The peaks and troughs of being a digital nomad and living in many different locations temporarily has been one of, if not the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.
I have the luxury of not being confined to an office chair listening to Karen and Phillip talking about absolutely nothing, and I certainly don’t have to experience another sterile environment with shit chairs and white walls surrounding them – I can be where I want when I want and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do to stop me.
However, despite what anyone tells you, there are multiple hardships associated with being a committed digital nomad, some of which are easily managed, whilst others can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing.
Here are the four persistent ball aches of being a digital nomad.
Distraction Kills Your Business
Distraction is one of the number one killers for anyone working as a digital nomad. I’ve often given myself the Homer Simpson treatment with multiple “oh, birdie!” moments in favour of knuckling down and smashing out the work that’s been set for me.
The problem with distraction in another country or location, especially when you’ve only just landed or set yourself up in your new pad, is the desire to explore everything new takes over your desire to plow through your existing work responsibilities.
Some of my “proper” first jobs as a digital nomad started when I was travelling through Western Australia. I had a few basic content writing jobs to get through for a health & lifestyle website and the deadlines were tough – in fact, tougher than what I’m mostly used to now.
I, being a total noobie, prioritised fun, sightseeing, and beers over keeping myself on track and getting what I really needed to do ready for my client. This, unfortunately, led to me not taking my work seriously and missing deadlines, which ultimately left me with a dwindling client list.
If you’re serious about becoming a digital nomad, distraction needs to be limited to the point where it’s non-existent, especially when deadlines are mounting. Make sure you set aside enough time to get everything done during the day/the week and save your fun and enjoyment when you eventually have enough completed to hit those deadlines.
Isolation Sends the Mind and Body to Despair
Isolation is a slow-burn and something that will creep up on you gradually if not confronted.
Most isolation cases as a digital nomad happen when you prioritise work over any kind of enjoyment; you hole yourself up in your temporary apartment or hostel with no social interaction and you just plug away at your work.
This is an eventual nail in the coffin for your own sanity.
Despite what I said about needing to meet deadlines, you have to make sure you make time for yourself. Nurturing friendships, no matter how short or long-term, is essential to your own peace of mind and gives you that much-needed break away from a computer screen.
I’ve never experienced true isolation whilst being a digital nomad, but I’ve met others who have been through it. They told me how the burden of their work commitments practically swallowed them up and spat them back out without them even noticing, which eventually put them in a bad frame of mind until they became conscious of how much of a toll doing 12 hours a day put on their own wellbeing.READ MORE: A self-care guide for digital nomads
All Illness and No Work Makes Jack a Very Poor Boy
Ok, so the subtitle to this section is a little bit over-the-top, but you kind of get the idea of what I’m trying to say.
Illness can strike at any time, particularly when you’re in a tropical country and the bacteria isn’t quite what your body is used to. I mean, it happens to the most hardened of digital nomads and will probably happen to you at some point.
The problem with illness is it’s often synonymous with not being able to work. And what happens when you don’t work? You don’t get paid. And what happens when you don’t get paid? You have to budget harder than you did before (unless you’ve been very smart with your money or you have very rich parents who give you an allowance).
Unfortunately, not everyone has the aptitude for saving money for an illness week, no they have an endless pot of gold from the bank of mum and dad.
Sometimes it’s just a way for nature and our biology to act against us and, frankly, it sucks. Really sucks.
Money and the Problems That Comes with It
Tying in quite nicely to the previous point is finances and the perpetual anxiety that comes with it, which is something I can honestly relate to.
Money, though amazing when you have it, can be the proverbial route of all evil.
If you don’t work because of illness or other extenuating circumstances, what do you think about first?
That’s right. You think about money and how you’re going to survive for the next week/month/year/eternity.
This mentality, though necessary, can leave you feeling at the mercy of your bank account and the number stamped across the ATM screen. Even if you see your money go down by a couple of pounds/dollars/whatever currency you use, you’re already anxious thinking about what will happen to you.
One of the best ways to deal with this is to make sure you save as best you can, even if you have to dispose of luxuries in your life – this will give you a nice financial safety net ready for these sorts of problems.
If after reading all this you still feel like you want to adopt the nomadic lifestyle, have a read at our guide on how to become a digital nomad.