Not everyone wants to pack up their bags, uproot their family and head off to the sunshine at the drop of a hat. But if you are drawn to the idea of waking up in an exciting new place and living a life that is totally different from the one you have come to expect, then read on…
1. You’re not sure that this is all there is…
Do you ever look out of the window and sometimes feel a bit deflated at the realisation that next week, next month and in all likelihood next year will find you doing pretty much the same thing as you are doing now? For some people that sort of predictability is comforting. But if you have that niggle, that suspicion that things could not only be different, but better, then it’s probably time you started to give this thought some serious attention, because a year from now you might still feel the same but not be any closer. The choices you make today, even if it’s just the decision to think about it more seriously, could mean you are several steps closer to your goal this time next year.
2. You’re not convinced that this is all you wanted for yourself
When we were little we wanted to be nurses, ballet dancers, astronauts, but as we grew up our goals became more ‘realistic’. For many of us, when these didn’t materialise either, we settled. There are probably bits of your job you like, bits you don’t. There are bits of my job that drive me to distraction, but given all the benefits of my work, I can live with them. Are there plenty of benefits to you putting up with the stuff you don’t like? Or have you settled for something familiar and safe because those seem easier than satisfying and interesting? If ‘secure’ is what makes sense for you and makes you happy, then that’s all you can ask for. I’m really reaching out to those of you who aren’t quite so content, who are wondering if there is something else, because somehow what you have just doesn’t seem quite enough. Look back to yourself as a 4 year old with all of your potential yet to unfold. Is what you have now what you wanted for yourself? Even though friends or family might shake their heads and question ‘what is wrong with you, aren’t you satisfied with what you have?’ If the answer is no, then maybe it’s time to at least start to think about the alternatives. Because there are hundreds of ’em!
3. You suspect that there might be alternative ways you could live your life
Particularly if you already have your own business, your life may be a lot more portable than you think; there are opportunities to have greater freedom in your life if this is a priority for you. It all depends on the choices you make. For instance, if you spend a big chunk of your day at a desk, looking at a computer screen, is there a chance that you could accomplish similar things but without the ties to your office? Often we can get sucked into the idea that ‘I have to be here to do my job’. But is that really true? I know for some jobs it is, and wanting to live a different sort of life may lead you to thinking about a new career direction. But for many of us, the things we do don’t require us to be in one place. We have just got used to thinking that they do. Of course if you have a job working for someone else, it’s probably not going to go down too well when you ask, ‘any chance I could not come in for a couple of months while I explore Vietnam?’ But are there elements of your job that are pretty generic? Would other organisations value your skills? Could you provide them on a freelance basis? Even if your initial reaction is a screaming, ‘no! You don’t understand what I do and are crazy to think it’s even possible for me..!!’ then wait for that feeling to settle and look at it again. Is there any part of you that thinks this might just be possible? Even just a glimmer?
4. You are willing to work hard and be creative
You have a unique combination of skills, experiences, personality. There are services and products that you can deliver, projects or events you can contribute, people you can help or tasks you can perform in a way which allows you to work with the flexibility you want. I once met a couple who spent several months of the year in India importing carvings, and 4 months in the UK working in an Easter egg factory. Another guy did massage in Bali for a few months and taught kite-surfing in the Philippines the rest of the year. I left a full time, in-house HR type role in the public sector to offer services to similar organisations as a freelancer, and to sell professional development products on-line. I didn’t set out to do that, I set out to have as a flexible a life as possible and that turned out to be the way to achieve it. I still have to spend big chunks of the year in the UK delivering projects for clients. But the point is it’s much more on my terms because the rest of the year I can be based where I like. What would your preferred working/ living style be? The first step is to think about what you want- you won’t be able to work out a route if you don’t have a destination. I’m not suggesting that the path will be easy either- there will be hold ups and diversions, you will get lost from time to time and the journey is likely to take a while. But it might just feel better than jut staying home. Most people who live and work flexibly originally learnt their skills working for someone else- so they were in the position many of you find yourselves in now. But they made some decisions and some changes.
If you want to, so can you.