In June of 2015, I bought a one-way ticket to Stockholm for May 30, 2016. I remember that day vividly. I spent the entire Sunday staring at my laptop screen, adding the plane ticket to my cart, looking at the checkout page, refraining from clicking the submit button, freaking out with my friend Heesun, closing my laptop, and coming back to it… I was a whirlwind of emotions and back-and-forth thoughts. The thought of leaving everything behind and traveling the world had been on my mind for weeks, maybe months. But was I brave enough to actually do it?
After much debate, I finally made the purchase and there was no turning back.
I told myself in the event that I didn’t have the balls to quit my job and live abroad, I could just use the ticket as a short 1-to-2 week vacation. But as months went by, my confidence in my decision increased.
Fast forward 11 months later, and I’ve now put in my 2 weeks notice for my full-time position and am preparing for the world travels that lie before me.
But first let me explain why I’m doing this (sharing my abridged version below).
I’m planning to join the growing community of digital nomads to create a lifestyle change for myself.
I figured out what I really want in life: TIME. I want time to see the world, to create music, and to work on something meaningful. I want to have a discussion with someone in Nicaragua about their perspectives, or ask a Paris local about how they think life should be lived. I want to swim in the waters of the Maldives and bask in Earth’s beauty. I want to make music with people from all ends of the globe, and see the world from the rich to the poor and explore how I can help mitigate the economic disparity. I want to give people opportunities and inspire people to LIVE their dreams.
Instead I’ve been trading time for money. I’ve been spending 45 hours a week working for the man, trying to accept that life is supposed to be this way. That 5-15 days of paid time off is sufficient. I kept telling myself that my complaints are invalid and that I’m being ungrateful…that life requires us to work in an office for another 30 years.
But then I thought, what if there IS another way, and I just haven’t figured it out?
For those who love what they’re doing and have no complaints – don’t listen to my crap.
But after my 2014 solo Europe trip my life and perspectives sort of changed.
I fully realized how fleeting life is and what I was missing out on, and I started asking myself…what am I doing?! I began wondering if I would be proud of the life I had lived if I were laying on my deathbed. Does my degree at Berkeley and experience at a coveted tech giant really matter? What IS success? Is success a superficial concept? What is the purpose of my existence?!
I think the only way for me to answer my lingering questions is to take a chance. If I stay complacent and comfortable, I will never be able to build a life I want, and I’ll always have to wonder “what if?”. I decided that in order to make this dream of TIME a reality I needed to work my ass off. I stopped giving a fuck, and I started giving more fucks about making it happen.
I studied a lot. I read over 20-30 digital nomad/marketing/entrepreneurship books, joined communities, talked to nomads, and learned about how to generate passive income. Then, I began freelancing and working on multiple income streams. I was already racking up savings with 4 years of living at home, but I was now reducing expenses even more by spending my time working on projects instead of going out. 4-Hour Workweek, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and DigitalNomadWannabe were three resources that especially pushed me off my ass and made me realize that it’s all possible. I realized that location independence, and ultimately financial independence, are achievable through building online entities from ground up. As “Rich Dad Poor Dad” says, I needed to stop working for money and make money work for me. And what better way to figure it out while traveling the world?
Essentially quitting my job and living abroad as a digital nomad has one goal: maximizing my time on this planet Earth. Time and health are the main, most standard currencies over money. A $100 bill means different things to different people, but 100 years means the same thing for everyone: one lifetime. Life is short. Money can be made, but time cannot.
So what will my life abroad look like?
I can’t say I won’t be having an occasional margarita on the beach, but I envision most of my time will be spent on my laptop, working. I plan to stay at Wi-Fi friendly destinations on a monthly basis and work longer than full-time hours to turn my dreams into reality. I want to figure out the perfect balance between work and travel and attempt to prove that they can co-exist harmoniously rather than separately.
While I’m on this journey to pursue a lifestyle change for myself, I will never take my privileged life for granted. I’m really grateful that I’m in a position where I am safe, secure, and can dream of bigger opportunities. But in order for me to grow I believe I need to challenge myself and leave my comfort zone. Those who know me understand my motto has always been to “live, love, and inspire”. And in order for me to live out my motto I have to see this journey through.
Maybe I’ll come back to the Bay Area, California after a year and decide to take a day job. Maybe I’ll “fail” (but is there really such a thing?). Or maybe I will explore the world indefinitely and never look back. Who knows what’s going to happen?
But I can’t wait to find out. 🙂