Making The World Your Office
Neon signs blink on multistory department stores and flocks of grey pigeons spiral across the sky before coming to rest on the concrete window frames on an early Tuesday evening in Neukölln, Berlin.
I rush through the after-work hours of Berlin. The pathways have turned into highways for late-night-shoppers, victims of stimulus satiation, and people fill the Döner food stands where most ordered their first or second beer already.
I escape the rush, as I turn into a side street. Time to breathe. The blinking finally stops. Here are only buildings made with precast concrete slabs that frame the street.
I stumble into a café, which probably would have slipped through my senses, unless I hadn’t been looking for it in particular. Stepping into the café compares to stripping a dusty blanket off an unidentified antique and finding a time machine.
Embracing all it’s scratches and imperfections to tell it’s story, I was certain that I was going to become a small insignificant part of it as it was going to become a significant one in mine.
The truth is, I didn’t happen to be in this place by mistake. Instead, I had a clear goal in mind: Catching a glimpse of a new lifestyle.
I am in a phase of my life where authors and online entrepreneurs have become my new superheroes, while also being at an age where I want to define who I really am. So I think it’s time for me to glimpse beyond my nose and see what else is out there.
Maybe it’s this passionate mindset that made me end up at the Digital Nomads event “Digital Nomad Stories 2” hosted by Anna-Lena Eckstein and Nadine Mandrella from Office Journey in this dusty dream bubble.
I took a seat on what looked like one of many randomly thrifted chairs in the middle of the attic-like café.
Within seconds, Anna-Lena, a young woman with bushy hair and a bright smile, -a young woman, who I had never met before- welcomed me to the event the way a friend would. Maybe I became a part of the gang? I don’t know. All I know for certain is that it felt as if I was at the right place at the right time.
Digital Nomads Stories
No mobile contract, no residence and all you own is stuffed in a backpack. It’s not much, but enough to travel the world. This way, digital nomad Anna-Lena Cornerstone has been to over 15 countries in the past two years alone! Even though she might not be filling her pockets with a six-figure income, she is filling her life with something more valuable: The stories and adventures of a lifetime. “Everyone can do this. It’s not witchcraft.”, praises the young entrepreneur.
She remembers that it was two events that flipped a switch in her mind when she was still a university student and about to turn her life upside down.
- “Where the heck is Burma?”, she must have thought when her roomy received a postcard from a friend, who was currently travelling Burma at the time. Do you know? She didn’t either. However, it’s just a postcard, right? People get postcards all the time. Yet, her mind wouldn’t stop wandering back to this postcard in particular. How come that her friend had the heart to travel so far, while she hadn’t? Maybe this is something she could do as well?
- On her backpacking trip through Vietnam, she met a guy who financed himself by selling language courses online. Somehow, this sparked the idea to try something comparable herself.
Even though both women emphasize that this lifestyle might not be for everyone and it certainly has it’s ups and downs, both have no doubt in their minds that risking to take a step into freedom was the right way into finding a lifestyle they love.
Digital Nomads Misconceptions
You need a lot of money saved to become a Digital Nomad.
Obviously, the more money you have when you start your journey, the easier it will be. Anna-Lena kickstarted her new profession in Krabi, Thailand, before moving to the go-to-hub for Nomads, the city of Chiang Mai, also in Thailand. There, where money is worth more, she could turn her small amount of savings into a comfortable lifestyle and make a living off of her work.
Digital Nomads embrace the 4-hour work week
Just like in any other profession, you have to put in the hours. Even though, social media presents the lifestyle as sipping Pina Coladas at the beach and the occasional glance at the laptop, it’s not that. Let’s pop this illusion and replace it with the image of a twelve hour working session at Starbucks.
There is no masterplan to finding a job as a Digital Nomad. Say “Yes” to opportunities that come your way (as in “Fake it til you make it.”) Most Digital Nomads appear to start out as a virtual assistant or an Amazon FBA. But being a Digital Nomad doesn’t necessarily have to be doing ‘just this’. A smart way to make a business for yourself or finding a field to work in is taking a close look at the job you already have and/or are passionate about. Ask yourself “Can you also practice your job online?”.
Digital Nomads start out with the skills they need.
No. If you “Fake it til you make it”, you definitely have to make it at some point. Most skills you need you can acquire from online resources like Udemy or Skillshare.
Traveling makes you happy.
You can be anywhere in the world –Yes, even in Bali.- and be unhappy. No one said life one the road would be easy: It’s hard to be far from your family. It’s hard to be alone (not necessarily lonely) and it’s even harder to be in a relationship. Before you become a Digital Nomad, take a close look at yourself in the mirror and figure out what it is that makes you truly happy.
What Digital Nomads Teach Us
You are never ready.
The day you will be 100% ready will never come. Dare to believe in yourself and follow your dreams with all your heart.
You are the average of the five people you spend time with.
Surround yourself with people who support you, understand you and push you further.
Home is just one flight away.
If being a Digital Nomad doesn’t work for you, you can always go home and put your failed adventure off as an experience.
If all you do is what you know, you will always stay what you already are.
… life begins at the end of your comfort zone..
Live each day as if it was your last one.
Are you living your best life today? Probably not, but try to do something new every day and embrace things that make you happy.
I leave the event with a spark of passion, a voice that calls me out to get “active and follow my dreams” and a fraction of fear.
I am not going to buy my plane ticket tomorrow or the day after. Would you?
But I learned that no matter how small you think you are, you should always bet on yourself. Chances are, you will turn your obstacles into something great. It’s up to you to take the world by storm.
FOR MORE PLEASE CHECK OUT: Digital Nomad Stories by Anna-Lena Eckstein