I may look back on this blog and have to revise it, edit it, or just document a 2.0 version of it, and that’s ok. For now.. I’m going to honor where I’m at right now, and invite you along for the ride.
This blog is for anyone who may be in the middle of a major positive change and may be experiencing doubt, discomfort, pain, and uncertainty.
It’s for those in the process of finding out who their true friends are. It’s for you if you can’t see the light at the end of your path just yet, are experienced enough to feel confident in your decision, while at the same time, you know deep down that NOTHING is certain.
I’m dedicating this blog for those who feel odd because they feel as if they “should” be excited about doing something so “glamorous” but thus far, have found the whole process to feel anything BUT. I’m writing this for those who feel ANY twinge of guilt for standing in a beautiful, exotic place, wondering how you got there, and if you should actually post that selfie on Facebook, lest your “friends” think you are showing off.
I’ve been torn lately about being completely transparent about not only the fun part about moving abroad, but the times that outright suck. I didn’t want to appear to be complaining, whining, ungrateful, etc, but I have held back because of the comments of a particular woman about a month or two ago. (This blog is also for you if there are some bastards grinding you down.. don’t let them!)
I decided that I need to go back to being myself, to fully document where I’m at. To help others understand without indulging in the judgement or projections I have personally experienced from fear-based people.. no matter how well-meaning their intentions are, or what is going on in their own troubled and highly dissatisfied minds.
The truth is, I’m enjoying the HELL out of riding this roller coaster, but I’m about done with this phase in the process. It’s not sustainable for more than a few months. But this is why I bought the ticket and gave myself a deadline!
Right now, it’s absolutely essential for me to avoid small-minded people who live a tiny, sheltered, fear-based life who choose to make assessments about why I’m making this big leap. That’s why I have a group with people who “get it,” who want to be there, to not only be a witness, but participate, support each other, and offer advice because they have been there or are considering doing something similar. I’m also choosing to “screen out” those who don’t get it, at least for now.
I hope that this blog helps anyone who is considering such a big move but also may be running into obstacles, self-sabotage, or sabotage from others.
Lucky? Privileged? Advantaged?
Yes, I do feel honored grateful that I’m even able to consider this leap. But the word “privileged” really rubs me the wrong way and doesn’t seem quite accurate. Lucky? Maybe. Maybe I’ve just had synchronicities pop up simply because I’ve told the Universe I’m freaking serious. And I believe that when this happens, the Universe conspires to help us in ways that our imaginations may not be ready for just yet.
You ARE Here.
Advantaged? Ok, sure. But an advantage is something you EARN, as opposed to pure privilege. The door can be open, but you have to walk through it. Squandering an advantage, such as opportunity, an education, contacts, or a car in my opinion, is kind of a minor “sin” in my book.
Hard Work and Sacrifice?
What about plain old HARD WORK? Sure..I’ve worked hard for this, and have made many sacrifices, but these things don’t always guarantee success. This is one of my favorite (juicy) topics:
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]How much hard work creates success? How much does the PERCEPTION that one needs to constantly “hustle” and become a martyr and a slave.. actually UNDERMINE success? How much this is truly is hard work, and how much is just plain drama or “busy-ness” that we create because we are afraid of success, failure, what people may think or say? Let’s discuss![/perfectpullquote]
Let’s take a look at what it takes, as far as work, to make this happen: (if you are not a 20-something with a trust fund) It takes an ENORMOUS amount of energy.. physical, mental, and emotional.
In the past 2 months. while still seeing patients, I’ve also:
• Gotten rid of almost everything I own
• Had 2 yard sales
• Made several “donation runs” to my favorite charity
• Sold my car
• Yes.. packed my check-in bags
• Initiated a criminal background check
• Digitized most of my books
• Experienced an untimely transmission issue with my car.. yep, right before a sale. As I write this, I’m not certain the extent of the repairs required, nor the cost.
This week, I STILL need to:
• HOPEFULLY proceed with the sale of my practice. This is a HUGE deal.
• Gather documents for apostille.
• Settle a court summons for expired tags (and a police officer who couldn’t wait long enough for me to log into my app to provide proof of insurance) scheduled August 2nd. If it’s not cleared up.. oh well. I won’t be there. I’ll have a warrant. (I’m almost amused by this, based on another expat who has a similar experience. We’re already joking about it!)
• Get insurance for my electronic devices.. as well as basic health insurance
• Figure out what do as far as mobile phone service
• Find a way to get another HD backup.. and finance a new laptop
• Stop mail service
• Recruit someone in the US to handle mail
As I write this, I’m doing all this while crashing at a friend’s house or in my clinic.
Without losing my passport or my mind. (writing helps)
How much of this was the kind of work that makes best use of my time and gets things done?
How much was “busy work?” (I certainly did create some of that)
How much of it was possibly drama that I created, even on a subconscious level? (The traffic ticket, the court summons, and the possible warrant)
How much time did I spend in total RESISTANCE? (Feeling exhausted, uninspired, and unable to get even the simplest task accomplished)
During this time, I have been neglecting my online business in the process. That alone could easily be a 13 hour a day gig. (Which doesn’t bother me)
So.. yeah.. hard work. Just because you are able to “look busy” doesn’t mean the big U is going to give you any prizes. I’m a big fan of working SMARTER, not HARDER, but I have a long way to go!
Uncertainty and Risk
As I write this, I’m also uncertain whether I’ll be in Europe starting with $600 or $6,000 or more, depending on car repairs or a meeting I have this week. This income from selling assets, may be my sole means of income for 3-6 months, but for sure I’ll be working again in my online business a week from now.
To me, sure, it’s a dream, but it’s a major life change and a BIG risk. The stakes seem high to me right now, even though I may (hopefully) be laughing at myself in a few months for making this all seem like such a big deal.
In the end, it will be business as usual.. as if I were simply just moving across the country without a job lined up. (Which I know is quite common.. been there, done that too and know many more who have done the same)
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I’m certainly not complaining because I’m a natural with risk and adventure. Things usually end up turning out OK.. or even quite well. I have LOTS of good stories to bore you with over a beer.[/perfectpullquote]
I have also set up multiple streams of income for myself online.. everything from helping others with “tech” issues to voice-over work to health coaching. I’ll be exploring the option of importing wine from the Balkan region, (just preliminary investigation at this point.. but I see a possible opportunity) and setting up another acupuncture clinic, if I have the strength to deal with the bureaucracy.
Hopefully, most of my days will involve working from some of my favorite cafes. Yes.. I’m going to focus on this. On what I want, not on the “bad” things that COULD happen.
Faith and Maintaining Energy
I’m open for employment opportunities, but won’t be depending on it. Certainly not in Croatia. As long as it contributes to my overall goal.. of staying in Europe while using the combination skills I worked so hard to obtain to create something unique.
I’m also finding that developing my own brand of faith (I’m not talking about religion) is helping me tremendously.
But I have a confession to make.. I’m steering clear of anyone who will take away from the energy I need to make the leap. This includes, sadly, family.
In some ways, I do feel honored and humbled, and often wonder if I deserve peace and happiness and access to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Then I realize that I invested a LOT of time, money, and energy into developing the skills that I need to survive and thrive anywhere in the world.
Of course I deserve this. Not believing this has probably been the SINGLE MOST significant roadblock to my success. I believe this so strongly that I am determined to help others who choose a similar path.
Stagnation and Sabotage
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Many people in this world are stuck. They would rather stay put than go through a tiny bit of hell in order to achieve their goals and dreams. They would rather stand on a tiny ice floe they perceive as “safe ground” and watch it melt.. instead of learning how to surf, swim, or find a boat. [/perfectpullquote]
Many would rather bring others down than lift each other up. They see a “zero sum” game.. where there are winners and losers, and everyone has to fight to win. Other people’s wins are considered a threat.
Many see your sole worth and value as the amount of money currently in your bank account. I used to joke that the only difference between being an idiot and a freaking genius in the eyes of the average person (ok, a lot of parents of people my age) isn’t about how hard you work or how talented or passionate you are.. but what’s in your bank account. Today. I could keep doing the SAME thing I did yesterday when I was broke and tired.. until tomorrow when I am successful.. with the same amount of work and drive.. and overnight. BAM. From idiot to genius. This, to me, is an awfully fucked up way of seeing the value in ourselves and others.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Most don’t appreciate that gratification isn’t instant. Which means that if you are struggling, it doesn’t mean you are a “free spirited lazy hippie idiot.” If you listen to, take to heart, and allow yourself to assume this identity by those who would call you a slacker, it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. [/perfectpullquote]
Of course, you still have to be honest with yourself, and strive for self-awareness. Every. Day. ARE you truly slacking? Making excuses? You can call yourself out on your own bullshit.. but that’s not a job for your parents or your friends or anyone else. And yes, it’s also not their job to help you in any other way, either. (This is tricky territory here, of course, and a topic for another blog)
Many resent the success of others and forget that success also requires some risk-taking and big-time faith. Many people would rather “play it safe” and wonder what happened to the past 5 years of their lives when they aren’t getting anywhere.
This may sound odd to some, but it’s basic human nature.
How many times have you sabotaged yourself due to fear of failure, success, or what others may think? (missed flights, opportunities, poor habits, etc?)
Have you ever made any comments like these, to others who are about to do something you wish you could do? (and probably COULD do if you really wanted it badly enough)
(with a flat negative tone) “Well, you are an adult and you can do whatever you want”
“Wow..is it SAFE to travel to Europe right now? I wouldn’t do that”
“I wish I could do that. It must be nice.”
“That sounds unrealistic to me”
Then there’s the comments that come from the obviously small-minded and fear-based folks that live in a tiny world and value security far more than freedom: (My first “hater” so to speak:)
“You don’t have “problems.” Other people have REAL problems.. real jobs.. your problems are “first world.”
“All you need to worry about is packing your bags and following your dream. Other people have “real” lives to worry about”
“You lack perspective about real life” (clueless)
My thoughts about this:
1. I didn’t grant her a reply but told her to stop projecting her crap on me and left it at that. She did unfriend me, thankfully, because I don’t have time for this kind of low-vibe crap.
2. I would LOVE place her right now, in the United States, in Denver, without a source of income, to see how she would do. If she could be resourceful enough to pull it off.
3. I can’t think of a more real way to live life or gain even more perspective than spending a year or two learning a language, researching, preparing, getting rid of almost ALL of my material possessions, liquidating a business and starting from scratch, and doing all of it with limited funds. It’s not for everyone, and it’s not a superior choice to settling down and having kids, for example. But this shit is REAL.
This is the price of MY brand of freedom, and I won’t give it up to please anyone who values security over freedom.
The Rich American Myth and the Origin of Money and Assets
I know that some see that I have a car and a business and assume I’m a rich American going on an extended vacation.
The physical assets that I’m selling can either help me make this leap.. or become a pile of junk and furniture taking up space.. in other words, a liability. Many (but not all, of course) who earn a steady paycheck will have a hard time wrapping their heads around where money REALLY comes from, where it leaks, and the difference between an investment, an asset, and a liability.. as well as the calculated risks and hard work involved in creating something like even the tiny business I have. It’s risky, for sure. But worth it.
Things that may seem like a luxury for someone in Colorado with a regular job, like a good laptop, a mobile phone, or a quarterly flight to London (which actually costs LESS in Europe than what Americans typically spend on an average-priced restaurant dinner or even lunch for 2) …are necessities if you are a digital nomad.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]20 years ago.. this would be considered an “elite” or “jet set” lifestyle, but it’s really becoming quite commonplace and makes financial sense for some of us. Keep in mind.. we don’t need fancy clothes, a car, or a house full of knickknacks, either.[/perfectpullquote]
Sometimes being an American can be a slight DISADVANTAGE.. especially when it comes taxes, foreign bank accounts, and starting a business. But I won’t get into that heree.
The Value of Contacts and Other Types of Leveraging
In this day and age, the value of CONTACTS is underrated by those used to the old paradigm of travel.. you save money, take two weeks off, stay in hotels and put all expenses on your American Express card. This was how my mother was able to travel. Oh my.. there are so many other options available now, but those who are used to doing things the “old way” have trouble understanding the value of contacts, especially those you meet online. Of course, the idea is to “hook up” your friends and contacts as well!
Freedom and the “Entrepreneurial Mindset”
Don’t ever tell an entrepreneur that they are afraid of work if they refuse to work for someone else, that they are “failures” because they are experiencing the struggles and failures necessary for moving forward in business, or that they “lack perspective” because it’s not the same perspective you have, as a wage-earner. If you want to remain friends. I’m not talking about the “dabblers” who really don’t want to work and are just in it for the trappings.. but if someone is serious.. it’s an entirely different matter.
It’s NOT uncommon to be the LAST one to get paid, have to ration food, and make big sacrifices so that this baby can grow. It’s not uncommon to change directions, liquidate, take what remains, and invest it into something new, knowing that what you built so far wasn’t for nothing. It’s not uncommon to take risks, and “fail forward.” This means that in order to succeed, at some point you will have to take some kind inspired action. This may also not be enough. Nowadays, you have to pay attention, be prepared, and act QUICKLY.
Spending your life in a state of quiet desperation and stagnation, hoping that things change, thinking that you have all the time in the world…or sitting around “thinking about” taking action “one day” is a guarantee for REAL failure: the failure to take action at all. Leave the complacency and traditional retirement plans to our parents, and learn to swim. Or surf. Or sail. Why not?
The Luxury of Complacency
There’s a time to make big changes, and for many, these only occur once or twice in a lifetime. It’s funny how many would claim that these changes are “unrealistic” when they are in fact the most REAL and LIFE AFFIRMING experiences you will ever have in your life. To me, “unrealistic” is just an excuse, although a convincing one, for not moving forward.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]These changes will ROCK your world.. creating not just fantastic experiences, perhaps beyond your wildest dreams, but also intense discomfort, pain, isolation, and exhaustion that will make you want to sleep for weeks.[/perfectpullquote]
The first time for me, was when I joined the Air Force in 1990 and never looked back. I can’t imagine what my life would have looked like had I stayed in Chicago looking for a regular “job” in the printing industry like my parents wanted me to do. But the way out of this trap was pretty damn jarring, to say the least.
Sometimes complacency or staying put can be MORE of a risk and guarantee a loss. For example, staying in Denver, waiting for rental prices to keep escalating while watching my earnings disappear (or being unable to keep up with it) seems like a very illogical thing to do. Even the very definition of insanity.
Indeed, the days when you could just kick back, put in your time, rely on a steady job and collect your earnings are pretty much over for many of us.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] What might appear as jumping from one thing to the next is really all about calculating the next step as we go, much like surfing or rock climbing. Your foundations take you to the next step, where you assess, then take the next step based on what you discover there. But you can’t plot the whole thing out in advance. [/perfectpullquote]
Having said that.. I would not want to live like this forever. Settling down is a wonderful thing. Having bookshelves, a bathtub, a routine and a car are not worth any less than the supposed “glamorous” nomadic lifestyle. I look forward to being in that place again!
Where I “Should” be Living?
Joining the military was also considered “acceptable,” but to my family, traveling to, letting alone moving to.. a foreign county still considered something “frivolous.”
Ballsy, maybe.. but frivolous is open for debate. Would it be frivolous if I decided to move to San Francisco, somewhere on the East coast, or even Toronto? What is so intelligent about moving to a place where you have to work twice as hard for much less?
I’m not interested in living in rural, middle America either. I know I would be miserable.
Many have outright told me I should move to Asia, where there are plenty of fellow digital nomads and the cost of living is so low.
But Europe won. Because my GUT and GUS (God, Universe, Spirit, etc) is overwhelmingly in favor of the move to Europe. Since this decision I’ve had synchronicities and help, which I absolutely attribute to having a VERY clear intention. I’m living my life intentionally, not via what others think I should be doing.
Am I “experienced” enough to travel?
Of course this is a silly question. Think about it. It’s like saying “are you experienced enough to work in your field.” You get experience ONLY by doing. But I have people accuse me of “not knowing what I’m doing” before.
Do I know EXACTLY what I’m doing? Of course not. I have some experience, but in order to get more.. I have to be willing to dive in and possibly make a fool of myself, fail, freak out about income, piss someone off, (most likely, unintentionally) whatever. I could end up “doing it all wrong” and learn some more big lessons.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]You can’t gain real experience from theory, overthinking, or even planning. You have to just dive in and DO it. [/perfectpullquote]
I’m choosing also to focus on what I want.. peace, simplicity, adventure, joy, work I love, people I care about, giving back/paying forward, and freedom. Which increases the odds that it will happen. That which you focus on, increases.
So why not focus on the GOOD things? Focusing on what could go wrong pretty much ENSURES that I won’t be able to enjoy myself, and will probably BLOCK any good from coming my way.
So.. this isn’t just a dream.. it’s real life. I’ll have the same kinds of days I have here.. terrific, awful, mediocre, and everything in between, but with different scenery and a culture to learn on an even DEEPER level.
I know I’m ready because I can’t find anything on Google about culture or daily life that I don’t already know.. I’m way past talking about the climate or how nice people are on the street or general advice about how to find a rental property.
I’m ready. This IS an experiment.. for sure.. but so would staying in Denver or moving to any other city in the United States. Why not go BIG or go HOME?
How long will I stay in Europe? Who knows. I have enough experience now to know that remaining open to opportunity, preparation, and agility is the key.
So thank you for reading this. If you can relate, I would LOVE to hear from you!