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My Highlights of 2016 and Goals for 2017

I can’t believe 2016 is wrapping up. While I’m seeing tons of memes on my newsfeed joking about how disastrous the year was, I try to refrain from reflecting on a year negatively. Progress is progress, whether it be ups or downs. I’m always working towards being better – and if there were any struggles or obstacles, these hardships only make me a stronger person.

My friend Mike hit me with some good Mark Manson quotes from his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck:

  • “If we follow the do something principle, failure begins to feel unimportant. When the standard of success becomes merely acting – when any result is regarded as progress and important, when inspiration is seen as reward rather than prerequisite – we propel ourselves ahead. We feel free to fail, and that failure moves us forward.”
  • “Action is always within reach. And with simply doing something as your only metric for success – well, then even failure pushes you forward.”

In this case, every time we do something, we are successful. And we should view each year like this. It’s about the journey, right?  On your deathbed, you don’t want to look back realizing you’ve lived each day waiting for the future. If we forget about the journey, we’re going to forget to savor each and every day before we die.

2016 “Discomforts”

To be honest, 2016 has to be one of the best years of my life, and definitely the craziest. My whole life had been in comfort (e.g. I had lived in the same place for 24 years of my life). It’s not a bad thing, but I knew real growth could only come from a little bit of discomfort. So this was the first year of real change.

greece introspection

Of course, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows – there were downs (as you have read on my blog), and I’ll list the “downs” here:

  • Pre-nomad days fear
  • Physical pain/challenges like extreme heat, exhaustion, almost getting pick pocketed, and getting lost
  • 2-3 cases of loneliness
  • Fear of failure
  • Loss of active income gigs
  • Anxiety issues

But there’s nothing I regret, because each of these occurrences make me stronger and more resilient. I’m realizing this more and more. Through a lot of this journey, my emotions had gotten the best of me when they shouldn’t have. When it comes to coping with negative emotions, it’s all easier said than done. But it’s all a work in progress, and I think the more I experience, the more I’ll realize “who gives a fuck”. Life isn’t all about me. It’s bigger than me. And my emotions are temporary.

I think it’s crucial to build this strength, because when shit really hits the fan you will be able to handle adversity better. And of course I’ve learned and matured so much just from the challenges alone.

Highlights of 2016

Now I will talk about the highlights. There are lots to name!

1. Quit My Job – Feeling More Aligned

I think something that bothered me in the past was that working full-time in an office made me feel like my actions didn’t align with my values and beliefs.  It felt like I was doing everything backwards. I was giving up time for money when time was so much more important. I guess it sounds pretty ungrateful (complaining about work)…I mean I don’t regret the time spent working as I needed it for the initial money and experience. But because I valued time, freedom, and living life to the fullest so much I knew I had to make some type of change, even if it meant taking substantial risks.

office life

Now that I’ve removed this conflict I feel more inner peace in a way. Though it’s going to be hard and there will be ups and downs, I feel the work I’m doing to achieve financial independence is more aligned with my life goals.

2. New Homies

Back home, I have close friends and I still talk to them all the time. But I felt like I wasn’t really able to talk to anybody about the side of me that wanted to pack up and see the world while working on passive income. So while I was working full-time I started to talk less because I found the journey and hustle was all I could talk about. I didn’t want to bother others with my incessant passions when they weren’t feeling the same. Now that I’ve left and made close friends along the way, I have homies I can talk to who get this side of me.

digital nomads

3. The Memories

While in Hong Kong this month, I find myself reminiscing about my journey all the time. At the beach the other day I was thinking about my first month when my flatmates and I drove down to the southern tip of Greece to play at the beach near the Temple of Poseidon.

athens greece

Temple of Poseidon

These feelings creep up randomly. And even if I tell the stories to friends, I can’t really explain the feelings I felt when I was exploring Monastiraki at night overwhelmed by the view of the Acropolis right next to me. Or the feeling of jamming with a band that was signed by Universal while I was in Bucharest. In ways, I feel like I’ve experienced more this year than the past 4 years combined. Each of these memories are precious to me and are mine to feel forever.

4. Learning About Myself…

I can’t even write down everything I’ve learned. But I will list a few of the main lessons:

  • Full realization of my privilege
  • Full realization of the opportunities in the world
  • Life will throw curveballs at you and you can’t worry about stuff you can’t control
  • Do what your gut tells you
  • Live in the moment (but still with direction) cause shit doesn’t always go as planned anyway
  • Keep challenging yourself because that’s where the most growth happens
  • Adversity creates strength in that you can handle your emotions better
  • Everyone has problems and emotions – it’s all about how you react
  • A lot of your life is in your control and you can’t blame others
  • Keep meeting people and learning perspectives
  • Give less fucks
  • In a world of constant change as a digital nomad you have to “look for constants” to help with loneliness
  • When you have lots of freedom the hard part is balancing your life – you have to make an effort to do it (e.g. you have to go out and make nomadic friends even if you’re introverted, or else it could be too easy to sink into your own thoughts)
  • You meet more like-minded people when you’re going after your goals and making your actions align with your values. You are what you attract!
  • Everything new feels good and exciting, until you adapt to it – that’s when the real test kicks in about what you love (this can be about the digital nomad journey or even when you stay in a place for a month vs. a week)

5. Valuing Companionship A Bit More

I’ve always been quite self competent and independent. I never really needed companionship that much. I thought it’d be nice, but I would look around me and see people being “pulled down” by relationships. They would forget that they’re their own being and forget to strive for their personal goals. They would retreat from hanging out with other friends. And the partner becomes the ultimate goal. I didn’t want that. I mean of course there would be some sacrifices like in all relationships, but whoever I would commit to has to make sense in my life and make me want to be better (and vice versa)…a healthy relationship with 100% trust, less distraction and more motivation, and more inspiration to just grow and be better. So because of this I’ve always been picky and focused on improving myself rather than spending my energy looking for a companion.

Santorini Greece

Then my mid-20’s came along and more and more people were getting into relationships. There was almost this societal pressure as life became more about career and relationships. It’s easy to forget there are so many other parts to life – like travel, experiences, helping others, friendships, dreams, and goals.

Because of this I wanted to nomad it out to understand what I wanted without the pressures. I wanted to be in tune with my own feelings and reduce the outside noise. I also wanted to see if the journey would make me appreciate having a partner.

Now that I’ve been abroad and am fulfilling more of my life purpose, I feel more willing to find someone who complements me. I’d like to share my experiences with someone! I knew that if I just got in a relationship with someone because of external pressures, it wouldn’t be for the right reasons and I’d start asking “what if…” I wouldn’t be grateful enough. So now that my life actions and values are aligning (though I haven’t reached any ultimate goals yet) – I would totally be open to someone joining the ride.

I’ve gone on dates and had some “summer romances” as I’ve traveled, and I’ve been learning more and more about what I want in the long run. Well…I already kind of knew, but the more experience I have the more I fully internalize it. So yeeeeah I’m actually currently seeing someone and it’s been good, so we’ll see how that continues!

6. But Also Realizing Companionship Isn’t Everything

A lot of us have a tendency to want to look for “the one”. And when they think they have found this person, they hold on and forget to see the warning signs. This was kind of the teachings of this lady I met in Lisbon (I talk about it at the end of this post).

However, remembering that you’re your own individual is crucial. A healthy relationship can only be formed from 2 healthy individuals (another learning described in this Mark Manson article, lol and I totally recommend reading it).

So if something doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. All you can really do is say “this person is the one – for now”. I think the right way to approach dating is to commit when you can see a future, but not expect the person to BE the future, and not to dream of the future all the time.

7. Understanding What Mindfulness Really Is

I used to merely define mindfulness as being aware. This is true…but now I’m understanding the concept a bit more and the actions behind it. I’m learning to ask “why” whenever I feel something. I’m learning to vocalize it or write out how I feel. And I’m also learning how to meditate and let certain feelings go. I think that’s the most important part. Being aware – but then letting go of any uncontrollable feelings rather than overanalyze them.

This article helped me a lot: Your Two Minds (another Mark Manson masterpiece). Learning to realize there is a part of your mind that holds thoughts that you can’t really change is crucial. You can’t change how you feel. But you can control how you react to your thoughts and feelings.

If you read the article you’ll see he emphasizes that there’s a part of your mind you can control (the observing mind) versus a part of your mind that you can’t (the thinking mind). If you make it a habit to distinguish these two parts and be mindful of the feelings you have, you can learn to change how you react to feelings and “let go” better.

8. 25 Countries Visited!

I have now hit 25 countries by end of this year! This means I’m a quarter way into my 100 countries before 100 goal.

Some notable travel-related sights I visited include:

  • Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden
  • The Greek Islands (Santorini and Naxos)
  • The Acropolis in Athens, Greece
  • Lisbon and Porto, Portugal (I’ve always wanted to see where J.K. Rowling spent 2 years of her life…)
  • “Dracula’s Castle” in Brasov, Romania
  • The Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania
  • The DMZ in South Korea…Learned more of the history behind South Korea and North Korea and the horrors behind it.
  • East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany
  • Big Ben in London, UK

red beach santorini

Red Beach in Santorini

9. Worked on Some Music Videos I’m Excited About

I’ve released my latest music video and also worked on another collaboration in Korea:

music video seoul korea

I’m quite proud of my new music, and I hope to keep improving and making better work as time goes on. I felt some conflict when creating music while focusing on passive income. It’s always hard to figure out your focus when you have strong, diverse passions. But ultimately it solidified my purpose: to free up time through passive income, to do/create things I love including music. I am more motivated than ever!

10. Notable Passive Income Gained

Okay, I said I wanted to hit $4,000 a month passive income by end of year this year…which I obviously did not achieve. But making around $600-700 by end of year was enough proof for me to go all out for 2017. LET’S GO!

Goals of 2017

So now, I will list my 2017 goals…

  • $10,000/month passive income…(yikes. I have this for October but hey if I can complete this even by end of year 2017 I would be EXTREMELY happy!)
  • Publish my own book that I’m proud of. Has to be at least 200-300 pages. I’ve been trying to work on a book about location and financial independence. With this blog I’ve been kind of building it as I go in a sense, and I’ve already sort of organized my table of contents. I get a lot of inquiries about the journey and how to go about doing passive income, so it seems there is interest. Just typing this goal gives me a bit of anxiety though, hahaha, but it is what it is. If your goals don’t scare you, they’re not big enough!
  • Create 1 courseI’ve always wanted to create a Udemy course and a master course on my blog. We’ll see if I can accomplish this.
  • Visit 30 countries. Seems achievable from the 25 from last year.
  • Drop ship or Amazon FBA 1 or 2 products. If you saw my series about Amazon FBA – I failed haha because I couldn’t get ungated in the category I wanted to sell in. I want to get back into attempting physical products, whether that be from Amazon FBA or finding a manufacturer and drop shipper.
  • Get Fiverr workingI tried Fiverr this year but I haven’t succeeded. It’s hard getting your gigs ranked and discovered by people. Soooo, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and I can’t achieve this goal :(.
  • Get more in touch with nature while abroad. While traveling I haven’t really immersed myself in nature. I’ve been in cities, essentially, hacking away at my computer. For some reason I feel like immersing myself in nature will help me in some spiritual/mental/emotional way. We’ll see.
  • Exercise at least 2x a week. Lol. We’ll see. Ahahaha.

2016 highlights and 2017 goals

This whole year has been crazy. Just crazy. It was fun but don’t be fooled – I have been working my ASS off. Anyway…I’m just feeling tons of nostalgia right now, reminiscing about every leg of the trip. I just can’t believe everything I’ve done so far, and I’m so grateful. I’m also excited to see what next year has in store for me.


  1. Hey there! I think we have a lot in common. I’m also in my twenties and working at a tech giant. I’m dreaming of quitting and making the leap into entrepreneurship and passive income. I’m scared that I won’t get to FI though and that I should just “suck it up” for a few more years. I say this with jest because I realize my privilege to have this income right now. I’ve been making around $400 per month on my blog (before expenses) which is encouraging. I look forward to following your journey.

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Hey Julie – I am reading your blog now and it is so great. $400/month is huge! Any advice on making money through blogging?

      I totally get the fear that comes with it. Right now I’m in Chiang Mai, Thailand and I’m realizing how much further 1 USD can go in places like this. My current passive income can support my living expenses here. I don’t know if living in other parts of the world is something you’re interested in at all, but I think that alone has given me much more motivation!

      • Thank you for the kind words about the blog (and for the encouragement on seeking low-cost of living places)! I’m totally going to email you so we can trade passive income tips!

        • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

          Yay sounds great!

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