Some people spend their entire lives feeling like they can’t do what they really dream of. I’ve lost track of the stories I’ve heard of people who hustled for 20+ years in a corporate job so they could finally have the funds and time to travel the world; those who didn’t launch their dream business because they felt they “had” to clock in time working for someone else first; those who waited and waited to pursue their true passions because they didn’t have enough money, time, motivation, and so on (the excuses are endless).
But, what if you decided that you don’t have to choose? What if you committed to doing what you love without waiting for the perfect circumstances to come along?
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That’s what I did: I wanted to travel the world and I couldn’t wait. I also wanted financial stability and to build a business that would create a profound impact on my life and that of others. Instead of choosing one goal and hoping the other would eventually come along, I committed to figuring out how I could make both work. I quit my corporate job, left with a one-way ticket to travel the world, and a promise to spend the following year figuring out how to do what I love and get paid for it.
Within a couple of years of quitting my corporate job, I have visited 30+ countries, built a six-figure business, and designed a lifestyle that allows me time and flexibility to explore, work, and from wherever in the world I want to be.
Running an online coaching business while traveling the world full-time has not been easy, but it has been one of the most fulfilling decisions I’ve ever made. It taught me that you do not have to choose between being a broke backpacker or putting your career on hold: if you want to see the world and build something epic, you can do both.
Here are three ways to set yourself up for a successful business while also having the freedom to travel to your heart’s content:
Set ground rules and stick to them.
Running a business on the road requires an extra level of discipline, commitment, and resiliency. Travel brings with it a lot of unpredictability: missed flights, crappy Wi-Fi connections, impromptu adventures, to name some. It’s essential to manage your time wisely and stay focused despite the changes happening around you, or else you run the risk of burning out.
To solve for this, set a routine for yourself while still allowing room for flexibility. For example, I set aside specific days to take client calls, work on passion projects, and go exploring. I also have daily habits I stick to, such as spending the first 30 minutes of my day meditating and reading for 30 minutes before bed every night. Small habits like these add structure (and sanity!) to your schedule.
It’s also important to get very familiar with what you need to smoothly run a business, and how your travels can support that. For example, what is your working style: do you prefer working in long stretches of time, or taking consistent breaks throughout the day? How much does the weather influence your mood? Do you work better when surrounded by many people, or in isolation?
The great thing about traveling is that you can choose locations that best suit your needs and what’s currently happening in your business. During busy launches, I specifically choose locations with strong Wi-Fi, beautiful weather, a big digital nomad community, and good coworking spots. When business is slower, I will travel to more remote areas.
You want to create enough structure to stay grounded, productive, and focused on your work, but also have enough flexibility to allow yourself to shift things around with ease.
Approach every travel experience as a business lesson.
Many people assume that travel is distracting or detrimental to business. In my experience, my time spent traveling and running my business on the road continuously makes me better at what I do. When you assume that nothing operates in a silo and everything is connected, you’ll start to perceive how your experiences can directly enrich how you run your business.
For example, I recently went to a jade carving workshop in Guatemala. There I met Oscar, a Mayan jewelry maker who taught me how to turn the jade from a piece of raw stone into polished, high-end jewelry.
As we workshopped, he talked about “playing” the pieces he was creating. He said to me, “I don’t work. I play,” and went on to explain that his job was a fun game: he showed up every day simply because he loved what he did, and the result was that people got to wear his beautiful pieces for a lifetime.
Our encounter reminded me that when I’m passionate about my work, it feels like a fun game rather than a chore. What’s more, the love, passion, and dedication I pour into my business can be felt by my clients, and that is much more valuable than the actual financial investment. My day in Guatemala was only one of many experiences that I’ve had that humbly taught me what it means to run a business that is fulfilling, successful, and provides my clients with massive value.
Your travel experiences can powerfully shape how you run your business, serve your clients, and build your brand. You’ll learn lessons, insights, and ways of doing things that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Whatever time you think you need somewhere, double it.
When it comes to entrepreneurship and travel, a common mistake is not giving yourself enough time and space to say “yes” to serendipity. Travel is, by nature, volatile. There will be opportunities popping up that you didn’t expect, and if you’re not paying attention, you risk missing out on a whole lot of magic.
For example: if you’re going to Barcelona and you estimate that you’ll need 10 days to sightsee and get work done, double that time to 20 days. Give yourself breathing room as you will not enjoy yourself if you are overwhelmed with work, don’t take breaks to explore your whereabouts, and feel like you need to rush through experiences.
Last year, I planned to visit a palace in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for a couple of hours before heading to a cafe to work on a project. I ended up meeting a lovely tour guide who offered to show me around his city at no cost—it was an opportunity I would not have been able to find, even if I looked for it.
He took me to his old art school, a friend’s traditional puppet-making shop, and a local coffee farm. That day ended up being one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had since I started traveling full-time: I learned lessons from the wise locals I met that day that I will carry with me for life. If I said “no” to that day so that I could work, I would have missed out. But, since I had carved out a few extra days into my schedule, I was able to make a game-time decision that paid off in the long run.
In summary, it is completely possible to enjoy your travels while growing a successful business. Building a business on the road can grow and accelerate you as a person unlike anything else. Discovering my true wants and needs, meeting and sharing ideas with dynamic people, and being exposed to different cultures and ways of doing things has opened my mind to all the ways you can build a lifestyle and business you love… without waiting around for the right moment to come along.
Originally published on: Forbes
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