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Revealed! Location independence makes you a workaholic…

Laptop on the beach

A work paradise or a paradise wasted?


While many people’s view of a location independent lifestyle is that you are always on vacation, we’ve found that the opposite may be closer to the truth. We love what we do so it doesn’t feel too much like work. Combine the fact that our income is entirely in our own hands, it’s probably not surprising how alluring excessive hours at our laptops can be. But how does that tie in with the presumption that a location independent lifestyle is a lot more laid back and balanced than a ‘normal’ job?

We found our answer in French Polynesia.

Making the most of it

Getting this part of our trip organised was trickier than we planned, so we were delighted when 3 weeks on some of the most and breathtaking (and expensive!) islands on the planet finally came together. We were determined to make the most of it. Despite the offer a free home exchange accommodation for our whole visit we even decided to take a ‘vacation’ from our lifestyle and book a couple of hotel mini breaks away from everything. We were worried that this was breaking the terms of our challenge, but since we could have stayed in home exchanges for those nights (and because the places we wanted to go looked so awesome!) we decided it was ok to bend the rules a little. Although we knew we would have to do some work, we wanted this trip to be more like a normal holiday.


How’s the trip been?

We’ve had an amazing time. We’ve swum in stunning lagoons, paddled in a Tahitian canoe, learned to make crème caramel and eaten monster sized lobster, played with overfriendly sting rays, stepped through ancient ruins and picked wild tropical fruits. It’s been the stuff location independent dreams are made of.

wireless on the overwater bungalow

Should we EVEN be working here?


And the down side?

Operating on reduced work capacity we did run into a couple of problems. After running our ‘free trip and coaching’ competition we had to finish the revamp of our online coaching program which we offered as the runner up prize to ten people. We also ran a promotion straight after the competition to invite competition applicants to join our program for a third of the price. Once our competition winner left Mexico we decided on the date for the re-launch of the new and improved version of this program- October 14th. Slap-bang in the middle of our stay in Tahiti. I’m not sure what we were thinking of. Bad planning all round.

Needless to say, we didn’t get manage it. After several days of being holed up in a room as the deadline loomed we conceded defeat and sent out an apology email. We were disappointed to fail in a promise we had made. But in the end we had to stop and take stock. We weren’t going to achieve everything we wanted to in time. And in trying to meet this commitment we were actually setting a terrible example. This isn’t what location independence is all about at all.


Remembering the point of all this

So, all this brings me to here, where I am writing to you from now, with my feet resting on a glass coffee table through which I can seem fish nibbling on coral from our over-water bungalow on our second ‘mini break’. Of course as I write I am illustrating a point. We brought our laptops with us.

Being location independent doesn’t mean you have work life balance figured out all of the time. It’s just easier to disguise when you are getting it wrong when you are surrounded by amazing views. I imagine it’s the same for other digital nomads and lifestyle designers. We work more than we give the impression of and we do it because we want to. But enjoying your work doesn’t make it any less skewed if you do it to the exclusion of too many other things.

sunset in French Polynesia

What we should have been doing…relaxing!


Where we went wrong

The problem we had was that we decided we wanted to take time off in French Polynesia but we didn’t build in the mechanisms to make this happen. We assumed it would be straightforward, which was daft really because in 5 years of living like this we have never managed to do so. We assumed that saying ‘we’re going to take a break’ was enough. We under-estimated our commitments and the compulsion of self imposed responsibilities. The result was that we didn’t manage to pull off either the ‘work’ or ‘play’ elements as well as we could have. Don’t get me wrong, we had an amazing time. We also didn’t do some of the things we’d hoped, and we messed up on some work objectives. If we had anticipated better could we have ‘had it all’, or are we kidding ourselves? Is it as much of a holy grail for location independent entrepreneurs as it is for anyone else?

The white sand and aquamarine lagoons of French Polynesia taught us that you have to prioritise both work and play properly to have any chance of getting either one right. While all our friends and family might suspect that work comes in a poor second to a hedonistic lifestyle, we’ve realised that the far bigger danger is in failing to make the most of what is right there in front of you.

Amazing sunset

French Polynesia HAS to be on your bucket list

The result? I’ve posted my intentions for work and play on our Facebook page and asked for some accountability to help meet them.

For me, I wonder what else I’m neglecting. With the triumvirate of Love Play and Work, is Love getting a look in? Maybe a topic for another post….

Could you balance work and play wherever you are in the world?


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8 Responses to “Revealed! Location independence makes you a workaholic…”

  1. Great post and it’s great to see a ‘human’ side to location independence. Stuff happens and I think it’s nice and daring for you to put out there that you have challenges and sometimes you fail.

    Love the pictures

    • Thanks Ryan, we like to tell all! Especially when plans do not always come together as we expect so we choose to adapt them rather than sticking on the same path.

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  2. It’s great to hear your story and I am absolutely green with envy. French Polynesia looks like paradise. I’m not sure if I will ever get to visit there in my lifetime but I hope to do so. Personally, I try to do everything I have to with regards to work before I go on vacation. Because when I go on trips I also like to enjoy an adult beverage or two. And who wants to work when their hungover the next day.

    • Credit Donkey
    • Reply
    • Reese, if you ever have to fly across the Pacific then do make a stop over in French Polynesia (I am pretty sure you can do this with Air New Zealand for no extra cost). It is an amazing place for a vacation and an even better place to work!

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  3. It’s great to hear your honesty about this, and also to recognise that you definitely need downtime. However, it also reminds me of a piece from Seth Godin’s “Tribes”.
    He is on a beach in Jamaica at 11.00pm reading his emails. A couple walk by and she comments how sad it is for him to be doing work on vacation. He thinks – how sad it is that they only get two weeks a year to escape a job they hate whereas he is doing work he loves wherever and whenever he wants.
    Guess it’s about perspective.

    I think the key is to do more of the things that energise you – whether work or play, and less of the things that drain you!

    • Thanks Karen. Love when peoples perspective can be twisted around to really make you think, will be certain to check our Seth’s book.

      • Hannah and Chris
      • Reply
  4. I love this post because of its honesty. Unexpected twists and turns happen. The key is to accept and try to enjoy the detour.

    I get ‘looks’ a lot from tourists when I’m working in a restaurant overlooking the ocean for a few hours. I love what I’m doing and couldn’t be happier to be there in that moment. They think I am wasting my vacation while really I am making the most of every moment, for me and for my family since this isn’t my vacation. This is my life!

    • Sounds like you’ve got it sussed out Liisa! I love those laptop overlooking the ocean in a restaurant moments!

      • Hannah and Chris
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