On becoming a digital nomad

If I was living the entrepreneurial dream, this article may have started off differently.

Beach(insert obligatory beach shot) #phoneoffice #digitalnomad #livingthedream #beachoffice #Tuesday #nofilter

But because I’m still struggling, still trying to make this all work, only just really starting out with this lifestyle change, this article will be more real than that.

I could have said “technology is so amazing that I can take my family to the beach and run my business. That’s work life balance!”

The reality is, I had a revelation that my business couldn’t run without me (or more accurately, without us) and so holidays felt like an impossibility. If we tried to get away, I’d flinch every time the mobile phone rang. I’d come to resent my business for always intruding on our lives – this wonderful, flexible business with our marvellous customers that I would give up in a heartbeat for 4 weeks of phone-off annual leave. Except I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. Not now when, more than ever, it sparkles with possibility.

Instead, I’ll say “for the sake of my mental health, we decided to try two nights away, still close enough to home if our customers needed us.” We rented a cheap AirBnB so we could bring our dog with us, in a tiny beachside community in the middle of winter. And I embraced a new perspective. That a digital nomad-esque lifestyle could make it possible for us to take the work calls, meet the writing deadlines and keep business running and that all of this is a GOOD THING, sprinkled amongst early morning beach walks and afternoon board games. Without any flinching.

So did it work?

Parts of it did.

The writing, when the kids were in bed.

The group Skype call with Microsoft’s head office (on 2 bars of mobile internet).

Setting Outlook to Work Offline, and Download Headers (Send/Receive, Download Preferences). Then connecting to send the things from my Outbox picked up only the headers of my new messages, which took much less data and was faster on a very slow mobile connection.

The cheesy family photo after the beach sunrise.

Watching my husband and the girls playing card games.

And parts of it didn’t.

Tony’s connection being too weak to do some totally online, remote work.

The restlessness that I have so much to do and I’ve sacrificed productive hours at my desk.

The back ache from typing from a too-high dining room table.

BackyardInsert the reality of the view on my conference call, minus the low flying plane overhead.

This is not a pity party. I am grateful to be in a position where we can makes some changes to our work and our lives. This is the stuff that people wish they could leave their jobs and do.

After returning home and debriefing with mentor, I have a few “big rocks” to put into place that should make the next attempt better.

It’s a work in progress. Isn’t life, always?


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