Who Loves You?
No man is an island – or so says the famous 17th Century English poet John Donne.
Whilst the attraction of becoming a Digital Nomad has a lot to do with having the freedom of choice to do what you love, it is going to impact on the lives of people who are close to you – and that has to be a major consideration before making that final call.
Ask yourself, “Who are the people I care about that are going to be impacted if I decide to become a Digital Nomad”? Depending on your circumstance, the list you generate could be very long or extremely short!
Some of the possible people on the list could be:
- Family members (siblings, Uncles, Aunts, etc)
- Close friends
- Business partners
- Business associates
- Clients & customers
Take my situation as an example – The catalyst for considering adopting the Digital Nomad lifestyle was the impending graduation from high school of my wife’s teenage daughter. Once she graduated, she would not require the same level of support she had needed up until that point.
This meant that my wife and I would be able to consider embarking on a new chapter in our lives – one that enabled us to concentrate more on our dreams & desires as our responsibilities for raising a child substantially diminished (but were not totally eliminated!).
After what would amount to more than 10 years in a very demanding job (by the time her daughter graduated), my wife was ready for a change. This would involve a move of some sort. We could either move within our current region (South East Queensland, Australia) to, say, Brisbane or the Gold Coast, which would allow me to retain my then business structure.
Or we could consider an interstate move – more than likely Victoria or South Australia. Which would require some adjustments to my then business structure.
Or we could pursue my wife’s “Dream” (or as my friend, Travis Bell, would call it, her “Bucket List” item) – to live & work overseas – Germany being the destination of choice given my wife’s German heritage. This requiring a total restructure of my business – how I earned my living.
We chose the “Bucket List” option – our thinking being that we would have to move somewhere no matter what choice we made (so disruption was always going to happen for us). The challenge then lay with restructuring my business model & my wife finding employment!
How we then went about making that happen is for another time (stay tuned because it’s an interesting story!).
Having made that choice a number of people were going to be impacted – in our case it was my wife’s daughter & immediate family (mother, sister & brother), my brothers and our close friends. We brought all of these people up to speed on our plans over a period of about 6 months.
The key issue we discussed with my wife’s daughter was how our decision would likely affect her & our ideas around dealing with that. She had already discussed with us the idea of having a “Gap” year once she finished high school before starting her university course – which we supported. So we also extended to her an invitation to join us in Germany until she needed to return to Australia.
Naturally, she was nervous about how her life would look if we (and especially her Mum) was across the other side of the world. So there were quite a few conversations around that over an extended period.
For the rest of the family & our friends, it was a case of letting them know our “News” & then having conversations around what that might mean. For most, the conversation ended up where they were considering coming over to visit us at some stage of our stay in Germany! This has already happened with some – hopefully more will become a part of that as time goes on.
From a business perspective, I had to manage relationships with my clients carefully, making sure to let them know, as appropriate to their needs, what was happening & what the impact on them (if any) would be and how I intended to manage that.
For the most part, they were very open to the fact that I was moving on. Some are with me still, some I have introduced to colleagues who can take care of their needs & some have gone their own way – none were upset or annoyed with my decision & all appreciated how I kept the lines of communication open.
Of course, the biggest impacts were always going to be between my wife and myself – despite the fact that it was a joint decision to go down this path. That is a continuing story but one that, so far (touch wood!) is unfolding without surprises and an amazing amount of happiness & understanding.
I certainly couldn’t be the Nomad I am today without my wife’s support & understanding. Then again, she couldn’t pursue her “Bucket List” desire to live & work overseas without my support – isn’t that the basis of all successful relationships though – mutual needs being met, each by the other?
Here is the incontrovertible truth – you cannot be a Digital Nomad without the support of the people you care about. Even if you are a “Single” person. There are always going to be people around you who will be impacted by this choice you have made – after all, none of us are an island!
However, if you carefully consider what you intend doing, involve those you care about in the process and keep your communication lines open, there aren’t going to be any surprises that cannot be dealt with.