Five Years as a Digital Nomad Traveling the World....Here is what I've learned!
I was rummaging through my parents basement. Other than my travel gear (a Thule backpack designed for digital nomads and my roll along carry-on suitcase) I own very few things. In my parents basement are about 4 tubs of miscellaneous items from my past, one of the tubs is loaded with past journals, books, notes from personal development seminars, CD’s on NLP, sales, business and personal growth and The Secret DVD. I was visiting my parents house and the year was 2013. As I was looking through that old tub of miscellaneous things I came across a journal from six years ago. On that dust covered journal that had sat in the tub for six years a quick memory of a promise I made myself flashed in my mind. On the outside of the journal I could see paperclips holding a few pages together in the book. They were actually there to seal the pages and to remind myself that five years after writing in it, I should open it up and read it again. Inside those pages were predictions. Predictions of what I wanted for my life in the next 3-5 years. Predictions I wanted more than anything in the world. It was to serve as a roadmap. One that would create my fate, and it was to be sealed up for at least five years before it was read again. At that moment, six years later, that memory had come back to me and I blew off the dust that covered the journal and began to see how my fate was sealed.
As I opened and read through the pages I realized that my younger self had nailed some predictions on the head. I also realized that my younger self had some boastful overly confident predictions as well. One of them being ‘Make $1,000,000 by the age of 30’….I failed miserably on that one! But, there were many that had come true, and a few that seemed so foreign to me, I was actually happy they didn’t come true. There were some very happy moments and accomplishments I had achieved, and some not so fulfilling. As I started to finish my predictions from six years prior I came across the final words I had written and they hit me like a ton of bricks. In November of 2007 I had written “Always remember the big adventure that you will take!” At the time I had little idea on what that meant. I knew I would travel and see amazing places. I knew I had a very unique contribution to the world that I wanted to give. I knew something grand was going to take place, but I didn’t know exactly what it was.
It had shocked me because I had just gotten back from Europe. For the previous 3 years I had lived in Costa Rica, Peru and Spain. Spent a year learning to surf on the beach in Costa Rica. I had climbed the country’s tallest mountain to raise money for special needs children. I had hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and also started a project to build a sustainable farm for malnourished children in Peru. I had built websites that produced income online. I had figured out how to live anywhere in the world and make money as long as I had a decent internet connection. I had lived in three cities in Spain and hiked 500 miles across a damn country…and preparing to do it a second time. I had met the most amazing people from all over the world, made lifelong friends with those that live in extreme poverty and those that live in extreme wealth. I had lived a live worth living, a life that left a legacy, a life that gave back, and I realized that my prediction had come true. At that moment, the moment I saw my prediction, “Always remember the big adventure you will take!” I realized I was smack-dab in the middle of that adventure, and it was the most amazing adventure one could ask for. The great thing about it, was that I knew it wasn’t over. There was still much more to come.
Since that moment, I have had many more adventures. I started a new business brining entrepreneurs together grow their own businesses in different cities around the world. I have added some more countries that I have traveled to, and also lived in Barcelona, Thailand and Brazil. I walked 500 miles across Spain again, this time raising money to build a home for slave children in Ghana. I have kept that incredible adventure going, and it continues to unfold every single day.
We already know exactly what we are supposed to do with our lives. We just need the courage to trust the little voice that says “Do it!”.
Today, nine years after I made that prediction, I sit in Taghazout a small beach town in the south of Morocco listening to Islamic chants from the mosque down the hill and the sounds of children playing soccer. The locals are selling goods at the market on the plaza and a few guys are trying to sell camel rides on the beach. I think back on that moment and how incredible it was that I could predict my own future from a simple journal entry.
We already know exactly what we are supposed to do with our lives. We just need the courage to trust the little voice that says “Do it!”. The little voice that pushes us to do the things we are destined to do. It is not easy, and it is scary, but if we want to step into our true selves, if we want to see our dreams unfold we have to make that leap.
Time is standing still today. The Atlantic ocean looks as though it is not moving and almost looks more like a painting than a moving body of water. The mosque in the foreground is painted blue and white because the king recently decreed that all buildings in this small town be painted those colors. Here in a land where I know most of my friends and family will never visit, life is peaceful, beautiful and calm. Kids play, adults work, and when religion calls for prayer, most people ignore the call and stay active in their busy day….just like everywhere else, life is good, life is damn good.
I am writing this because this month marks my five year anniversary starting my ‘Big Adventure’. I packed my bags and left the United States in April 2011 for the journey of a lifetime. I am still on that journey and couldn’t be happier. So I thought it only appropriate to share with the world what I have learned from the previous five years. What the world had taught me, how it has made me a better person and what I truly hope adds value to your life and your ‘Big Adventure’.
On Material Things….
~Seek experiences above material things. There is a time an place for material things in life. Most of us reading this are rich in wealth compared to most of the world. We live in our three bedroom houses full of things from our past. We refuse to get rid of things that just sit in our garage and basements for years and years. We are rich in material wealth, and most of us use those materials very rarely. Some of the most influential people of the world have been poorer than any of us, but yet their lives were happier, more fulfilled and more influential. Experiences are that which give us wisdom and a true education. The more we seek those experiences of our truest desire, the more we will grow in the direction of our dreams and the more our internal wealth and wisdom will expand.
Seek experiences above material things.
~We all have dreams that are so big, it is nearly impossible to understand how to create them. Don’t let that stop you. Have that dream, hold on to it tight and work hard to make it happen.
~The world can be a scary place….if you let it. My first few month in Costa Rica I was on guard every single day with every single person I met. I was told dozens of times before moving to Costa Rica that I needed to protect my belongings because the country was full of thieves and that nothing was ever safe. After, three months of distrust because of this belief, I decided to just let it go. It was a silly ideal that others had made up to try and protect me. After, thirteen months in Costa Rica, I never had anything stolen, or any problem with the locals. They were quite the opposite, kind, hospitable, fun, adventurous, generous and very good people. After exploring the depths of the Amazon, hanging out in the favelas of Brazil, and seeing the world for what it really is, I will be the one to tell you that this world in an incredible place. It is overwhelming safe, fun and adventurous. Most all the people in the world want to work to provide for themselves and their families. Live a good life and let others do the same. For some reason we like to listen for the drama and malice. We like to look for the bad things in any situation….don’t by into it. Goodness is happening everywhere all the time and it massively outweighs the bad in this world.
~Everything that happens to you is a lesson. You will have many trials and errors in your life. Ups and downs, highs and lows. The greatest service that you can do for yourself is to hold on to this ideal when it all comes crashing down. When life kicks you down over and over again, remember this experience is happening to make you better. Just like a dirty car that has to pass through an automatic car wash to get sparkly clean on the other side. Or the caterpillar that needs to struggle out of its cocoon to grow wings and become a butterfly. We all need that too, and it will happen many, many, many times throughout our lives. As soon as we embrace the idea that our low times, are just times of trial, then we can appreciate those times as much as the high times.
“You are in control of your fear.”
Motorcycle trip through the jungles of Northern Thailand
~Become good friends with the poor and become good friends with the wealthy. This will give you a balanced look on life. The amount that you can learn from both groups is incredible. The poor can teach you happiness with nothing, the wealthy can teach you to create income in ways that seem impossible to most. Both categories of people have an a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share.
On Meeting a Man That had Died and Came Back….
~During my travels I met a former agnostic neurosurgeon who went into meningitis induced coma for seven days. During this time he was brain-dead. His cerebral cortex was completely shut down. This is the part of the brain where thought and action are created. He went to the ‘afterworld’ during this time. Some people would describe his experience as fluctuating between heaven and hell. I listened to him tell his story about this experience in the ‘afterworld’. He believed that he was brought back to send messages to help the collective consciousness of the world. One of the things he learned is that we have nothing to fear in this world. No experience, no people, no circumstance, no financial loss or debt, no threat, nothing. It is all a perfect design to experience exactly what we are supposed to experience. He said we are never alone, we are never unloved. We experience the feeling of loneliness and lack of love for a very good reason. It is so we appreciate it so much more when it is present. No different than oxygen. We never really appreciate oxygen until we are without it. It is like this with all things in the world. Love, money, happiness, kindness, all of our experiences are on purpose for us to see the value and feel the value of things when we have them. This creates appreciation, and gratitude.
“We can only see what our brain’s filter allows.”
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”
Eban Alexander, Former Agnostic Neurosurgeon
~Seek the truth above profit. It will never serve you to make a bit of money by withholding the truth.
~Learn to create money without a job. If you can do this, you no longer need to rely on employers to produce income. This is an incredible and powerful talent to have. To produce your own income in any situation means that you can provide for yourself, your family, and your dreams when you need. It also means you can potentially provide for others, and their families and their dreams. It is one of the most incredible and powerful skills one can obtain.
~If you want to make money, you have to serve. You have to serve people in an incredible way to make the money you desire. True wealth is about service. It serves no man to gain the world, and at the end of the day be empty and feel like they add no value to others. When their life is complete they will end up lonely, angry and unhappy.
~This is a lesson that I have learned over and over and over again. Life is a marathon. To get where you want to go, it takes small consistent steps on a day to day basis. The idea of ‘The Big Payoff’ is the same as ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’. Those that get ‘The Big Payoff’ do so from years of hard work and determination.
Start your dream business NOW, start building it consistently, work hard at it and don’t give up.
~Learn to save a bit of your money. As Robert Kiyosaki says, “It is not how much money you make, it is how much money you keep.” This will become very true as time passes. I have a an investment account for myself and knowing that it is there keeps me focused on the bigger picture. There is very little threat of losing it all and going back to zero.
Learn to manage your money and manage it well.
~Money does not change you, it makes you more of what you already are. If your have good habits and make good decisions, you will have more good habits and make more good decisions with a lot of money. If you have destructive habits, those destructive habits and decisions will also magnify. Money never had and never will have the power to change a person. It magnifies that persons influence and power, but it cannot change a person. Saying money changes a person is like saying a hammer can change a person. You can use that hammer to destruct or to construct, it’s the same with money. People create this negative ideal with money all over the world. Money is evil, business people are bad, salesmen are shady, if that person made a lot of money, he or she must have done something very evil, money is the root of all evil. The overwhelming majority of personal wealth has been created by providing some type of material value to the world. The clothes that you are wearing, the computer you are using, the building you are sitting in probably made someone very rich because that took the risk to create a business that delivers those products. Again, don’t buy into the hype that the world is overwhelming negative. This is one of the most destructive mentalities that exists amongst our world, and what stops us from creating something better.
Money does not change you, it makes you more of what you already are.
Sunset over Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
On the Three Essential Things for a Fulfilling Life….
~Somewhere along the line I learned this: To live a fulfilling life we need to learn and master three things.
1. Learn how to live.
2. Learn how to love.
3. Learn how to die.
Many people struggle so much with #1 that the never even get the chance to truly experience #2 and #3. Most people won’t even get to the point where they understand what #3 means.
'Learning how to live’ means learning how to create a fulfilling life. How to embrace your true self and your dreams. How to make the most of each moment, each success and each failure. So when we do lay on our deathbed’s we look back on our lives and a sense of gratitude is felt for making the best of your time in this life.
‘Learning how to love’ is another lesson that is truly important for a fulfilling life. To embrace love, to understand love and to give love. Many people live an entire life and never even learn how to love themselves. This is a taught behavior based on circumstances when they were young and sometimes never forget. Love yourself, love your dreams, and love others.
‘Learning how to die’. Death is inevitable. it will come for us all. We can choose to ignore this fact or we can embrace it. The author Mark Twain knew as a young boy exactly how he was going to die. I personally think most of us do. I think deep down we all have an idea. Twain was born on Nov. 30th 1835, the day Hailey’s Comet was closet to earth and visible from his home. He knew all his life that he would die when Hailey’s comet returned, April 20th, 1910. He died one day later. I truly believe we need to be prepared for death, this way, when death comes everything is in order and those left behind will have less stress and pain because we had planned out all the details for them. All of us will experience losing a loved one. Not only is it traumatic that we lose someone we love, but then we also have the distress of organizing all of the plans of the funeral, the financial arrangements, and communicating to the family about what to do with any material possessions. It takes courage to plan our own death, but empowerment comes from it. We can imagine and plan how we want things to go, to ease the pain of others and embrace the fact that moment will come for us all.
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” Mark Twain
Costa Rica Sunset
On the Ways of the World….
~Our dreams are given to us for a reason. We don’t know what that reason it, but we will find it if we follow those dreams.
~There is literally nothing in the world that can stop pure intention. If your desire and intention is clear enough and you are courageous enough to walk towards those dreams, they will become reality.
~Nothing is impossible, nothing at all.
~You will get knocked down many times, just make sure to get back up.
~Take time to read. Reading opens our eyes to world’s undiscovered. Ideas that change our lives in ways we never would imagine. Reading is a breath of fresh air when our minds our shut off.
~Learning never stops. Your real education begins after college or university. The more you embrace learning the more you will empower yourself.
~People all over the world would see the homes we live in and immediately wish to have the wealth we do. They ask themselves “How can they live in such abundance and still be ungrateful?” They long to have homes like ours, but never will. We look at our homes and see a roof that needs fixing, a yard that need watering, a basketball hoop that is old and decayed, a deck in desperate need of repair, and then we look at those that have homes nicer than ours and think to ourselves how nice life would be if we had their house, their job, their cars, their spouse, their life. We envy others not even knowing what their lives truly look like. People do this all over the world and it all comes from not practicing gratitude. If gratitude is magnified by anything, it is by consistent habits. If you want your dream life, no matter what that looks like, it is a habit to work on daily. If you want to stop smoking you must work on it daily. If you want to lose weight, you must work on it daily. If you want to grow your financial wealth, you must work on it daily. If you want to be grateful of your life, and a happier person, you must work on it daily. It is a consistent growth process and one that will change your life completely.
Practice gratitude daily.
~It still amazes me how much we like to separate ourselves and think that ‘our way’ or ‘our culture’ is better than another. This, I believe, is arrogance at its worst. We all have incredible ways of living and seeing the world, just because one is different than yours doesn’t mean that yours is better. It is just different. Just like a pair of shoes. One pair of shoes is great for me, and they can be a very damaging to the feet of another. The world is like this…there are no foreigners. If you put an American and a Afghani on another planet and take away their right to return home. You can be sure that they would fight together to try and get back home. To get back to the same planet where their friends and family are. We are all one in this life. It is ridiculous to separate ourselves between race, religion, gender, or sexual preferences. Think if you traveled to a country that separated itself based on eye color. The brown-eyes vs. blue-eyes, fighting each other. Teaching their children that brown-eyes are superior to blue-eyes and the blue-eyed people worship a false God, have poor habits and smell funny. A blue-eyed father would disown his daughter if she married a brown-eyed man. And society would shun a mixed-eyed couple. Then their children, God forbid, would be ostracized because they had a blue-eyed mother and a brown-eyed father. The politicians would take away the rights for mixed-eyed families and children. The religions would prophesy the end of the world due to mixed-eyed families. They would tell their congregation that they needed to fight to keep brown-eyed people together. Brown-eyed families are the way of God and to mix would be against his will. Think about how ridiculous we would see this society. Think about how stupid we would think these people are for separating themselves based on eye color. We do that. We do that exact same thing every single day, in every country, city, and town around the world. Many people in Costa Rica hate the people from Nicaragua and vise versa. Many people from the Andes mountains are racist against those from the big cities of Peru. The Catalans hate the Spanish, and the Shiites hate the Sunnis. Christian Baptists disagree with Christian Methodists, and most Christians are afraid of the Christian Mormons, when the Christian Mormons have three different sects that all disagree. Catholics for many years hated and suppressed the Jewish, just as Christianity and Islam now are fighting head to head. The light skinned asians prejudge and look down at dark skinned asians. People of Missouri dislike the people from Kansas and there are still many Northerners that think the South is completely uneducated and racist. Northern Ireland still fights with Southern Ireland, the people in Wales will be in disgust if you call them English. Argentina and Brazil are true rivals and no one can really explain why. Right-Winged vs Left-Winged, Capitalists vs. Socialists, Republican vs. Democratic politicians from all around the world continue replicate this behavior and teach the public that it is necessary. Tribes in Africa that look and act exactly the same to us have centuries of hatred running through their past, as well as in people in India, Mongolia, and Russia. The list can go on and on. Every region in the world is plagued with the ideal that they are better than another. That their customs and traditions are superior to others. This is a disease of the mind that does nothing but decay this world, our eyes and hearts must be opened for any change to happen. If we want to create a better world for generations to come we have to let go of this mentality and open ourselves up to understanding one another.
“Never forget the big adventure that you will take.”
Sacred Valley, Peru