When people think of remote working the exotic comes to mind. Beaches and sunsets. Eating new foods for the first time. Wine tasting all over the world. Working from mountain tops or white sand beaches. Surfing before breakfast. Taking lots of photos and blogging to your thousands of followers all over the world. Can you do all those things while remote working? Absolutely! However, it’s important to remember that remote working isn’t about the destination it’s a way of life.
So why does travel come up so often when talking about working remotely? I believe it’s because something so many people have wanted to do and had to make a conscious choice not to travel (except during their one or two weeks of vacation out of the year) and instead chose their career. Which ultimately means you’ve chosen to do what someone else wants of you instead of doing what you really want and even dream of doing. Now, more than ever, the thought of being able to do both, have a thriving career and travel, is driving people to turn their thoughts into actions.
However, even in these situations it’s not about the destination. It’s about having the freedom to choose. It’s about having the flexibility to work and travel. When you choose to work remotely you are adopting a lifestyle but not one that your company sets for you. Your company may still dictate your work but they no longer dictate your lifestyle.
You get to choose where you’ll live. You get to choose where you’ll work from. You will have many decisions to make. The choices are now yours. What lifestyle will you create for yourself? For many, including myself, gaining freedom meant I wanted to explore it all!
While I enjoy new and old destinations my work is separate of those things. If I stopped traveling tomorrow I still would never go back into an office. Why? Because I don’t work remotely to check countries off my bucket list. I don’t even have a bucket list. Remote working is all about choices.
The most important choice I make every day is to choose me. I choose to get up and work every day. I choose to set my own goals. I choose the individuals I get to work with. I choose my path both personally and professionally. The best part is that my choices aren’t destined to be one or the other. I can have my cake and eat it too! Which is not to say the cake always tastes as sweet and never runs out. It is to say I do feel more days are like my birthday and just about any day can feel like a Friday.
The first choice that I ever made was to choose my family. In doing so I chose to pay for my own health insurance and forego company benefits. Even though it was scary, I know I made the right choice. During this time in my life my family had been through a lot. My husband had committed suicide just two years earlier. His death was followed by several more deaths in the family. My children and family never needed me more. I needed them at that time more than any other as well.
My next big choice was to completely change my lifestyle again and prove what I was saying true. As a virtual assistant and VA matchmaker/trainer I told everyone I could work from anywhere in the world but I wasn’t. Only a few years earlier I had gotten over my fear of flying and immediately obtained a passport so I could travel to every place I ever wanted to. Off I went to visit 16 countries in 12 months.
A remote lifestyle says I can work from anywhere in the world WITH good wifi. (I leave the less than desirable wifi locations for when I take a vacation). When people ask what I do that I get to travel so much I tell them it’s not that I travel for work. I work remotely and because I do I can travel whenever I choose. I don’t need to wait for vacation or take leave of any kind. The response I often hear is, “Wow! You’re living the dream.”
So many people make the choice to do what they love or follow a career path. They are told they can’t have it all. There is some truth to that. I don’t have it all in my life. What I do have is exactly what I want. As I continue to grow personally and professionally will my traveling preferences change? Will I slow down? It’s too soon to tell. What won’t change is how I view work.
The difference is in the mindset. I value my time, my family, and my services. I don’t have time to be stuck in traffic and commute hours out of my day, every day. There was once a time when I did and it was part of my lifestyle. I didn’t think it could be any different and I didn’t necessarily want it to be.
I used to believe that I what I offered could only be fully appreciated in person. How could anyone know my value if they couldn’t see it in person? How could I convince myself of the same? I had to try it. The bottom line my services don’t require me to be in person. Period.
Wherever you go there you are. If you are going to have the time of your life abroad you can have the time of your life at home. It’s just a different kind of time. I don’t travel to find the better place. I travel to discover new places. While I’m thankful my career allows me to do so I am not searching for a destination to complete me. I only want to be a better version of myself and traveling helps me literally expand my horizons.
The discipline, drive, and focus, you must have to not only work remotely but travel to do so is not something everyone possesses. To be quite frank, I certainly didn’t just a few short years ago. It’s because it wasn’t my way of life. However, life changes and so did I.
What was once an all physical contact world, to be seen and heard in person, has now switched to a remote virtual world where we may be colleagues and friends for years without ever meeting one another. This is my new normal. This is my way of life. This is what it is to be remote. It also means I have more responsibilities to myself. No one else is going to take care of them.
Not all companies know how to run a remote company well, and if you are a freelancer or entrepreneur doing this on your own you have a big responsibility to yourself. Some responsibilities include setting working boundaries, compensation, health and wellness which includes addressing mental health, loneliness, isolation.
As a way of life I have to check-in with myself regularly. Am I taking care of myself? What do I foresee as being an issue in the coming weeks, months, and years? You can’t hold these to anyone else. Yes, you have more freedom but you have more responsibility as well. No destination will make these problems go away.
In the same way your exercise and diet are a way of life so is working remotely. You can have a life-changing experience while traveling but that doesn’t mean you’ve adopted a new lifestyle. Only you can choose to change your life and lifestyle. I may not always travel like I do now. The destinations may closer and closer to one another. My lifestyle of working remotely will not change.