach town of Canggu.
Still, I don’t feel how everyone suggests I should feel like a successful digital nomad. I had to make a lot of sacrifices over the five-year journey to reach this point. It wasn’t all cocktails and butterflies. There were many bumps in the road and things I wish I knew before arriving here.
Here, I will breakdown the 7 things I had to give up to get to where I am now.
The sacrifices of a digital nomad
With as many freelancing gurus as there are today, it’s easy to get tricked into believing success can happen overnight. I’m here to tell you it can’t.
At least, don’t expect it to. In my case, it has been years in the making. I’ve only recently (thanks to the realizations COVID has brought me) started to slow down.
For the five years prior, I’ve been grinding on my digital nomad pursuit. Sometimes, working upward of 100 hours a week. There have been a hundred or more failures. And a proportionally small amount of successes.
You must be ready to give up your time. Many people believe the life of a digital nomad grants you extra time. The time you’ve lost in the corporate world. This isn’t true in the slightest. At least, not at the beginning.
When you work for yourself, you have to keep going until you’ve made it. Nothing is guaranteed to you.
2. Financial flexibility.
Earning your own income is a sweet thing. When you build a business from the ground up, the money you earn feels special.
But, oftentimes, you’ll be earning substantially less than what you made in the corporate world.
I remember my first earnings (after a year of working for $0) as a digital nomad/freelancer. I won a project that would earn me $400. I was so excited. This, after leaving a college internship with a monthly salary of $1,600.
It’s tough to cut back on the financial flexibility you’ve had your whole life, but it’s the only option.
Working for yourself, you have the possibility to create a scalable income. This basically means you can get what you give.
I’ve always been one to put my head down and grind if I’m inspired by my work. So, the thought of scalable income has always been attractive to me. Yet, the constant failures of starting your own business can drag down anyone.
What’s important is that you keep the same mindset you started with; making things work at all costs.
3. Family and friends.
This one is a bit obvious, but it must be said. You’ll miss your people back home.
Living life abroad has immeasurable upside. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require sacrifice. It’s difficult to receive the, “When are you coming home?” text message month-after-month.
To be honest, I don’t miss my home life. One of the biggest advantages somebody can give themselves is leaving the town they were born in. Still, I miss my people there. I miss the deep-seated, decades-long connections I’ve built with those people. Digital engagements aren’t the same.
4. Old interests.
You’ll have to give some old passions up when you move abroad. For me, it was sports. Not only watching sports but collecting it/ playing it.
I was obsessed with collecting memorabilia before I left home. My house was filled with it. But, when traveling and living out of a backpack, there’s no room for useless luggage. Sports collections are something I don’t even think about anymore.
Not only that, I’ve stopped playing sports — even recreationally. I also don’t watch as much on TV. I don’t follow along with my favorite teams.
This is not something I was forced to give up, but rather, it happened pretty naturally. As I moved abroad, I started to find new interests and my love (and the convenience) of sports began to fade. You have to be prepared to part ways with this sort of stuff.
To be blunt, everything about your life abroad will get more complicated.
Communication with locals, relationships back home, visas, healthcare. You name it, you’ll have to re-learn it, basically. So, in a way, you’re giving up the simplicity of a life you have built and made complacent.
It is all a part of finding your way in your new home. However, while some aspects become more complicated, a lot will become increasingly simple. It only takes time to re-learn your ways of living.
It’s frustrating at times. Those simple things can be so damn time-consuming or complicated. But, it’s what you signed up for.
You’ll have to give up your at-home routine when you choose the life of a digital nomad. You’ll have to give up consistency.
You either love it or hate it. Personally, ditching the routine wasn’t a sacrifice at all for me. In fact, that’s part of the reason digital nomadism called me in the first place.
Even so, it’s important to note that your life abroad will be chaotic 90% of the time (the other 10% will be chaotic but predictable chaos). You have to learn to love it.
Part of what makes traveling so full of wonder is the newness. When traveling once a year or when starting your digital nomad career, everything is brand new. It feels like an escape from the normal and it feels good.
But, over the years, if you stay on the road, the newness becomes the new normal. You start to get numb to the wonders of travel. It gets harder to recognize when a moment is special.
You realize you don’t have the same kind of memories you did at the beginning of your journey and you start to yearn for what it used to be.
One of the hardest sacrifices I’ve had to cope with through this digital nomad-ing journey is the loss of wonder. My travels don’t bring me alive like they used to. That comes with the territory of being an experienced traveler.
What sacrifices did I miss, nomads? Do you agree with some or all? I want to hear what your biggest sacrifices have been. Leave a comment in the response section!
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** This article was originally published at www.adamcheshier.com **