The 6 crucial pieces of the location independence puzzle
Our recent ‘office’ in New Zealand
From the outside looking in, a location independent lifestyle seems very awesome (exotic travelling pictures speak a thousand words!) but, for the mere mortal, incredibly difficult to achieve. It’s so frustrating to know in your soul what you want your life to look like, but to feel that however much you stretch, it always lies just beyond the reach of your fingertips.
Have you started your race?
Honestly, it doesn’t have to be so hard. The worst stage to be in is when you are just behind the starting line. Once the gun fires and the race is underway you know that you just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other to get to the finish. Each step gives you the momentum to power on to the next. But waiting indefinitely on the benches, knowing what is in front of you but just not making that start can be agonising.
Know what the pieces are so you can start to slot them together
There are so many pieces of the puzzle to slot together that creating a more flexible lifestyle can feel very overwhelming. The easiest way to tackle it is to break it down into manageable segments. Then you can see what areas you are making progress in, where you need to focus your attention, and what is left to do.
From our experience of five years of world travel while running our business, here is what we think you need to focus on.
Deciding you want to have more freedom so you can ‘travel’ just scratches the surface. If you go into a travel agency and say ‘I want to book a holiday’ the first thing they are going to ask is where do you want to go. The great thing about location independence is that where you want to be based is likely to change over time, but as a starting point you need to fix a destination clearly in mind.
Arriving at your destination is a lot easier if you know where it is! Work out what you are looking for, your ‘must haves’ and ‘would be nice if’s’. Figure out what is important to you and finding your destination becomes a lot easier.
Kristen is a part time teacher in Chicago. Her daughter moved to Australia last year. Kristin knows she wants to be able to spend several months of each year in Sydney. Joey runs a business from home but feels stuck in a rut. He likes the idea of exploring New Zealand for several months whilst running his business remotely.
A mistake that a lot of people make is to confuse ‘business’ with ‘passion’. You need to think about what is more important to you; a location independent, or flex-pat, lifestyle – or making a living out of your life’s purpose. If your priority is to be location independent then your focus needs to be entirely on what skills, opportunities, relationships or experience you can leverage in order to earn a living from wherever you please. The chances are the new lifestyle you will choose will cost less than the one you are living now- which means you will work fewer hours to sustain a better way of life. It will free up several hours a week where you can explore your passion to your heart’s content- and probably feel a lot more inspired and empowered by your new environment as you do so. But this is not your priority, it’s a luxury.
The foundation of your new life is when you know you can earn money from wherever you please. That will bring you all the freedom you need to fill the rest of your life with whatever you want, so don’t get sidetracked or confused. Unless you have a clear business model and eager market, following your passion right now may not serve you best.
John sells car parts for a living. He has a lot of experience in this area so it makes sense that he sets up a speciality car parts website. He is figuring out how to do this in his spare time and will build it up to make enough money that he can quit his job. Then he will spend a few hours a week developing this, and the rest training to be a scuba diving instructor in SE Asia- his passion.
You might think that business is the big stumbling block, but actually THIS is the biggie. If you don’t get your mindset right, you won’t be going anywhere. A lot of people dream about a location independent lifestyle in a sort of fantasy way because deep down they will never quite prioritise doing the things to make it happen. The rest of you know it will happen and you translate that belief into action.
If you truly believe it is possible for you to change your life so you have the freedom to live and work where you please you will move heaven and earth to make this happen. If deep down you aren’t sure it’s possible for you, the risks associated with taking action will always seem too great.
A fantastic way of shifting a stubborn mindset is to hang around people who have already achieved what you are striving for. Not only will you get used to seeing it work in practice it will also act as a great counter-balance to all those people in your life who will tell you it isn’t possible. So surround yourself with people who will inspire and encourage you and tell yourself everyday that you can do it. It will sink in eventually, and that’s when your world will really start shifting!
None of us live in a vacuum; the people around us influence our choices. There is no point striding purposefully towards your goal of location independence if when you get there you are faced with the conflict of having to leave your loved ones behind. If you aren’t travelling solo you need to figure out how partners and kids fit into the picture.
There are other relationships which also need your attention. Business partnerships or support networks, friends and community. The social ties we form weave a web to support us. Sometimes that web can feel too constrictive and we need to extricate ourselves to be able to grow. Either way, this area needs your attention if you want to avoid problems down the line.
Karla quit her stressful and well paid job and set up on her own coaching consultancy. She was totally focused and each step was taking her closer to location independence. The problem was her husband wasn’t on the same path. As he began to watch her take trips to Europe for a few weeks at a time it made him re-evaluate his work-life balance and decide to take early retirement. He now provides practical supports to Karla in her work and also takes on short terms freelance contracts of his own. Now they can look at taking longer and further afield trips together, without Karla feeling tied to returning home to the partner she left behind.
If you aren’t that tech savvy the world of possibilities can seem daunting. However, it’s time to change your thinking and start to rub your hands together with glee. It’s the technology that is going to set you free! These systems, programs, apps and gadgets are going to make it possible for you to do what you want, when you want, how you want. Technology isn’t just your friend, it’s your saviour, so it’s time to delve deep into what is available and how you are going to make it work for you.
Simon had deliberately avoided having things like a smart phone or iPad. As much as he wanted to be able to work remotely, he didn’t relish the thought of being so dependent on all that gadgetry. His work as a freelance writer meant he didn’t actually need to rely on too much tech. He could limit it to knowing how to secure a reliable WiFi connection and a few simple programs on his laptop. He could have used all sorts of clever gizmos to assist him as he travelled but he preferred a more traditional approach. That’s important; just use however much or little you need to make your life easier- but make sure you know what’s available so you can make an informed choice.
Even the most seasoned traveller knows not to underestimate all the small things that need to be done to make sure the trip comes off smoothly, and travelling with your business introduces a whole new set of considerations! Whether its visas or VPNs, medical insurance or interactive map downloads, there is plenty to think about. Great news is, if you have got to this stage, woohoo- you have pretty much made it!
With all this in place, the world is your playground
The one thing that is missing though from the above, which has to be the most important part is…
Just make a start TODAY!
Which of these areas is the hardest for you?
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