It has been eight months since I quit my corporate job in New York City to travel the world and become a digital nomad. Being on the road has taught me a lot about what it means to be successful, both in my personal life as well as my professional one: to name some, being a solo traveler has made me a better negotiator, a sharper and quicker thinker, and more diplomatic than I could have ever learned to be in my 9-5 job.
I share three valuable lessons that travel has taught me about business:
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Financial success starts with prioritizing
As a full-time traveler, how well I live ultimately boils down to how efficiently I am managing my finances. People often ask me how I can afford to travel the way that I do: the short answer is, it is a constant process of negotiating with others and with yourself, as well as prioritizing your life around your primary goals (for the long answer, check out my article on how I can afford to travel full-time). Financial success is a balance of generating enough money to do what you want, while still saving enough for emergency situations and curveballs that life throws your way.
Sharpening your negotiation skills goes a long way when it comes to both travel and business. One of the most meaningful lessons I’ve learned on the road is that time is currency, too. When I am traveling, I am constantly calculating what is worth my time versus money. For example, is taking a long walk worth the amount of money I’ll save on a cab? Similarly, is taking on a freelance role worth the time commitment when comparing the workload with the paycheck?
While it’s important to make money and manage it properly to move forward with your ventures, it’s just as critical to have the time to dedicate to them.
The speed at which you move forward depends heavily on your network
In the past year, I’ve traveled to 20+ countries as part of a social experiment to circumnavigate the globe solely by couch-surfing through my social network. Depending on 70+ people to host me around the world has taught me that when it comes to pursuing our goals, we are only as strong as our network. Without support from people in my network, I wouldn’t be able to travel as extensively or cheaply as I do, nor would I have gotten many of the freelancing gigs that supported me along the way.
Networking is absolutely essential to any big goal you want to accomplish, whether personal or professional. So many times, people I had just made friends with along my travels have offered me a place to stay, assistance with a project I was working on, or work. Traveling has taught me that success of any kind cannot be achieved solely by one person; it is a team effort. Your goals become significantly more accessible when you can harness the help of many people, rather than having to do everything by yourself. You are not alone in striving for success: make use of your network, and make sure to give back when needed.
The biggest risks yield the biggest rewards
I have been consistently taking risks since I quit my job in New York City last year. In the past year, my risks have been travel-related (hiking active volcanoes, going scuba diving, and skydiving were some of my favorites) as well as financial (using my savings to jumpstart my full-time travels, visiting countries that are way above my budget, forgoing freelance work that didn’t align with my values).
The experience has helped me understand that we can waste a lot of our lives hovering within our comfort zones: but when we do not take risks, we gain security at the sake of personal improvement. Success without risks is capped – you can only climb so high before hitting a plateau, and taking risks help you push past that. Because of the risks I’ve taken, I am unafraid to quit a job that makes me unhappy; I will say “yes” to any adventure that will assist me with self-growth (my latest being taking surf classes and going river-boarding); I don’t cease to visit a country because it’s seemingly too expensive; I can be honest and upfront with employers instead of biting my tongue over fear of offending someone.
I started living – rather than existing – when I started taking risks, and as a result, I am finally in a position where I have taken control of my life. Traveling full-time has taught me that, like with business, I will always learn more taking action and moving forward than by staying put in the same place, waiting for things to change.
Originally published on Forbes.
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