HOW TO BE A DIGITAL NOMAD
Ever thought about giving up your 9-5? Two years ago Sophie Everard quit her city-based job to become a surfing digital nomad. Here’s how.
The modern working world is going through somewhat of a metamorphosis. A generational change, whereby the ease of modern travel, digital platforms and work aids mean it’s easier than ever for both work and a personal life to co-exist harmoniously. But leaving the 9-5 grind can seem like a pipe dream to many of us, despite social media being rife with digital nomads illustrating the merits and virtues of their lifestyle.
Having lived the classic 9-5 within the confines of an office setting, two years ago I took a leap into the unknown, and embraced the nomadic freelance life. This followed a number of burnouts in the city, which made me take the plunge for my own wellbeing. This year my satellite offices have been anywhere from the jungle in Costa Rica, to my sister’s apartment in London, my Retreat HQ in Portugal or a hotel room in France during a surf competition.
Once I had developed enough of a skillset within my chosen field and determined that what I do could indeed be done remotely, I was confident to make the transition. There are an abundance of careers that can enable a digital nomad existence. So firstly you need to work out if your job or desired job allows for remote working, or whether your skill set can be transferred to a role that is nomadic?
I was keen to pursue my writing, while utilising my marketing, PR and sales background and becoming a qualified surf coach and PT, to launch my life-long dream of an all-empowering, women’s only surf and fitness retreat. Thus, after four months of travelling and surfing around the world after leaving my job in London, I was ready to make the transition. Knowing I had a business idea I believed in, and also with a jot of bravery, I launched Mad To Live Retreats.
Creating structure can be a great aid as the digital nomad life can change from one day to the next. Within the freelance industry there are highs, there are lows, there are times where work is busy, and times where it is quiet. I formulate a structure and personal goals to follow, which I find critical – and indeed so might others who have previously depended on that from an employer. Making daily, weekly or monthly to-do lists,
and an agenda for each day or week, can create a structure that allows for greater productivity.
It can be an interesting experiment to showcase to an employer – demonstrating how productive one can be if released from the shackles of the 9-5. Demonstrating productivity whilst taking this modern and progressive approach to working, and validating it with facts at the end of the week in terms of what was achieved, can be a great way to get an employer on side before making a request to be nomadic.
Those who make the transition can be overwhelmed by the lack of structure traditional roles offer: when becoming your own boss, it is essentially all down to you. You have to motivate yourself each day to achieve what is necessary, be tenacious, and put yourself out there to be a success. This can take on many forms depending on your career, but for those looking for clients, making use of digital nomad touch points, groups and meetings can be critical. They are an opportunity to search for business and meet likeminded people who have knowledge, ideas and creative buzz to share and inspire you.
Doug Stidolph, co-founder of Action Academy, believes that as a digital nomad it is critical to: “Push your comfort zone – life as a digital nomad is going to be full of uncertainties and stressful moments – prepare for them by keeping yourself on your toes. The clichéd line, ‘do something every day that scares you’, comes to mind.”
For many of us who have a love of surfing or outdoor pursuits, it is these sports and the encompassing lifestyle that characterises our life and brings so much happiness that can lead to more productivity. Knowing that I have a surf, hike or bike ride at the beginning or end of the day is something to look forward to and work towards or reward myself with. I then can sit down to my list of jobs, charged and invigorated by the fact I have participated in an activity that brings me so much physical and mental charge and clarity.
Surfers are a prime example of a solid community of digital nomads. Many lovers of action sports can be found to be roving graphic designers, writers, coders… they have a career that allows for remote working, or they have adapted their skill set to suit it. With the facility of carrying out work through the use of video calls and conferencing, a well-supported digital nomad community, social networks and online workforce platforms such as LinkedIn, the time is ripe to make that leap.