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Why I’m A Digital Nomad, and Why I Quit My Full-Time Job

I wrote a post about why I quit my full-time job on MeWantTravel. In this Digital Nomad Quest post, however, I want to further explore 1. my thoughts on the rat race 2. why I’m a digital nomad 3. how I plan to support myself while abroad.

Digital nomads are defined as people who can live anywhere they want by working online.

And I decided I wanted to be one after my life-changing travel adventure.

In 2014, I went on a solo Europe trip that transformed my thoughts on life and the world. I couldn’t remember a time when I felt more alive. Talking to random locals and travelers and surrounding myself in new worlds, I was extremely inspired. Once I came home, I decided I wanted to figure out how to support myself while living abroad to make it a permanent reality.

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I’m now on a journey to achieve location and financial independence while living abroad.

Before you think, oh great, another one of these stories, let me explain why I’m doing this. Here’s why I’m a digital nomad and why I quit my full-time job:

The Downfalls of the Rat Race

I remember when I first started working 4 years ago. It took merely 2 weeks for me to say “screw this”. It seemed ridiculous to me that people we were programmed to work 9 AM to 6 PM every day for 35 years.

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Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m privileged and I sincerely appreciate the opportunities I have to be able to dream bigger this way. This is actually what I’ve battled with throughout my 4 years of working full-time – the idea that I shouldn’t be complaining about something that society has accepted to be a part of daily life. I was feeling guilty and feeling ungrateful.

This comment on FiFighter’s repost resonated with me: “Taking risks pays off. Once you have worked for yourself, you can no longer be an employee. Be careful of the ones that say you are lucky. They [] are too risk-adverse (or lazy) to do it themselves.

Though I’m fortunate, I know TONS of people who make excuses, never pursue their dreams, and then call others “lucky” when they succeed.

I really don’t want to be one of these people. I want to take a risk and make shit happen.

First, let’s talk about the rat race and do the math:

The average person trades 8 hours a day (maybe more) for money. The average person should also sleep 8 hours a night, and spend about 1-2 hours commuting, and 1 hour eating dinner. This totals to around 18-19 hours a day. So in a 24-hour day, you’re using up 18-19 hours to complete all your other tasks, then given only 5-6 remaining hours to yourself. Essentially you’re LIVING less than 1/4 of your life (minus weekends).

This has always raised a red flag for me. In 2016, how can one POSSIBLY think this is the way to live. I get it, if it were 30 years ago, I’d be head over heels about working a secure, stable position. But in this generation, we’ve been given the power of the internet! We have the opportunity to pursue our dreams.

In this day and age, anything is possible.

You just have to think smart. BTW, this is one of my favorite motivational videos that solidifies my thought process…

We shouldn’t be thinking about short term gains. We should be BUILDING something and working on our bigger passion projects. Let’s face it – these passion projects take months to years to show signs of success. If we’re focusing on jobs that can pay short-term we’re going to put off the thing that will really make us happy and let us be our own boss. And the older we get, the less risks we’ll take because of certain responsibilities that come into our lives.

We are driven by fear and desire…

Why do we get stuck in the 9-5 cycle for decades?

Rich Dad, Poor Dad has a great explanation of this. The average person has a tendency to spend most of their hard-earned income on things they don’t need. Once we get into the workforce, we’re slaving away so much that we want to reward ourselves after work. We gift ourselves with a daily espresso, a happy hour session here and there, and a fancy dinner once a week. Then we start buying fancy Chanel bags and the latest sports cars. We are driven by desire, and because of this we lose the will to save money. We’re constantly spending for nicer things in order to 1. reward ourselves for working so hard 2. show off our latest gadgets and gizmos to society. It’s like a little badge to brag about, saying “look everyone, I am making a decent amount of money so I can afford these nice things!”

After desire, comes fear. We might start dreading work, but we are too scared to leave. We want the nice things that a job can give us, even if we aren’t happy. These nice things give us some ephemeral joy – but it’s not TRUE happiness.

And that’s why I quit my full-time job. I’m sick of being in a cycle that only ends when I’m too old to enjoy life. I can’t put my life on hold for 35 years, only to retire at 60-65 when I don’t have the energy to do anything anymore. My 20’s are my prime years! I need to use them while my body and mind are still in shape.

Why I’m a Digital Nomad

So obviously, I could just live at home and work on my projects. Why have I decided to pursue the digital nomad life and live abroad?

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1. To Feel Alive Again

The last time I really felt alive was 2014 in Europe. Globetrotting around the world will allow me to LIVE while hustling hard. My motto has always been to live, love, and inspire, and I feel like traveling month-to-month in different countries will push me towards this goal.

2. Geographical Arbitrage

As you may or may not know, I live in the bay area, California. Currently the living costs are unbelievably high. Numbeo shows that the average cost of a 1 bedroom apartment in the city center is around $3,300. That is insane!

A $1 bill can go so much farther in most other countries. I’ve decided to stay in low-cost locations so I can reduce expenses and continue to save money (without sacrificing happiness).

3. To Prove Work and Travel Can Happen Simultaneously

I think most people believe that A) travel is expensive B) they can’t maintain this lifestyle while building businesses. I’m here to prove that it’s all possible with a ton of hard work and smart thinking.

It’s going to be a difficult adventure but it’s already been paying off since I left for Europe on May 30.

How I Will Make Money Abroad

This is what my blog is about :). I am going to showcase exactly the steps I’ll take to grow my passive income channels.

For now, I have a lot of projects going on/am planning to pursue:

  1. Freelancing: I am currently still doing marketing freelance work for a client.
  2. Part-time work: Though I quit my full-time position, the company has offered me a chance to work remotely, part-time.
  3. Social Media Writing: I am a part of this company that lets me make $1 per social media post. I plan to work on this from time to time to help me with costs, but I don’t want to spend most of my time on it.
  4. Etsy: I plan to put up at least 100 listings (of digital downloads) and build my shop into something that people will frequent.
  5. Kindle: I had an extreme goal of writing 40 kindle books on Amazon. We shall see how that goes.
  6. Blogging: I’m hoping to blog at least weekly with DNQ and MWT. I’d like to become a trusted source for people who want to follow in my footsteps! It would be awesome to succeed and start helping others make it happen.

My goal is to make every single minute of my life meaningful. I don’t want to look forward to Fridays and dread Mondays ever again.

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Life is fleeting. Sometimes I think about my parents getting old, and I get sad and scared. I feel like we don’t think about death much because it seems far away, but it’s what’s going to happen to all of us eventually. And that’s why every minute of your life matters. Life is a PRIVILEGE. We need to treasure each moment and use our time on Earth wisely.

If you’re happy with your life, happy with your office job, and have zero complaints, you have won. You are succeeding in life when you are happy doing what you love and being a positive influence on your community. But if you have even the slightest inkling of dissatisfaction, do something about it. There’s no point in living anyone else’s life but your own. 

 

6 Comments

  1. Awesome post! what you have done and are attempting to accomplish now are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. I applaud you for taking a chance on life and doing your part to spread the message of an “alternative” path towards happiness so that others can see what else is indeed possible out there. Truth is, as you get older, one’s appetite for taking “risks” and leaps of faith drops off precipitously.

    Unless we are cognizant of “maximizing each and every day” and remembering the need to “feel alive” regularly, that curiosity and passion for life inevitably starts to wane. The Corporate workplace appears innocuous at first, but with enough time, it becomes tough for even the most spirited and determined to not give way to the status quo and routine nature way of doing things that structured life constantly reinforces…

    For instance, give a bunch of kids some Legos and an instruction manual and tell them to build the design. Try as you may to get them to follow through, you’ll still end up with a million different designs… Present that same task to a room full of your typical corporate adults, and you’ll most likely end up with the same intended design, followed through and constructed verbatim, to the very last step… In one case, the sky’s the limit and the rules were meant to be broken… In the latter, they can’t even imagine any other way, shape, or form than the intended that would be possible.

    Why is that? Just like a person needs to exercise to stay fit, they also need to regularly work on their creativity and ingenuity skills or else that ends up drying up as well… But when the rat race has you busy 24/7, 365, you’ll probably never even notice the subtle changes until it’s probably too late…

    As you mentioned, life is fleeting. The best we can do is recognize that fact EARLY on and prioritize and position ourselves to best maximize our ONE life. The sooner the better…

    For myself, I’ve been an “adult” for the past 10+ years, but in all honestly, I’m sick of that life and I am very much looking forward to just being a “kid” again… for the rest of my life.

    Screw the rules! 🙂

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Yes!!! Your comment should be a new FiFighter post 😀 haha

  2. Tom nguyen Tom nguyen

    I have never any Asian girl have courage like you.
    Are you Korean?
    Nice post!
    T Nguyen

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Haha, I’m Chinese. Thanks!

  3. Didn’t know FiFighter was such an inspiration! I think he’s around 30-32 though no? Was there some particular catalyst at 25 where you just had to do it? Maybe it’s kinda like your b-school 2-year see what happens kinda moment?

    You bring up a good point about the Bay Area. B/c it is so expensive here, it makes traveling everywhere else easier! I’ve been in SF since 2001 and have seen prices rise about 90% since for rent and own.

    Sam

    • digitalnomadquest digitalnomadquest

      Yes! The bay area is craaazy. And FiFighter was an inspiration cause we both were on the same page about 9-5’s! Lol. And I guess 25 = quarter-life crisis = if I don’t do it now I will never do it. We’ll see what happens as this journey continues!

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