Far too many Digital Nomads pursue this lifestyle without being clear on what it is they are doing and why it is that they are doing it. Except for the idea that they want to “travel to as many countries as possible” and fully immerse themselves into a new country until they feel like moving on, their ideas are sometimes vague. Add to this the stress of entrepreneurship – the means to make money and provide for their lifestyle, digital nomads need reliable tools to help them deal with possible setbacks and stay positive.
Adopting the right digital nomad mindset for your work, travel, and life balance are critical if you want to thrive in what can sometimes be a hostile environment, especially for the uninitiated.
DEFINITION OF MINDSET
So in the big picture, what is a mindset, and how do you use it? More difficult is if you have the wrong mindset, how do you change it? In the big picture, the definition of a mindset is an “established set of attitudes held by someone.” It can also mean the way a person thinks or the opinions they have, but in my opinion, they are much more than that. Take a look at Wikipedia’s definitions of mindset here.
Mindsets can be used for different situations and undertakings. For instance, the mindset of someone training for a competition is where one can use a mindset to motivate oneself and get past obstacles to training daily. It’s not easy to go and train every day, and if it is a higher-level competition, the bar will be higher and the competition tougher. A positive mindset such as “make use of your time to train the best skill you can get for the competition” or “I’ll train hard daily and work so that I can be better than I was at the last competition.” These are healthy and powerful mindsets that can help with motivation, attitude, and engaging so that when the competition comes, the person is ready to do his or her best.
HOW IS MINDSET USEFUL FOR A DIGITAL NOMAD?
The useful thing about mindsets is how it can help you focus on things you need to get done and also if you have the right mindset, how it can give you the self-confidence to overcome obstacles and keep on going. I have also found that a mindset will fuse your interests and in this way get you to think about out-of-the-box solutions that you would not have thought of before if not being in this frame of mind.
One of the things that hold millions of people back, the world over, is the collective societal mindset that there is a specific way in which all of us should live. Let us all face it; the idea and the notion that there is just one way to live is simply devastating. It traps people in a lifetime of misery.
The real tragedy though, is that so many people still buy into that. Even those among us who are determined to travel someday are often confronted by that very big BUT. What about my retirement they say, what about my insurance?
The thought that does not cross their minds often enough is that meaningful travel can be achieved before they retire.
Something else we need to start doing more often, as people who think about being Digital Nomads, is ignoring what the society you live in might think about you. You need to value your opinion about yourself more than the impression that others have about you.
There is an apparent disconnect between what people would like to do with their lives and what they expect themselves to be doing daily. There doesn’t seem to be the realization that both things can be achieved simultaneously.
People spend an excessive amount of their time trying to climb up the ladder and not enough of it trying to own the ladder – to work, focus, and achieve a life balance on their own terms.
DIGITAL NOMADS HAVE PROBLEMS AND CHALLENGING SITUATIONS
Choosing the digital nomad lifestyle, with its fantastic benefits and stone cold disadvantages will leave you with multiple attractive options not available to others who have an office job. At the same time, however, it will bring a list of challenging situations that can squash any self-confidence you have. Here are some of them:
*Documentation and foreign governments
*Staying on budget each month
*Socializing – it can be a lonely life
*Starting over frequently when moving to another country
*Dating and maintaining relationships and friendships
*Consistent income if a freelancer with projects
*Burnout without recognizing it
*Finding and keeping customers (it’s sales)
*Balancing their day with exercise
*Finding time to do the adventure travel they dream about and got them to choose the Digital Nomad Lifestyle
*Social disagreements due to language, different cultural norms
THE RIGHT MINDSET CAN HELP WITH ALMOST ALL THESE CHALLENGES
Gives a person permission to make a mistake, but only if the person learns and grows from it. Try your best not to make the same mistake twice. It bolsters a person’s self-confidence in the way that you have a can-do attitude that is prone to learning instead of being frozen if there is a temporary setback.
Here are some of the mindsets that can be useful to a digital nomad:
*Mindsets that impact your work
-Mindset for getting things done
-Mindset for using your time to the maximum
*Mindsets that help balance your life
-Mindset for defining your bigger picture
*Mindsets that develop self-confidence
*Maximize the adventure and discovering new things
Admittedly, a mindset takes time. The only hurdle you have to overcome when deciding to become a Digital Nomad is a mental hurdle. However, psychological barriers are often the most difficult and time consuming to address.
The great thing about the life of a digital nomad is that, despite the challenges and pitfalls involved, it is one of the most rewarding and cathartic roads less traveled. However, you could be the most talented and sought after freelance expert in your niche, but it is your mindset that will determine your level of success and happiness if you follow the digital nomad path. Your mindset is everything, and it will determine just how well you utilize your freedom and adventurous travels toward the realization of your goals and dreams. It isn’t an easy task mixing your business and the pleasure every day of your mobile life, and you should map out your journey in your head. Otherwise, the numerous destinations you’re set to come across in your endeavors may derail you from the ultimate purpose of choosing your life path.
As a digital nomad, you will always be busy completing your client’s demanding orders and assignments as well as creating authoritative content to earn you more clients. The more, the merrier, right? Well, what would be the point of going to the scenic Irelands or Maasai Mara Game Reserve if you’d be locked up in your hotel room the entire time just working on your computer? Wasn’t the point of going there to experience the beauty of flora and fauna?
Well, that is the challenge that comes with digital nomadism. Do you another problem that you might face? How about missing all of your deadlines because the belly dancing and wax massages on the Swahili Islands took up all of your work time? That would definitely kill your business, deplete your finances and ground you back in your hometown broke. Worse still, the travels cost a lot if they aren’t well researched, planned, and hosted for financial viability.
The pertinent question here is, how should digital nomads balance their work and play? Can they be utterly free to operate on their whims and react to random schedules as they come, or do they always have to be confined in fixed programs that result in predictable routines? The hard reality is that freelancers must always strive to attain the utmost discipline in their time management and to set out their priorities.
They must schedule a time for their work and allocate enough time to play lest they suffer productivity-draining burnouts. They must make sure their work time is enough to meet their financial goals and have enough leisure time to lead healthy, happy lives while enjoying the benefits and perks of their travel expenses.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at the different mindsets a digital nomad can use in their daily life and explore how to use them.
USING YOUR MINDSET TO IMPACT YOUR WORK
Some people will tell you – and we think most of them are right – that mindset accounts for 80 percent of success in anything that you do. Perhaps that figure is most applicable to those who hope to pursue lives as Digital Nomads.
One of the first questions you do need to ask at this juncture is why you are choosing the Digital Nomad lifestyle? The Digital Nomad lifestyle is the path less taken and is not the usual path that many people make.
It defies the very notion of working a 9-5 job and challenges the idea that you need to be in an office five days a week to get your work done. When you decide that you are becoming a Digital Nomad, you are defying the norms or indeed what most people perceive to be healthy.
What people do tend to take for granted is that when you embark on a campaign to become a Digital Nomad not only will your lifestyle change but so too will your mindset. You have no choice but to change your mindset.
The reality is that while you can enter this sphere without a mindset change, the transition will be difficult, and your prospects of failure will be significantly heightened — the best opportunities of a seamless lifestyle transition rest with a mindset change.
There are several ways to determine if you have the mindset to thrive in the Digital Nomad environment. All of them have to do with mindset shifts. However, we are going to rush through five of those – five questions that will likely determine if this lifestyle is for you or not.
Mindset for Getting Things Done
Technology and services are indispensable for the digital nomad, but a strategy is an essential tool that a digital nomad could ever use for success and happiness. Without the right mindset, apps, software, machines, and any other inventions that are designed and developed for making life more comfortable are meaningless to the digital nomad. It is a significant juxtaposition given the reliance of a digital nomad on technology and innovation to achieve freedom and success.
As a digital nomad, you will find a lot of success and convenience if you adopt a mindset for getting things done, and you can develop such a mindset by:
- Focusing on what is most important.
- Stay in the present and do not linger too much in the past or future. Focusing on the present allows you to realize what needs to be done at the moment and ultimately enables you to fight procrastination or regrets for past laziness.
- Stick to process even though it may seem long and ever-winding.
- Take time outs when you are tired, and use the time out to accomplish another task like eating, working out or resting. Time outs rejuvenate tired minds and bodies.
- Change your habits to reinforce the new mindsets that you are embracing.
Mindset about Time – Use Time to Your Advantage
If you run an online freelance business, your time is the most valuable asset. You can’t factor it in on your balance sheets. If you get paid by the hour, imagine just how much money you lose through callous time management. Well, there is no other demanding business, in time, than that of a digital nomad. For starters, you will spend loads of time on boats, cars, and airplanes. You aren’t likely to get in traffic jams as much as the typical 9-5 employees, but they never have to advertise their services as much as you will.
To create and maintain a digital presence that is always winning you, well-paying clients is time-consuming enough, and the time spent managing a healthy stream of orders is even more daunting. By forming a mindset that reminds you of the value of your time every day, you will learn the virtue of biting only as much as you can chew. If your clients bring in too much such that you can’t handle all of it, the time maximization mindset will lead you into several decisions.
Getting other freelancers to help you out with your work is ideal, but you must be careful not to lose your clients through this method. Outsourcing could lead to the expansion or degeneration of your services. If you can find excellent skills to assist you with extra work for a profit, that is very good for you, but appreciate that managing other people is also time-consuming.
Upping Your Prices:
Your limited time has undoubtedly grown in value if your business has grown to the point that it is overwhelmed with work, and you can’t serve all of your clients. At that point, a time maximization mindset will help you excellently because it will lead you to revise your hourly charges upwards. A great mindset will lead you to focus on the important few who yield more returns for your limited time because you certainly shouldn’t sacrifice your play time to serve the extra clients.
Let’s consider the popular song “7 Years” by Lucas Graham; it is powerful poetry that explores the perishable nature of time. The artist describes how life as a touring performer is fulfilling and epic, but he explains how such a life means cutting off many friends. Time fleets by and soon enough, they are left to wonder if they should have spent more time with the people they love.
Sadly for most digital nomads who do not have a time maximization mindset, such regrets are inevitable because their careers, even when always on the move, should be more wholesome and balance between the social aspect of life as much as the professional. With the proper mindset, you will maximize your professional hours so that you spare enough time to live, play, explore, and socialize.
The trick is always to segment your days. There should be a difference between your workdays and your off days every week, but you shouldn’t always be on work mode the whole day for your work days. For the work part of your days, always make sure that you maximize every second and focus on beating deadlines.
It is advisable that you have weekly timetables that are suited to helping you clear all of your work commitments, and you should always do your best to adhere to them because timelines are goal oriented, and veering off them could mean missing out on your targets. The little procrastinations are what make freelancers’ to-do list pile up and become unmanageable. Therefore, even if you may not follow your timetables and account for every minute, you will find that your weekly target spillovers won’t always overwhelm you.
MINDSETS TO HELP BALANCE YOUR LIFE
Define Your Bigger Picture
The first step towards acquiring the perfect mindset to propel your digital nomad lifestyle forward is to conduct an in-depth analysis of your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Find that picture, build a mindset that “defines you” and then remind yourself daily of what that means to you and go towards it. You must have serious and solemn meetings with yourself to figure out the reasons why you would like to embark on this less traveled road. Are you doing it because your niche demands travel? If you are a travel and accommodation blogger or recommendation specialist, this is a significant reason to do it.
Are you a creative writer who would like to expand the horizon of your imagination and conquer the plague of writers’ blocks? Well, you must make sure you are very social on your trips and talk to random people while collecting notes on their history, accents, and opinions. Are you a computer programmer who doesn’t like leading a predictable life out of fear for hackers trying to steal your intellectual properties? You’d certainly do well in isolated beach huts and the various treetop lodgings around the world.
How about if you are a philosopher who finds traveling to be the purest form of education or an online tutor who likes giving students lived experiences of the history, geography, culture or art that you teach? You must map out destinations that are relevant to your syllabus and course outlines, right?
By defining the purpose of choosing to be a digital nomad, you can plan your travels adequately from the onset. You’ll be able to decide where, when, and how you will spend your days on the road, sea or air. It is a critical part of formulating a proper mindset that will help you to foresee the challenges that you are likely to face financially, socially, physically, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually. It will also help you to determine the kind of security measures that you need to prepare for yourself while in foreign lands. If you do not interrogate your true intentions, you may find yourself unable to keep up with your social life, finances, health, and happiness.
MINDSETS THAT DEVELOP SELF-CONFIDENCE
Digital nomads are pretty talented intellectuals with the capacity to accomplish excellent results for their clients, and they may be naturally inclined to think that they were born highly intelligent. Although that may be true, the assumption is hazardous because it could bestow upon them fixed mindsets. The worst curse that could befall a digital nomad is embracing a fixed mindset at the expense of a growth mindset. It could spell disaster for your business, as a digital nomad, if you did not actively fight to preserve a growth mindset for your everyday operations. It is because your niche is always evolving, no matter how simple or complex.
Do you know what else grows every day, the freelancers who are in direct competition with you? Never assume for a minute, that your current clientele isn’t receiving cold and warm pitches from your competitors. You must continuously evolve and upgrade your skills, services, outlook, perspective, and negotiation skills to preserve your current clientele. However, this is a very narrow way to perceive the growth mindset; it is way bigger than that.
A growth mindset is a belief that intelligence, emotional, physical, and intellectual, can be developed to achieve better efficiency, bigger capacity, and happiness. A person with a growth mindset will always strive to work hard through study, practice and the adaption of more effective strategies to achieve a higher personal capacity to deliver in matters financial, professional, physical, social and emotional. The growth mindset allows you to be open-minded, receptive to help, and positive criticism and always willing to learn.
A digital nomad should always shun the notion that intelligence is a fixed trait that is cast on stone and one that can’t expand or shrink. The human brain is simply the most malleable abstract concept in the world, and it is more tangible than anyone, except neuroscientists, could ever perceive. It gets stronger, bigger, and more competent with constant effort and new experiences. Brain plasticity is a useful asset that digital nomads can have at their disposal, the same as every other human, and adopting a fixed mindset could lead to their intellectual shrinkage. It would be a shame for a digital nomad not to learn and grow every day given the nature of their lifestyles.
The perfect setting for any freelancer to grow is the dynamic one involving tons of travel and new experiences. If only a digital nomad could adopt a growth mindset, which always changes an individual no matter the setting, growth, and learning could become spontaneous, given the ever-changing reality with which nomads are blessed. They need that mindset to perceive the changing environments with curiosity and wonder rather than a fixed mindset that blocks all the potential learning incentives around. As a digital nomad, you are likely to come across very many successful people who are always traveling and seeking accomplishments around the world.
Such people are open enough to grow that they understand growth and learning is spread out across the world and not fixed in one geolocation. You should always strive to pick their minds and understand their mindsets. You must still learn from people, but use your goals and aspirations to discern the viability of other people’s mindsets in the pursuit of your targeted growth. You will learn mindsets that you should embrace, mindsets you should shun, and mindsets from which you can pick certain aspects and neglect the others.
You will find that some growth mindsets, from athletes, dictate that a change of diet, increase in water consumption, and reduction of drug intake could lead to a generally improved health status. If you followed that mindset and your health improved, your mood and openness to learn would shoot up and make you perform better in your interactions and work delivery. The bran is always more receptive when the body is fit and in shape, and adopting a growth mindset from the athletes you meet will help you to become a better person, professional, and learner.
Adopting a helpful growth mindset also includes learning the art of patience. You must understand that growth takes time. Let’s say; for instance, that you would are a writer who’d like to learn a new language so that you can increase the scope of your readership or reach of your potential clientele. If you do not determine the art of patience, you may never live to achieve the growth that you desire because it may take you well over seven months of consistent practice and study to grasp the basics of a language and an extra one year to develop full fluency in that language. A growth mindset is patient, and you can pick it up from the suitable characters you come across in your globetrotting.
Ultimately, a growth mindset requires that you be courageous enough to accept that some of your habits are detrimental for your improvement and efficiency. As such, you must be brave enough to shun the retrogressive things that you love and take on new ones that will shape you into a better, happier and more capable individual. You must learn to step out of your comfort zone, and for someone who’s already chosen the road less traveled of a digital nomad, that shouldn’t be too hard, right?
The growth mindset is great for people who genuinely know what they want in life. In the early stages of this article, I mentioned that the very first step towards developing the right step towards acquiring the perfect mindset to propel your digital nomad lifestyle forward is to conduct an in-depth analysis of your dreams, goals, and aspirations. Well, a growth mindset will always allow you to embrace the changes that you need to make in your priorities and operations in pursuit of what you want. Growth still has direction because it is a form of movement.
That is why I also mentioned that you should always map out your travel destinations in your head before embarking on the digital nomad journey. You might come across excellent lessons that may take time to learn, but you should only focus on the ones that lead you further towards your targeted destinations. For growth, you shouldn’t just trot blindly, but go to destinations that are likely to bestow niche-oriented benefits in your life.
MAXIMIZE ADVENTURE AND DISCOVERING NEW THINGS
Embrace the Adventure Mindset
The main reason why you are a digital mindset has to be your curiosity. A great adventure is the healthiest encounter that any human being could wish for; it is proactive rather than the typical reactive visit hospitals and clinics. When you are at any new destination where you plan to stay for a while, do not live a routine during your leisure time. Routines are for work hours, and you should always set out the earliest segments of your days for work. I propose always waking up early, when everyone else hasn’t, to work on your projects with extreme focus and attentiveness. When you take meal breaks, do it socially because you’ll probably be taking served meals. By early afternoons, you should have done enough to cover your upcoming deadlines and have enough time for an adventure.
When your work is done, and you have several hours to scout your visiting town, city, or village, don’t take the same paths. Try covering different parts of the beach and learning new paths if you are cycling to the beach. If you are hiking on the mountain ranges, don’t always follow the demarcated paths for tourists. It would prove very fruitful to take other less traveled routes that could offer you more rewarding sceneries than the ones marketed on websites and travel pamphlets.
If you are staying at one location, instead of taking short tours around that location, why don’t you take long bus trips to other places that you still haven’t encountered during those afternoons and make friends in different social amenities like clubs and parks when you still have the time?
If you make a routine of working from early mornings to early afternoons, you are always bound to have time for afternoon adventures. You will find that you will always have extra time to Skype and video conference with your loved ones in the evenings. That way, if you still have time to chat with your loved ones on the phone and keep up with your home buddies, you won’t feel as isolated or homesick during your nomadic movements.
Mindset can be used to your advantage when living the digital nomad life. When I talk these days with people during my travels or with younger people wishing to embark on a digital nomad journey, it always comes to my mind that they will need face challenges and need tools to help them through it. Mindset is one of those tools that are available to everyone, and it takes just some deep thought and self-discipline to integrate it into one’s life. Take the time to apply some of these mindsets to your life, especially when you face some new challenges. It can make a big difference! Good luck.
I’m the owner of Digital Nomad Explorer. I’ve traveled to over 50 countries and been an expat in Scotland, Finland, and China. I was a digital nomad while having my own robotics company and traveled throughout Europe and China working remotely. Currently, I’m location independent with a home base in Kirkkonummi, Finland.