In 2016 I was laid-off from my job as a software executive. At first, I felt devastated and lost, but then I saw it as an opportunity to get healthy again. I had been working in Delhi, India and the delicious Indian food, along with working 14-hour days, had left me overweight and out-of-shape. As a result, I decided to learn yoga and reevaluate my career. I grew tired of the constant stress and long hours of my previous position and I also hated only having two weeks a year to travel. I soon realized that I never wanted a desk-job again.
One day you wake up and realize that there has to be another way. You dream of living a life full of vitality, one that you don’t need a vacation from.
While I was in India, I started blogging about my experiences as an expat and the blog took off. I realized that if I could write for my website, I could also write for others. Because of this, I returned to the states and sold my luxury home, I simplified my life, and I made the conscious decision to pursue a career in freelance writing. Now I’m a digital nomad and yoga teacher (I sometimes even write about yoga!) I like the idea of having multiple income streams because I always have a back-up. I spend my days doing what makes me happy; traveling the world, teaching yoga, and writing about my experiences. In fact, I’ve visited over twenty countries in the past two years!
It hasn’t been an easy transition, but the best things in life always take tremendous effort. I’ve watched my savings dwindle and more than one person has suggested that I might be a little crazy. I had a lot of guilt about finding someone else to care for my dog and selling most of my possessions was a monumental task. It also hasn’t been easy to find clients; I’ve written more than a few articles for free, just to gain experience. However, I’ve managed to assemble a decent portfolio. Now, a year and a half later, I have many clients that send me regular assignments and I write about a broader range of topics outside of travel and yoga. I’ve written blog posts for clients on everything from how to choose an insurance agent to HVAC maintenance. It’s not always glamorous, but I can do my job from anywhere there is Wi-Fi. I’ve worked from the beaches of Croatia to a little guesthouse in the Himalaya Mountains. I’ve taught yoga at a hostel in Portugal and early next year I’ll be teaching at a youth camp in Costa Rica.
Most of us were taught to believe in the “American Dream.” We are expected to go to college, choose a career, get married, find a job, buy a car, buy a home, and have children. We are supposed to go to the office Monday to Friday, 8:00 to 5:00, and do that for the next 40 years. Well, in the words of Pulitzer Prize winner and renowned musician, Bob Dylan, “The times they are changin’.”
The mid-life crisis is a real phenomenon. It’s usually the result of a mid-life realization that our dreams are not what we anticipated. We suddenly notice that the “American Dream” is not dreamy at all. To many of us, an 8:00 to 5:00 job in an office for 40 years feels like a life-sentence of being chained to a desk. With only a couple of weeks a year of vacation, life goes by too fast. One day you wake up and realize that there has to be another way. You dream of living a life full of vitality, one from which you don’t need a vacation.
More and more people are joining the movement away from location dependent jobs. According to a February 2017 Gallup survey, 31% of Americans work remotely at least 80% of the time. Terms like digital nomad, telecommuting, and remote worker are becoming more mainstream. As a result, workers are exchanging the business suit for sweatpants and using Skype instead of the conference room.
There are many advantages to working remotely, such as no commute, more free time, fewer distractions, and the ability to provide in-home care for children or aging parents. Benefits to the employer primarily include less overhead. An employee that works remotely doesn’t need an office, parking space, desk or work-station. Many employers report that their remote staff work more hours and are more productive than those that come into the office on a daily basis. Employees that telecommute say that they feel less stress with a remote based job and that the ability to work remotely played a major role in their decision to accept a position.
Are you wondering how you can become a remote worker? How does someone go about transitioning from an in-office job to a remote based position? The first thing you can do is talk to your employer about the possibility of working from home. Often, it starts with one day a week, then two, and develops from there. It depends on the needs of the company and your productivity.
If you are looking at making a career change or are just starting out in the workforce, focus on developing job skills that aren’t location dependent. Positions like content writing, sales, web design, and software development are easily performed from just about anywhere. Of course, brick-and-mortar retail and many service jobs require in-person customer interaction. Telecommuting for these types of positions doesn’t make sense. If you want to work remotely, choose a career that is not location dependent and build skills accordingly.
Many people are picking a different career path and lifestyle than their parents. We have options. Your “American Dream” can be whatever you want it to be! It doesn’t have to include a desk job, big home, or fancy car. The important thing is to identify what type of career will help you live a life full of vitality, health, and happiness, and then make it happen!