Tag Archives: Lifestyle Design

My View of the Rat Race Four Years After Leaving It

It’s been four years since I left full time employment and embarked on my true life journey. The one to discover the real me, to be the real me. To be honest, it’s been one hell of a ride — at times like a roller coaster. Three years ago, one year after I’d left the rat race, I wrote a post about the pros and cons of ditching a career and hitting the road. I recently looked back on that article to see where I’ve come since then and I thought it timely to provide an update and reflect on those comments I made three years ago.

Adam in Morocco dressed like a Berber
Adam in Morocco dressed like a Berber

The strange fact that project opportunities beg you to go after them – Yep, it’s still the same. I have so many business ideas running around in my head that I can’t possibly complete them all. I do survive financially by doing a bit of Travelfish work, but I also get a little bit of money for a couple of web side projects. It’s pretty cool. I’ve been thinking about setting up an AirBnB in recent times, but I just need to find some time to do it!

A break in the monotony of 9-5 routines – This has been massive. There’s two things about this that are interesting. Firstly, without a boss and without a 9-5 routine, motivation becomes a big issue. But once you understand that, you can start focusing your attention to whatever project you want at whatever time you want. If you don’t feel like doing something at that time, no big deal. Just deal with it later.

And this is also where problems can arise. With no day job to keep you motivated, it’s very easy to waste your time doing nothing. And this OK for a while. But not forever. So you surround yourself with tasks you genuinely enjoy, which keep you motivated and ensure you don’t end up in a vegetative state doing absolutely nothing.

Being able to go to cafes and supermarkets on non-busy days – I now live in Indonesia and the cafes are generally the same throughout the week except maybe on a Saturday night when it’s date night. The thing I have been basing my life around recently has been traffic. If I need to go somewhere, I make sure I schedule it when traffic is least problematic. But this is one area of my life that I want to change. Even though I minimise the traffic in my life, I still find myself in it for at least a few hours a week and it’s too much. I’ll be changing that soon.

The very occasional thought of how sustainable this lifestyle is financially – This one has sorted itself out. I still have as much money now as I did when I left the rat race. Slightly less after this 4 month journey through Europe. How have I done it? I’ve lived quite frugally and have done some work for Travelfish. That’s about it really aside from a short consultancy gig I did. This life is easily financially sustainable — you just need to find your own sources of income and live in a cheap country!

The difficulty of meeting people who are travelling along the same path meaning that friendships are harder to make and keep – This is an interesting one. I still long to make real connections with people. Since I wrote the first rat race post, I met a girl and got married in Indonesia! That’s pretty cool. But I still long for friends to hang out with — that’s extremely difficult when you move around a lot. I hope to sort this problem out by moving to either Vietnam or Thailand later next year.

Not having a place to call home is sometimes unsettling – you generally end up finding a home. Everyone I know that calls themselves a nomad does settle down somewhere. Or reverts to a favourite city when feeling burnt out. It’s natural.

The lack of routine can sometimes be unsettling (I’m getting used to it) – I’m now used to it and it feels good.

Being self-consciousness of people thinking you are a bum (ego is still important) – Don’t care any more. 🙂

And then there are a few more new observations about this whole thing. I really does appear that there are two worlds. One where people are trapped in the 9-5 and one where people have escaped. I can and do travel wherever I want, whenever I want, wake up whenever I want… and life is grand!

I have no dreaded deadline hanging over my head. I feel no sickness in the pit of my stomach on a Sunday night about going to work the next day. That’s pretty cool.

My time is my own.

I don’t think having kids would change this whole equation to the point where I’d have to go and get a proper job and a real life.

I’ve settled into this new life quite comfortably now. I don’t fear not having enough money as I have about 50 business ideas buzzing around in my head waiting for an opportunity. I just don’t see any reason why anyone wanting to escape the rat race wouldn’t just do it! If that’s you, it might be time to call it quits and hit the road. It’s a pretty cool life.

PS – I think it would be remiss of me to leave out one important fact of my life since escaping the rat race – I ended a 12 year relationship and got divorced. That’s significant and wasn’t something to be cheering about at the time.

Living in Java: an update

Well, well, well. It’s been a pretty amazing year and a bit in Java. Spending one whole year in Java doesn’t actually sound like that much of a big deal to me right now. But I know that before arriving the thought of living anywhere other than Australia for a year seemed like sheer madness. Now it feels normal.

Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year
Just one of the many amazing places I have visited in Java in the past year

Earlier this year I posted a video montage celebrating a year in Indonesia. It’s a simple video which shows some of the trials, tribulations and delights of everyday life in Indonesia. Some with a keen eye will have seen some of the important moments from my time here in Indonesia so far.

Getting Married

The most important thing that has happened to me in Indonesia during the past year is getting married. I came to Java for a 3-month stint studying Indonesian and ended up getting married. How did that happen? Nobody knows, but I’m extremely happy and that’s all that really matters. Susan and I were married in June this year in Bali surrounded by a handful of friends and family.

Us on our wedding day
Us on our wedding day

Learning Indonesian in Bandung

I came originally to study at IMLAC for 3 months before shooting off to Bali to learn how to surf. Well, since I was getting to know Susan and was generally having a fab time living in Bandung, I decided to extend my Indonesian lessons. I ended up completing 6 months of full-time study. I thought that after completing this much studying that I would be fluent, but I am not. I can hold a conversation with anyone in Indonesian and can pickup a lot of what people are talking about when I overhear their conversations, but I still struggle to talk in the style of locals. Why? Because the proper way of speaking and writing in Indonesian is a long way from how most people actually speak. Many people studying at my school questioned why we didn’t learn the informal language, but that’s not something you go to school for. You learn that on the street and by interacting with people.

One of the classrooms at IMLAC
One of the classrooms at IMLAC

For anyone intending on staying in Indonesia for any extended period of time, I would highly recommend getting some formal training in Bahasa Indonesia. I saw many people arrive in IMLAC with no Indonesian language knowledge getting to a pretty good proficiency within 1 month.

Writing for Travelfish

I continued writing for Travelfish while in Indonesia and this took about 3 months of my time. I covered most of Java. Actually, to cover every tourism aspect of Java would probably take about 5 months, so I hit the spots that foreign tourists are more likely to hit. Even then I spent a week at one point without seeing another white person. Java doesn’t get many foreign tourists travelling through it. Those that do come here spend their time in Yogyakarta and then move on. How very sad.

Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it's fun!
Working for Travelfish is no holiday, but it’s fun!

Honeymoon

Recently Susan and I spent two months in Australia and New Zealand having our honeymoon. We stayed in campervans for most of the period and it was an incredible experience. Highly recommended. More to come on this.

Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon
Sunrise in the outback on our honeymoon

Thoughts

Reflecting on the past year and a bit, I can truly say that life is unpredictable when you don’t have the anchor of a proper job dictating events. I’m becoming increasingly keen to start a business or ten here in Indonesia. Everywhere I look I see opportunity for people with my background to make money. Whether it be opening up a small guesthouse, a small eatery, a website or something else. Opportunity abounds here.

Right now Susan and I are experimenting with a new Indonesian travel website called Pergi Dulu which we hope one day will provide destination information to the growing masses of Indonesian travellers. Today it is a blog, tomorrow hopefully something different.

So that’s where I am at now. I’m truly passionate about Indonesia and am bullish on the country’s economic prospects and potential as a tourist destination. If only the rest of the world would wake up.

The Real Me

I was just reflecting today on a few things. Well, one thing really. About what my natural self looks like in terms of motivation to work, creativity and general life activities. Yeah OK, that doesn’t really mean a lot, but I put it in those terms because if I was still in a normal job, it would go something like this… “What sort of worker I am – creative, hard worker, willing to stay in one career for my whole life, etc”. But since I don’t have a regular job, the things that fill the main hours within my day are the things that keep me going. What those things are is becoming clearer.

This freedom has given rise to the emergence of my passions. Things I really couldn’t identify with prior to giving up full time work. Further, I’m now starting to identify my natural behaviours in the big bad world now that I have the freedom to do whatever I want. And it’s very interesting and totally not what I expected. When I was working a proper job, I was happy to stay put for years and years on end. I was going to die in that job. I was comfortable. I was in a routine. So when I quit work,  I feared I’d miss that routine (I did) and I feared that I would end up vegging for years on end, doing nothing. Quite honestly, that happened for about 9 months. Most of that 9 months was spent travelling.

Since that time, I’ve been flitting from one project to another (not always paid) and it has been a rollercoaster ride like no other! What is so interesting about it is that I realise my attention span on certain activities lasts about 3 months and then… no I don’t bored, I get inspiration for a new plan, a new trip, a new project. It’s crazy, because I’m loving learning Indonesian at the moment, but there are a bunch of other things on the horizon that are getting me very excited — even more than the learning Indonesian thing. I’m going to force myself to stick with the Indonesian thing whilst dabbling in the new projects, but it gives a very interesting insight to the type of person I am when the shackles have been thrown clear.

The other thing I think is interesting is that I find it much more difficult to be free in Australia. Basically because everything is geared towards people not being free despite the glossy brochures. I feel free in Indonesia like I have never done before. That’s not to say I don’t love Australia — I do. But it is such a refined, productive society that opportunities for great projects are difficult to come by and are usually extremely risky. Here in Indonesia, opportunities are everywhere and the risks are minimal. I’m loving it.

For some people, this will make perfect sense. I have a feeling, though, that this might not make sense to the vast majority. Make sense? Or absolute load of rubbish?

Agitate for Change or Die

Aside from all the tales of travel, a major theme of my blog has been about escaping the rat race and finding the spark that everyone had when they were in their teens – and had no real responsibilities. I harp on about it to anyone that will listen and quite often people just don’t get it. “Everyone has to have a job. Everyone has to do things they don’t like. My circumstances are different – I can’t do that.”

OK OK, say what you will. But this is how life turns out if you don’t agitate for change.

Nomadic Relationships

One of the things I’ve been thinking about in recent times is the issue of personal relationships when you have no fixed abode. In other words, when you’re a digital nomad, location independent person, so on and so forth. I really don’t like those labels, but let’s roll with them for the sake of the post.

I’ve been finding that my relationships with people ebb and flow between real-life relationships and those online as I move around the place and do different things. Sometimes I’m physically alone, like when I did research for travelfish.org and I lean on my twitter network for social interaction. Sometimes I’m hanging out with real people (for reals!) and twitter takes a back seat, as was the case on my recent roadtrip with Heather and Nicole. Online relationships are great and I have made some really cool friends through the likes of twitter, but it’s those real life relationships that I treasure most. Those are the ones that I feel a deeper connection with. It’s part of the reason I make an effort to meet up with friends when I’m in town or try and meet up with twitter people when opportunities arise. But the problem is that when you move around a fair bit, you rarely have the chance to follow up on those short meetings and therefore don’t get an opportunity to cement those relationships. (much like when you’re backpacking somewhere and meet a great bunch of people and say that you will email them soon and never do)

Man on a Bike - Nothing to do with Relationships
Man on a Bike - Nothing to do with Relationships

I have the feeling that perhaps many other people in my situation find themselves lonely. Not in the traditional hermit-in-a-cave sense, but in a going-out-and-getting-drunk bonding type of way. So what does everyone else do about this? Try and settle on an island in Thailand with other like-minded souls? Sounds great, but then you aren’t really location independent. You’re in Thailand. Drinking buckets. Attached to a bungalow on the beach.

Gratuitous Random Cupcake Photo
Gratuitous Random Cupcake Photo

I guess the ultimate for me would be this. To flit from one 3 month sojourn to another, with those sojourns often involving other individuals on a similar path. That’s what I want. But it seems that everyone is so focussed on doing exactly what they want that they forget that in order to establish meaningful relationships, it requires time and if you’re constantly moving to where you want to go, you are never going to be moving to where the next person wants to go. The solution probably requires compromise. That is, going somewhere that isn’t your first choice in order to share a bunch of experiences with other people who do want to go to a particular place.

I don’t even know where I’m going with these thoughts, but I reckon it’d be cool if more people from the twitterverse actually got together for longer term travel rather than just one-day meetups. So. There you go.

Anyone feel this way?

How Writing a Guide Book Fits in with my New Path

When I decided to give up work and pursue my passions, I really had no idea what I was doing. People always loved the story, but immediately asked what my passions were. And it’s a fair question to ask when it’s the reason that you’re giving up a 14 year career. I had no idea what my passions were. I still don’t have clear ideas, but things are not as impossibly muddy as they once were and fantastic opportunities have now presented themselves.

So I like travelling, I like taking photographs and I like food. I’d say that they’re as close to passions as I’ve ever had and when an opportunity to research accommodation, restaurants and activities, and take photographs for travelfish presented itself, I jumped at it. It was something that scared me, but also was exactly the sort of thing that I would never have been able to do whilst plugging away in an office and exactly the sort of thing that many dream about but never get a chance of doing. I did it and I’m proud of not just what I produced, but also that things worked out for me in terms of following a new path. This is the new path that I knew was possible, but had no idea how it would manifest. This is the sort of thing that could come along that you’d never expect if you decide to give up the 9-5 and pursue your passions, whatever they might be.

So it’s with gratitude that I write this post about travelling down a new path. And a bit of humility. After the most eventful year of my life, including ending a 12 year relationship, I can say that life is good! I’ll be approaching this new year with optimism and taking these sorts of opportunities as they arise.

Travel Writing in Bali!

A little while back I started writing some Bali travel posts documenting my love for Bali and some of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing there. Since I started that process, I’ve been given an amazing opportunity to actually formalise some of my knowledge of Bali by conducting research and writing reviews on behalf of the fabulous company, Travelfish. Travelfish specialise in South East Asia travel guides, primarily in the online world via their website and iphone apps. They have recently expanded their coverage into Indonesia and I will be the writer for the Bali portion.

So I thought this would be a good opportunity to document my experiences travelling around majestic Bali and I’ll therefore be posting some articles about this.

The plan is to spend between 8 and 10 weeks completing this task. I intend to rent a car for most of the time in order to make transport between destinations speedy, but still affordable. I’ve already been through East Bali and I intend to complete a loop of the island before heading inland.

People have constantly been telling me how this is a dream job – and in many ways it is. But I have to keep reminding people that it’s not like some kind of paid holiday. I’ll actually be working the entire time, earning travel writer’s wages and living a fairly isolated existence! But yes, I do feel fortunate to have been given this opportunity, I am passionate about travel and therefore this fits into my general philosophy of pursuing my passions – I plan to make the most of it.

Symbolic Departure

Today I leave Melbourne. Destination Bali to write the Bali edition of Travelfish’s travel guides. I don’t plan to return to Melbourne. I was asked the other day if I felt my journey to Bali and therefore the conclusion of my time in Melbourne was symbolic. Symbolic in that it’s the finalisation of the separation from my wife. I responded by saying “no” because it didn’t feel like it… But now it does. I really do feel like today is the end of a chapter and the start of another and the page turns without even a hint of sadness. Sure, we can all talk of what could have been, but I look forward with optimism and renewed passion for the journey ahead.

So what have I learned through the process? Well, the main things that I have done well revolve around positive energy. I’ve tried my hardest to remain optimistic, tried my hardest to get out there and socialise (not always successfully!), did my best to accept the inevtiability of the situation immediately (ie didn’t hang on with false hope), held no grudges or bad feelings, did my best to not revel in the victim role which many many people would have me be in (they felt pity), and most of all, I got on with my life. I see these as contributing to the emotional place that I am in now and I love it.

I’ve tried to think of things that I could have done better but I just can’t find any at the moment. I really do feel fortunate to have had things turn out as they have.

So it all sounds as if everything for me is beautiful and that this journey was easy. It wasn’t. Introspection, which I think this process necessarily involves, requires complete honesty with oneself, the ability to observe your thoughts and the ability to tame ones ego. I’m no messiah when it comes to this stuff, but I did try hard and it was difficult at times.

So on the eve of a new adventure, I urge everyone to: not judge, reject cynicism, live pro-actively and above all, remain optimistic even when every bone in your body tells you not to be.

Who’s Writing Your Life Story?

Everyone has a story to tell about their life. And we’ve all met at least a couple of people that seem to have had lives filled with all sorts of interesting sub-plots. Two mates of mine in particular seem to have accomplished more in a lifetime than I had ever thought possible. And by “accomplished”, I don’t mean it in terms of making their mark on society or completing some great project or having a stellar career. I mean they have just done such a wide variety of things in their lives and have such amazing stories of adventure to tell that one can only dream of perhaps living just half as interesting a life as they have led.

The problem is that the story of their lives, our lives, everybody’s lives has to be written by someone. Most people, me included until a couple of years ago, choose to have their story written by their careers, their family and other random people. Whilst it’s great to have outside participation in our lives and our stories (we are after all social creatures), we can’t let others be the authors. Contributors maybe, but we have to write our own life story!

I think some slip even further than this into the realms of unconscious passive living. That is, the story is just being filled with a bunch of blank pages because the owner is just driving along, asleep at the wheel, not even knowing that there is a story to write! It’s being written, but it’s empty and they don’t even know it. I want to help these people (if they want help).

So, if I’m writing my own life story, don’t I owe it to myself for the story to be interesting, occasionally exciting, full of wonderful characters, romance, adventure, discovery, self exploration and a dash of drama?

Yes, I want my story to be one of those good ones, where my attention is held from start to finish. Boredom begone! To ensure my story is one of those good ones I have to make the effort to write it myself, write it with creativity and passion and learn not to beat myself up when the story takes an unexpected twist. The twist may just end up being the best part!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My View of the Rat Race One Year After Leaving It

Check out my update now that it has been four years since leaving the rat race!

I had the great privilege of being able to leave the traditional 9-5 lifestyle just over a year ago for horizons unknown. A year on, I still don’t know where I’m headed and I’m OK with that. Some people after leaving the 9-5 have a strong desire to get their teeth stuck into something that gives their life meaning. Me, I’m just happy to cruise along, attacking mini-projects as they cross my path.

So now that I’ve been out of the rat race for a year, what are my observations?

Pros

  • The total freedom to do whatever you want, when you want (it really is as good as it seems);
  • Choosing sleeping patterns that suit your body (joy);
  • The strange fact that project opportunities beg you to go after them (eg Writing a travel guide, exploring photographic opportunties and management consultancy);
  • A break in the monotony of 9-5 routines;
  • Everything is as finite as you choose it to be – That is, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel no matter how dire things are (really important for me!);
  • Being able to go to cafes and supermarkets on non-busy days;
  • Travelling outside of peak periods;
  • Above all, little stress.

Cons

  • The very occasional thought of how sustainable this lifestyle is financially (is this too good to be true?);
  • The difficulty of meeting people who are travelling along the same path meaning that friendships are harder to make and keep;
  • Not having a place to call home is sometimes unsettling;
  • The lack of routine can sometimes be unsettling (I’m getting used to it);
  • Being self-consciousness of people thinking you are a bum (ego is still important).

So it’s not all sunshine and lollipops. But the main thing that has reminded me of the stress levels of the 9-5 is a cafe I frequent only during the week. Recently I visited it on the weekend and the vibe was not relaxed. It was hectic, people seemed to be enjoying themselves, but everyone was so amped up that the stress transferred right into me. I left the place jittery! I couldn’t cope with it.

So whilst I never say ‘never’, I just can’t see myself travelling down that path anymore.

Love to hear your thoughts.