Working 70 hours a week vs. being a digital nomad

Start 2015 I proclaimed I wanted to become a digital nomad. I wanted to travel the world, work remote and see the world.

A quick definition for those unaware of the term digital nomad:

Digital nomads are people who use telecommunications technologies to earn a living and, more generally, conduct their life in a nomadic manner. Such workers typically work remotely—generally from foreign countries, coffee shops, public libraries, co-working spaces and even recreational vehicles—to accomplish tasks and goals that traditionally took place in a single, stationary workplace.)

It was something I had dreamed to do for a long while. Being able to live where I wanted, work when I wanted and see what I wanted – not limited by geography.

In 2015 I managed to get that to work. I managed to be able to pull a stable 50k DKK salary a month (roughly 7.5k USD) from running my remote outsourcing company – and I could have increased that and been living like a king in most places of the world. I lived in Thailand and Philippines. I worked from Malaga. I worked from Bucharest. I worked from Hong Kong. I worked from Berlin.
– All amazing places – especially since I had/have friends and family in those places.

12 Months forward. I am working day and night in the same Danish office – at least 70 hours a week. I don’t really travel. I don’t meet a lot of new people. I earn 25.000 DKK (some months, some months we skip salaries).
Yet I love that much more than being a digital nomad.

Back in October ’15 I decided to join the startup Monera [1] as a partner by buying myself in. Since October ’15 I have worked longer hours than ever, had less energy than ever (because I use so much at work) and  said no to travels since.

So if you compare: “freedom to work when I want, where I want and be able to live like a king” vs. “working day and night, work in a set place and don’t really have any luxuries” – it’s kind of fun how anyone could ever prefer the latter.

Which is my point. So many people get caught up in the “being a digital nomad must be AMAZING”. And yes. It is. Especially the first couple of months.

But as with everything in live, nothing is perfect.
Yes it’s awesome to wake up in a romantic remote city in Vietnam (Da Lat – absolutely amazing by the way) which none of your friends ever heard about, and get served breakfast in bed.

Yet, you get tired of it. And to me – building a startup is so much more fulfilling then travelling the world. Every time people talk about digital nomads the dialogue seems extremely one sided. It’s the “future way to live”. But it’s not for everyone.

You can argue that “why not do both and build your startup remotely?”. I simply just doesn’t buy into that. When you build a startup you need to pick a space where you have plenty of great talent where you can build a team, and you need to work your ass off. It just doesn’t go well with sipping pina coladas and your left hand on the laptop while licking sunshine.

By all means. Take a period of your life where you try it. But don’t get seduced into thinking it’s the perfect way to live.

Many digital nomads gets lonely. Some gets sick (bacteria is different in other countries). Many don’t get enough money from their work.

Most still have a great time – but most also just do it for a short time and it can be compared with a vacation. So do it – but know there are two sides to every story.

I would pick building a startup any day – I would pick sweating and working long hours in a dark office, trying to build something while getting no salary and not having vacations – rather than waking up in a bed in some mountain cabin in Da Lat in Vietnam.

 

[1] Monera is a Danish fin-tech startup. We help improve peoples economies. An average family in Denmark can optimize for around 1 mio DKK (150k USD) over a period of 20 years by just changing how they structure their economy (loans, pension, insurance). We want to give people back those money. And yes, we will come to your country too 😉

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