Five years ago, I remember sitting in the office and feeling deeply unhappy with where I was. I wanted to be outside, in the sun, swimming. I wanted to be free.
Today as I write this story at 1:00 p.m, I’m sitting at home having achieved location independence. I’ve become a digital nomad.
Before I Started the Journey
At my last job, I was a digital marketer for a large enterprise. I handled the website, marketing materials and ran marketing campaigns. It was a company with a huge legacy, extremely well structured and organized. When I decided to work with them, I wanted to experience being a part of something big.
Two years after working there, I managed to automate a large part of my work. I could do what used to take 10 days in two days. Most of the campaigns became repetitive and monotonous. I remember completing all the work by noon and waiting for time to pass. It felt like a prison. I sat at my desk like a zombie, dying to take a nap and wondering why I wasn’t making meaningful use of my time.
Taking the First Step
Having so much time on my hands, I decided to freelance on the side. My very first side hustle was a social media management job for a friend’s restaurant business. I charged a small retainer fee to create regular content and grow their fans organically. It dawned on me that if I took on four more of these clients, I would be able to match my current income.
Making the Big Leap
After three months, I decided to quit my job. Having worked for 10 years, I was used to collecting a fixed amount of salary every month. It was a safe and consistent way of making money. But in the back of my mind, I craved more. I wanted to start something of my own. I wanted to experience freedom. Coming from an environment where teamwork was credited for all the success, I wanted to succeed at something and enjoy all the credit.
On the day I submitted my resignation, my boss shared a story to motivate me. She spoke about someone who was walking in the dark, slipped, and fell off a cliff. He couldn’t feel the ground, and hung on for dear life, not knowing what was below. When the sun came out, he saw that he was only one step away from the ground.
I guess what she meant to express was that when we’re walking in the dark and can’t see what’s ahead, it might seem scarier than what it actually is.
Having the Determination to Carry On
What my former boss said came true. There were several times I stumbled and wondered if I was going in the right direction. I’ve had to deal with an inconsistent income when clients pay late, the uncertainty of whether I was good enough to take on big clients, and loneliness.
Experiencing loneliness was quite surprising for me. Most of my peers were stuck at work on weekdays and didn’t have much time to socialize. While I could travel anytime, they had limited time off. From having a few hundred colleagues to only having my dog as company, I craved social interaction.
Clearing a Major Road Block
I felt my anxiety grow once because a client had owed me $10,000, accumulated over a few months. The client was going through an acquisition and their new finance department wouldn’t release the funds. One night, just thinking about the debt, made me feel like I was going into a panic attack. I searched for a meditation track on YouTube, laid down, put on some headphones, shut my eyes, and prayed for help. Immediately, I felt the heaviness and stress drift away. After the meditation, I felt like everything was going to be all right, and I was able to carry on with the rest of the day normally.
Incredibly, the next afternoon, the client found a backdoor method to pay me via PayPal. I received the full amount in less than a week! Now when anxiety strikes me, I try to remind myself of this incident. Many times, I relied on my own strength to get me through difficult times, forgetting to ask the universe for help.
Despite my struggles, I was clear about what I valued:
• Freedom of Time
• Freedom of Location
• Freedom to choose the type of people I work with
• A sustainable income
Step by Step
Having these values in mind, I set out to build the life I wanted. I took these crucial steps:
• Put in place a consistent way to get clients
• Grew contracts into retainers for sustainable income
• Secured reliable freelancers to help out with work to scale up
• Resisted the urge to become full-time staff at a company!
The last point is especially funny. Once clients found value in my work, they wanted me to join them full-time, which I did not want! Instead, I reminded them of the benefits of not hiring me and keeping me on as their external consultant.
Five years later, my income has doubled what I previously earned while working in a regular job. As a digital nomad, I’ve traveled to Italy, Japan, Korea, Maldives, Bali, and many more countries, while working remotely. I am extremely grateful for my clients’ trust in me. Not only that, I get to choose who I work with and have the freedom to turn away nasty or disrespectful clients.
Instead of feeling stuck in the office, I sometimes spend my afternoons cooking, walking my dog or shopping (Yay for empty malls). Although I’ve had my struggles, it’s still the best decision I’ve ever made. The experiences that I’ve gained have made my life richer and fuller.
About the Author
Coral is a location independent marketing consultant and founder of TheManifestationPower.com, a website about the Law of Attraction, which she’s practiced to her benefit. The Manifestation Power helps people find blocks that are preventing them from manifesting what they want in life such as self-doubt, lack of clarity or lack of consistency. Take the free test to find out what’s blocking you from living your dream life.
Pallavee Panthry says
Awesomely written piece. Inspiring! Keep up your good work along with your freedom!