Tag Archives: Relationships

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. ūüôā

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.

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?

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.

Remaining Positive About Lifestyle Design

Lifestyle Design is about dreaming of a future free from the restraints that are placed on us by societal norms. That is, free from a job we hate, stepping away from rampant consumerism and discovering things about ourselves that we never thought we possessed. Whilst dreaming, Lifestyle Designers begin taking steps to make these life changes a reality and along the way there are inevitably a whole range of hiccups that many of us don’t like to talk about for fear of appearing to be a dismal failure. A recent post by Adam Baker (When to Quit Traveling) about giving up travelling the world earlier than planned and returning “home” to start a normal life again is a great post because it highlights the hurdles that Lifestyle Designers face when trying to find a different life. And it’s authentic – something that is so often missing in the entrepreneurial/Lifestyle Design world.

In the same vein, I face issues which question the very nature of Lifestyle Design. After recently splitting with my good friend and partner of 12 years, my visions of Lifestyle Design have been turned on their head. My plans were interwoven with my partner’s, my financial plans were based on a couple sharing expenses and my whole future was about living independently, but as a couple!

So what happens when you decide to split with your partner and you’ve already started down the Lifestyle Design path? My immediate panicked thoughts turned to the “normal” life. ¬†A full-time job, a nice house, retreating to a place I was familiar with… It all sounded so comfortable and it’s what I thought I needed immediately after a break-up. I think I also seriously questioned whether this whole Lifestyle Design gig was for real or just a charade to mask deeper-seated discontentment. It was almost as if I had switched to believing that a life of discontentment was actually OK because it’s what everyone else is doing.

Well, I’m here to say that I was able to pull myself out of that temporary lapse of sanity. But things are different now and I look forward to the challenges of Lifestyle Design with a different set of eyes. Certainly, life in the future seems a little more open to my own whims – but this question keeps coming up. “Why bother with Lifestyle Design?” And the only answer I can come up with, and it sounds logical, is that it’s too easy to settle into discontentment and that true happiness is something that needs to be strived towards. And that by definition requires effort and perhaps a journey with a myriad of hurdles.

But it also begs the question. ¬†“How does one remain positive about lifestyle design when the chips are down?” It’s certainly something needs exploring as the new breed of Lifestyle Designers journey forth into the unknown and these obstacles present themselves.

Demarried on Facebook!

When my wife and I recently decided to separate, we knew there were going to be some awkward moments ahead. ¬†Many of these we knew were going to be focussed on letting friends and family know what was going on and making them feel OK about it. But we’re now in a brand new social networking era where if you update your status in a certain way, people are going to be able to read into it without having explicit knowledge of what is going on. ¬†And this specific issue caused us a bit of a dilemma.

We didn’t want to announce to people that we were separating prior to us getting our heads around what it really meant for us, what our immediate plans would be and what sort of reasons we were going to give to explain this unexpected event. So in order to not give the game away too quickly and be left with awkwardness, we chose not to do status updates on Facebook for a good few weeks. But after a while when we’d figured out what we were going to tell people and how we were going to tell them (a status update for us wasn’t going to cut it) we decided it was time to act. ¬†So we directly messaged as many people as we could, emailed friends and family (we’d previously spoken to our immediate families) and then did the funniest thing I’ve ever done. We demarried each other on Facebook. What an absolutely bizarre and ridiculous thing to do. I just found the whole thing so odd – and I don’t even know why! Also had a good laugh. ¬†Ridiculous!

Why is this such an odd thing to do? Any budding psychologists out there?

Marriage Break-Up: Pre-Moving Out

The catalyst for me starting a new blog is the break-up of my 12 year relationship with my good friend and wife. ¬†We had previously been writing for www.dutyfreeliving.com and made a good go at blogging, lifestyle design and a new way of living. ¬†So rather than getting down into the doldrums about a break-up, I thought I’d write a little bit about it. ¬†Since the decision was made to separate, I’ve been documenting my feelings and reactions to the whole process. ¬†To date (and prior to moving house), these are the key points:

Shock – For me, this was accompanied by a kind of numbness that meant I wasn’t emotional. ¬†In this stage I was very clinical and matter of fact. ¬†I did, however, lose my appetite completely and gain a new friend which I call an “Anxiety Ball”. ¬†Essentially, this was a terrible tension in the stomach area that wouldn’t allow me to focus on anything else except the issue at hand. ¬†Most of this lasted about a week from the decision to separate.

Fear – One of my big fears was about the future. ¬†I had not given any thought whatsoever about my¬†direction¬†without my wife and this meant I needed to act quickly to determine what the best course was. ¬†The problem was that most options seemed so backward given that I’d recently left a career, a house and relocated to a new city for a new life. ¬†My initial reaction was to head back to the safety of what I knew – a full-time job, move back to my old city and try and get some “normality” back into my life. ¬†After pondering these thoughts for about a week, I had a revelation and came up with a solution which is not much different from what I was going to do with my wife anyway. ¬†It’s just that this solution is more independent than before.

Optimism –¬†Many believe our feelings are beyond our control and that our frame of mind is fixed by our moods. ¬†There is some merit in this, but I believe that with strength, we can shift our moods. ¬† In times such as these, it would be easy to be pessimistic about the future. ¬† It’s the default position for most people, me included, and one in which we feel entitled to. ¬†Well, we may well be entitled to pessimism, but wallowing in our own self-pity won’t get us very far. ¬†Optimism is king here and I think it’s worthwhile steadfastly sticking with optimism even when it feels good to wallow in self-pity.

So whilst all this sounds terribly depressing, it doesn’t need to be! ¬†If we allow ourselves to be slaves to our emotions, we can easily fall into the abyss. ¬†So I think the first step is to recognise that significant life changes are all part and parcel of life itself and with significant life change comes discomfort. ¬†I say a big, “Hello!” to Mr. Discomfort but, “you can bugger off if you’re going to try and drag me down.”

For many people in relationships that are heading down the Lifestyle Design path, the issue of the relationship itself is quite often off topic.  As I move forward, I plan to give more thought to how relationships both enhance and hinder the Lifestyle Design process.  Happy to discuss!