Setting Down Stealth Mode

For those of us heavily engaged in Lifestyle design, it can be tempting to feel like we’re cheating the system. I mean, obviously “they system” (as Tyler Durden and a slew of counter culture characters, fictional and living, have told us) is rigged… rigged to keep us unsatisfied, so we’ll buy stuff we can’t afford, and have to keep working, generally at jobs we’re not passionate about, which allows the system to produce more stuff to sell us because we’re unsatisfied with working all the time. Money and man hours keep getting fed to the machine. Continue reading “Setting Down Stealth Mode”

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The Path of Entrepreneurship: Leaving the Kids

I’d been out of town for days, and there was no word from my administrative manager. She’d have an end-of-week report coming in tomorrow, according to the schedule we’d crafted, and she’d completed the beginning of the week account review, as she’d been doing for months now, but in between? Silence.

Could everything really be going that smoothly? Continue reading “The Path of Entrepreneurship: Leaving the Kids”

The Path of Entrepreneurship: Learning to Pivot

I’d worked for years, trying to get my company to the point where it didn’t need me involved in daily operations. Specifically, my aim was “how many more clients do we need, before I can afford my current lifestyle, without having to run any sessions myself?” I thought that question, and that number, were the keys to the location-independent lifestyle I longed for. Continue reading “The Path of Entrepreneurship: Learning to Pivot”

The Path of Entrepreneurship: Their First Sale

My entrepreneurship journey on this site won’t read chronologically. I just shared my origin story, but I have to jump ahead, because last week was a milestone week, and I have to write about it to process it. Continue reading “The Path of Entrepreneurship: Their First Sale”

Cost of Nomadic Living: Bali

I spent the last 2 ½ months soaking up the relaxed tropical bliss of Bali. Don’t misunderstand though — just because I spent time sipping coconuts, swapping life stories, and gazing at the lightning of distant thunderstorms, doesn’t mean that I left behind everything from home.

One deep-seated passion that came through each day with me? Spreadsheets.

Continue reading “Cost of Nomadic Living: Bali”

How to Travel on the Cheap

Feel like you can’t afford to travel?  It might be more accessible than you think.  

I’m currently on pace to spend about $30 a day for my several-month trip in Bali — allowing me to live on a total of about $1400/month, including financial obligations in the states (student loans, websites, car insurance, etc.).  My extended-travel example is particularly dramatic, but even for quick getaways, you might be surprised by how far you can go with a few basic practices:

Stay for free.  In some countries, www.couchsurfing.org has a robust and active culture-sharing community.  In others, doing a work-trade 4-5 hours a day in exchange for room and board is your best (and most deeply integrated with locals) way to money-less accomodation.  Check www.workaway.info, or www.wwoof.org. There is sometimes a small membership fee to join, and contact hosts, but well worth the meaningful experiences available and hotel money saved.

-Preview Budget accommodation.  If you don’t want to work for your bed, or you’re going to a place without a big couchsurfing culture, use the beauty of the sharing economy to find your homestay, guesthouse, or hostel online.  www.Airbnb.com is one of my standbys, and I’ve just been introduced to my new best friend in Bali: www.booking.com

-Hack your flights.  If you’ve managed to get to a point where you’re not carrying credit card debt, and are comfortable opening and responsibly managing some new cards, you can be rewarded handsomely for your discipline.  My first year of travel hacking, I flew to Australia, New York, Puerto Rico, and took a first-class overnight train ride up the west coast, all for less than $300.  I’m currently in Bali on a free ticket from LA (acutally about $100 after taxes and fees).  There are a ton of great travel hacking blogs and experts out there, but I started learning from Chris Guillibeau.

Protect yourself from thieving banks back home. Open a Charles Schwab Investor Checking account.  ATMs are the “travellers checks” of the modern day, and your Schwab debit card is an international traveller’s best friend.  Most banks absolutely gouge you on international ATM withdrawals, with foreign transaction fees and currency conversion fees, in addition to any fees charged by the local ATM itself.  Schwab charges neither of those, and actually reimburses any ATM fees occurred anywhere in the world.
(Note that you’ll need to also open a Schwab brokerage account to link it to, but it’s a simple process and you don’t actually need to do anything with the brokerage account. )

HT to Nomadic Matt for this travel game-changer.

-Get Travelers insurance.  You never know what will happen.  Nothing will drain your future travel budget faster than having to pay out of pocket for an extended hospital stay or medical evacuation service.  Don’t do it.  This trip, I’m insured with www.InsureandGo.com.  Nomadic Matt also has some great insurance guidelines, including a link to a site where you can compare available options.

Learn How to Say “No Thank You” in your host country’s language.  And maybe a few other polite refusals (eg: Not now, maybe later, It’s not my style, etc.)… You’ll be better equipped to cope with pushy street merchants (who will almost always be asking exorbitant prices) if you see it as a chance to practice your language skills, rather than an overwhelming ordeal that confuses you into spending money you didn’t intend to.

-Eat like a local.  I’d bet for most travellers, dining in western style restaurants, and filling their nights with fancy cocktails eat away at their travel funds the fastest.  Watch where the locals eat, and go there.  In Bali, I’m currently eating delicious fried rice and veggie dishes for about $1-$2 per meal.  If I’m in a tropical fruit mood (and when are you not?)  I can eat my fill for less than $1.

-Research what’s hard to find there, before you go.  Apparently good sunscreens and mosquito repellent that don’t feel like they’re eating away the top few layers of your skin are quite expensive to import to Bali.  I made sure to pack a couple big bottles of those at home where they’d be cheaper, but held off on shampoo, clothes, etc. knowing all that would be cheaper abroad.  Google will easily help you find other travelers recommendations and packing lists.

-Always have a pocket full of snacks. Sharing food is the language of human connection, and enthusiastically feeding people wherever you go creates an unexpected and magic sense of community and opens a ton of doors to opportunities you couldn’t possibly plan or buy through a travel agent.  “Us” and “them” thinking is expensive to maintain.  Give to the world, and she’ll open up for you.

Career Advice From Balinese Bugs

I sat down at my open-air desk, in Bali, with fields of green in front of me, and a gentle air blowing in off the ocean behind me, intending to write a very different blog post than this. Just as I began to write, I was interrupted by some rather friendly tropical bugs…   I didn’t know ants had a thing for keyboards, but I’m having to do a delicate dance of key selection to avoid crushing the poor little things as I type, so watch out folks.. Might want to seal those keyboards in plastic to avoid an infestation at home.

I’m in Bali because I’ve spent the last 7 years building a business that is now providing just enough small monthly income, without too much involvement from me, to travel in Southeast Asia, and figure out what’s next.  I couldn’t live in the west off its current proceeds, but my heart won’t let me pursue growth in that current business as a full-time gig.  There’s a clear demand from within for something else vocationally, and I’m exploring, among other things, what that “something else” might be.

The view just next to my desk - certainly not a bad place for exploration.
The view just next to my desk – certainly not a bad place for exploration.

I’ve had quite a few conversations lately about how the notion that we’re supposed to have a singular career just doesn’t seem to fit for many of us.  It feels somehow off that there’s supposed to be one central  thing we do our whole lives that provides the vast majority of our income, fulfillment, and self-expression.  

I don’t buy it.

Just like I don’t buy that I’m supposed to go out and find that one perfect person for that one perfect relationship, who’ll meet all my different needs, and we’ll live happily ever after.  Not only is that the classic trap of “I”ll be happy when” thinking, but there’s a heck of a lot of different kinds of support, play, affection, adventure, and companionship that this mind and body seem to need.  To expect one person to meet all of those would be at best demanding, and at worst, cruel.  I keep close relationships with quite a few different people, dear friends who each meet me at a slightly different part of my personality, and who all together create a fulfilled life of human interaction.  I don’t think it makes sense, for most of us humans, to reserve our vast expanses of humanity, tenderness, and shared exploration, for just one person we’ve chosen as a romantic partner.  Similarly, I don’t think it makes sense for many of us now to reserve all our brilliance, expression, learning, and time, to just one career path.

Lots of friends. Lots of Jobs.
Lots of friends. Lots of Jobs.

Lots of friends. Lots of jobs.

It’s not an easy mindset change.  I catch myself frequently returning to “what do I want to be when I grow up?” Sort of thinking.. Or, more uncomfortably, “What do I want to do with the REST OF MY LIFE?”.  That question’s just not helpful. It acts like it is, popping to mind multiple times a day, but it’s actually way too overwhelming. I can’t possibly presume to imagine what the next 50+ years will bring.

Plus, I change my mind.  It happens.  A lot.  And I’m learning to be okay with that. After having been busting ass  in my current field for the last 10 years, even with having the freedoms of being my own boss the last 7 of those 10, thinking of committing to a multi-decade career, or even another 10-year project right now, fills me with all sorts of feelings, none of which are joy.

So, as I have to remind myself every 12 hours or so, I’m interested in what’s now, and what’s just next, not the million things after that.

What’s now is using caution to avoid becoming an insect steamroller, while wondering if ants crawling under the keys of a laptop computer will be the death of its circuitry, or if the sweat dripping from my hands attempting to type in this giant outdoor sauna will have that honor.

The center of the action
The center of the action

Next, after this trip, will be something that feels “seasonal”.  Short-term, without the need for years of ground-laying, and fun.  I’m thinking “project” instead of “job”.  I’m thinking expression and fulfillment and joy, that happens to also provide income, and is expressly temporary.  I’m letting a bunch of ideas tickle that fancy, while keeping most of my focus on being on this trip, while on this trip.  

These ants just won’t let me stay present though.  They seem to want to crawl right under whatever finger has reached to click on my laptop trackpad.  They come in close enough to just brush under my skin, but not so directly under that they wind up squished… and then run away under the keys again. It’s like they want to come over, and just be touched before going on their way. I watched this with confounded chuckles for a few moments, following their movement with my thoughts, until they lead back to one of those next project ideas.

I’d earlier had this idea, you see, to use the massage skill I learned working as a personal fitness trainer for the previously mentioned decade, in combination with my delight in energy work and intuitive practices, to offer spiritual bodywork sessions. Since one of my next big interest points when I return to the states is paying back the loans I still carry from Spiritual Psychology grad school, this seems like a fitting and energetically-aligned way to move forward on that goal:  Make a project of paying back my spiritual education, with offerings of spiritually-focused touch.

And here I am, trying to “do some work” writing in Bali, and these little ants just won’t stop coming over to get their mini massages.  I suppose that’s what’s now.  For the last decade I’ve been a personal trainer. In a few months, I’ll likely be something else.  For now, I’m a massage therapist for ants.  And somehow, that seems exactly right.