Twelve years as a digital nomad

(I’ve written this article in a little different format than usual as I wrote it for Medium as well, which prefers this kind of format. The video is much more informal and goes into personal topics too, though it misses many of the tips I give in the article.)

My journey started at around the age of 21 when I came across inspirational books on a positive mindset and wealth generation. At that time I was living in the UK as a call center worker (I’m originally from Lithuania).

Books such as “Think and Grow Rich”, “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and “The Four-Hour Work Week” changed my understanding of money and transformed my mindset from that of an employee to that of an entrepreneur. 

If you’re still doing what mommy and daddy said for you to do (go to school, get a job, and save money), you’re losing. 

— Robert Kiyosaki

Inspired by these wonderful writings I started blogging about my attempts to improve myself. I also squeezed into my busy schedule (between my job and writing) attending events to be with like-minded people or with those who have already achieved their goal of freedom. 

Six months later, my blog was generating regular income. I must be honest with you and tell that I was lucky to be on the trend — at that time I was totally into new-age teachings so I started writing and vlogging about this topic, and my business boomed. 

This taught me that it’s important to follow trends if you want to grow your business fast. 

Soon enough I realized that were I to move to some cheap country, I would have all my expenses covered with the regular income that I was making from blogging and vlogging. 

So I did just that. I asked the Universe to show me the best place to move to, and messages started reaching me about India. I took it as a sign to go there.

People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

— Timothy Ferris

I applied for a six-month tourist visa. Having found out about it, my Indian neighbor told me that I would return after a month of staying there, so there was no need for such a long visa. 

But what happened was that when I returned to the UK it was exactly after six months, and I returned only to apply for another Indian visa. 

When I landed there the first time, I knew I was in the right place. From day one I fell in love with the country, which felt strangely familiar to me. 

Twelve years later I’m still in this romance. This was the country I lived in most of the time, though I traveled to many other countries too. 

Lessons I learnt as a digital nomad

These whole twelve years of self-employment taught me too much to be ever able to explain. It was the best school I’ve ever attended. 

Here I’m sharing some of the most important things to understand about life as a digital nomad. 

1. No place is perfect.

Firstly, it’s important to understand that no place is without any problems. Successful bloggers and vloggers often love to show the best pieces of their lives and they never talk about the downsides. 

Yet downsides there always are. For example, even if you live on the most beautiful island, the inhabitants of such places are very simple, such as farmers or sellers with whom you have nothing in common. So you don’t have anyone like-minded to talk with. 

Were you to live on such an island, the heat will get to you, and ants and mosquitoes will be your daily annoyance. 

So although I would never trade my self-employment for a job, just because you have the freedom of time and movement, it doesn’t mean your life will be all perfect. 

2. People who have too much free time often spend it harmfully.

Throughout my years of roaming the world (mostly in Asia, as I love it), I got to meet similar people who were free to do what they pleased with their time. 

However, many of them were into smoking weed, would attend parties frequently and would get drunk, or would waste their time playing cards and in similar ways. 

So this made me realize that for some people having too much free time is actually not beneficial as they gravitate towards time-wasting and destructive activities. 

3. You will be the only person responsible for everything.

You cannot become successful as a self-employed person unless you learn to accept responsibility for your actions. 

People who are employees tend to complain and always point the finger at another. But this habit is not found amongst the most successful.

When you work for yourself you cannot pass the blame to someone else. It’s your fault. And sometimes it really sucks to always be the one solving all the problems. But this is also what keeps improving you and what makes you stronger. 

You are the only problem you will ever have and you are the only solution. 

— Bob Proctor

4. You will have to spend a lot of time alone.

You will have to spend a great deal of time alone so you better like your company. 

Since I like my company and I’ve been a loner since my childhood, that’s not a problem. But this could be a big problem for naturally social people. 

You will have to work alone, and if you’re traveling the world, even in your free time you may not have anyone to go out with. I know some digital nomads struggling with the sense of isolation, so you need to be mentally prepared for it. 

It’s lonely at the top, but I sure like the view. 

— Charlie Sheen

5. People will not understand you as your mindset changes.

If you break out of the life of the masses, you will no longer think like them. 

Therefore you will feel isolated in conversations. There will be no one like-minded unless you are lucky enough to meet a fellow digital nomad. 

Yet even then, because these people are so free, they develop in their own unique ways so they are not likely to think in a similar way to you either. 

(…) you are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. 

— Timothy Ferris

6. Too frequent travels mess with your mind.

I was traveling so frequently that one time I woke up on a moving train having no idea where I was. It’s the scariest feeling ever. 

When you travel too frequently you lose the sense of any routine and this is reflected in the mind — sometimes it’s in a blank or confused state. 

When I had this experience I stopped traveling so frequently and tried to establish some sort of routine in any country or place I stayed. 

Advice for those just starting

There are many things that you have to know to start this journey and become successful. Here I’m mentioning some less-discussed points which are very important. 

1. Know yourself.

Know your abilities. Know how you are perceived. Be balanced — don’t live only in the world of ideas. Your ideas have to make sense and they need to be translatable into definite action.

I see too many people dreaming of becoming successful yet they haven’t even started improving themselves. In their minds they are millionaires, yet in truth, they have zero skills to succeed. 

So working on yourself is the number one thing that’s often not discussed. You have to know what you are capable of instead of hoping to achieve something out of reach. 

Knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom.

— Aristotle

Also, you must know how you are perceived by others and how your business is perceived. 

This objectivity is hard to achieve and I myself haven’t achieved it to the degree that I would like to, but there must be some of that. If you’re unable to understand how you are perceived you will fail to learn from the public feedback. 

2. Build with a long-term view.

Don’t rush getting established. Try to grow your brand slowly and organically, as such roots are the strongest. 

Of course, if you get on a trend, that’s wonderful. But whether your business will stand when the trend goes down depends on whether you’ve established strong roots. 

Gary Vee, a highly successful entrepreneur, talks about this a lot. He doesn’t try to sell you anything when he gives his advice. 

He just shares his advice freely. This is what makes him attract people who eventually pay for his advice. He’s not rushing anywhere. 

So it’s best to avoid making a quick sale. You may win one order, but you may lose that client forever. Focus on becoming good at what you do, build your products slowly and share your advice freely. 

3. Be real.

If you are like everyone else, the competition will apply to you and then life will be hard. 

On the other hand, if you are in your own league, you have a brand. Brands last whilst businesses that have nothing unique are quickly forgotten. 

You can be unique very easily — simply be yourself. But you have to be the best version of you, and this comes by working hard on your character and skills. 

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. Be regular.

This is the advice that has made me successful. I remember, just when I was starting my blog, how some millionaire guy on YouTube (I don’t even know his name) shared his one secret with the audience.

He told that he became successful by being regular. 

I believed him, and it proved to be true.

You see, most people are not regular in business. They try something, and if it doesn’t generate income fast enough, they quit to try something else.

Yet sometimes it takes a while to see the results of your work. It depends on which field you are in, and whether you are on a trend or not. 

So you have to be patient, and you have to be regular. 

Of course, if you see absolutely no results, that means there’s something wrong with what you do and this again comes down to knowing yourself. But if you see even small results, a month from now those results will increase, and a year from now it can turn into something significant. 

So be regular always, though you may need to modify what you do as you go, according to the feedback and results. 

5. Have the right attitude

Your mind is everything. If you don’t believe that you can succeed, you won’t. Sometimes you may want to convince yourself that you know you can succeed, but then when you take action towards success, it goes wrong.

It means that there are negative beliefs in the subconscious sabotaging you. If this is the case, you will need to fish for them and destroy them. This you can do through mindfulness, as this practice allows you to get familiar with the self-talk always going on in your mind. 

A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results. 

— Wade Boggs

When I was just starting on the road of self-employment and my new mindset was just forming, I never allowed myself to think negatively. Even if I didn’t believe it, I continued affirming that I would be successful and that I would make it — until I really started believing it. 

6. Don’t think that self-employment will completely fulfill you

I remember the day when I realized that I was living my dream. I was on a beach in South India, working on my laptop. 

Instead of feeling satisfied with that, my mind shifted to thinking about what next is to be achieved.

This totally took me by surprise. In no wealth seminars was I ever taught that once you achieve your dreams, your mind will start searching for new things to do. 

I was made to believe that this dream is a be-all and end-all. Yet it wasn’t true.

So though being a digital nomad is a wonderful goal to achieve, once the mind stops worrying about how to achieve self-sufficiency, it will shift to solving other problems — as though the previous one never existed at all!

Though in this piece I was trying to be more realistic than inspirational, I don’t deny the fact that becoming self-employed was the best decision I’ve made in my life.

It allowed me the freedom to be, the freedom to do as I pleased with my time. 

I will always be grateful for this privilege.

It’s my hope that this story will inspire you to believe in yourself, and that it will cause you to want to work on yourself; so that you not only think about becoming self-sufficient, but you actively work to make this a reality.