Designing your life to become a Digital Nomad – Part 1

I remember when my friend Abhishek messaged me from Goa. He was really excited about something.

Nayanika! I’ve got an idea for you.

Wonder why hes so excited. Must be the sea breeze doing its magic,I chuckled to myself, thinking about Abhishek enjoying the sultry Goan seawaters in December.

He wasnt merely there to holiday. He was working remotely on his start-up with the rest of his team based out of Chandigarh. More and more of my friends seem to be choosing such work lives, to the extent that I no longer know if the friends I chose became digital nomads or I chose them as friends because they were that to begin with. The line blurs. The cafe he was at highlighted its virtues as a destination for digital nomads in Goa with a comfortable rooftop co-working space and a wifi speed of 50mbps (which is very uncommon for wifi-insecure Goa). He described the place first to finally reach the exciting idea he had for me.

At this space, there is a reception area where events, flyers and other such material is kept. And it was there that a card caught my eye. A business card. On the front it said,

Chris Novak

Digital Nomad

And on the back, in quirky colours it announced,

Let Me Help You With

Branding & Design Work

You should totally do this wherever youre travelling to next.

Both of us are designers, he makes websites and I work as a graphic designer. In the Indian context we usually get most of our work from a small network consisting of friends and colleagues. But, this Chris Novak seems to have understood the new digital work environment much better. The entire premise of Remote Working and Digital Nomadism is that service providers and their clients no longer have to be situated in one place, because internet connectivity allows them to exchange services and remuneration digitally. As a consequence, the job market is changing, skills are changing and so is the manner in which people look for jobs.

But, before we teach you how to become one, we must also caution you with some hard facts. Being a nomad in India is still not as viable as in some other countries. You will not earn as much as your counterparts doing the same work in metro cities. In this lifestyle, there will be the constant joy of discovering new lands and experiences, but also the constant pain of leaving behind connections you have formed and the communities you have discovered. Your relationships will have a tendency to become short-lived, because you wouldnt be in one place to cultivate them, unless you find yourself a digital nomad partner. But, having said all that, one cannot deny your life will become rich. Rich with knowledge, experience and memories. Richer than you thought possible.

Using insights from my personal experiences and those of my friends exploring this work lifestyle, Im bringing you tips to design your life to become an effective digital nomad.

1. Clarity & Setting An Intention

Modern humans are not meant to move around so much, so it is obvious that such a work life is a big shift from how we have usually worked. So, you should be clear about your reasons for choosing it from Day 1. Make sure that it isnt because youre seduced by the promise of exotic locations and an Instagram-worthy life. Or chasing the idea of making your life a permanent vacation. I assure you that there will be a time when youre going to be working the same number of hours youre working at your desk job, while having to actively forego the salmon-tinted skies of Honolulu or Bali outside your window.

Sit yourself down and inquire your deepest reasons.

1. Do you want to explore the world?

2. Are you running away from something?

3. Are you running towards something?

4. Do you want to work more closely with the global community?

5. Are you doing it to learn something?

When you are clear on your track, make your other decisions based on this. It could be that you want to build your portfolio and do diverse work, but when the chance presents itself, you find yourself shying away from an unpaid opportunity because you also want to earn good money in the process. This confusion is a symptom of being unclear about why youre embarking on the digital nomads path.

Read Part Two of this essay series (Invest in skills, Reach out to clients and Build your routine) to find step-by-step guide to designing your life to be a digital nomad.

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