New Year Thoughts in a New Place

I cant even remember where I was for new years eve 2014. Granted, I don’t have a very good memory for that stuff, but I do know that in my wildest dreams I never would have imagined that I would be sitting in a cheap windowless hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam one year later.

I hear a lot from friends and family about how, upon learning of my new lifestyle, many people express a wish that they could do what I am currently doing. Its hard to know what to say when I hear that.

Part of me wants to say that anyone can do this. It just takes some time and determination. But obviously that just isn’t true. Although I know digital nomads/digital expats that travel with their wives and children, or who have a mortgage back home, it is simply not an option for many many folks.

Part of me wants to express how it wasn’t all luck and good fortune that got me here. It took a huge leap of faith into the unknown to leave my comfortable safe life. Quitting my well paying job, selling all my stuff, and boarding a one way flight to the other side of the world was the hardest thing I have ever done. And, although nearly every digital nomad will tell you that the lifestyle is totally worth it, digital nomadism is not without its sacrifices.

But most of me wants to say that not one bit of the awesomeness of my situation is lost on me. I often sit back in sort of awe at where I am, and find myself totally and utterly grateful that circumstances have allowed me to do what I am doing.

And in the spirit of new years, goal setting, and dream reaching there is one other thought that has often occupied my mind lately, and that is the power of trying.

Many people know how much I admire Elon Musk. He started Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors. I’ve watched hours of interviews with Elon and one thing that strikes me is his attitude towards failure.

In an interview for 60 minutes he was asked how he knew Tesla Motors would be successful. He responded “I didn’t really think that Tesla would be successful, I thought we would most likely fail.” And as you know, Tesla Motors is doing very well and is single handedly changing the Automobile industry forever.

I’ve also heard him, on a different occasion, express the idea that just because the probable outcome is failure, it doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t do something.

Before he started SpaceX, nearly everyone he knew told him he shouldn’t do it. He risked everything he had to try. SpaceX had 3 failed rocket launches before one finally succeeded.

The way Elon Musk seems unintimidated by the idea of failure has always been inspiring to me. He is not scared of trying. And when he tries, he tries hard. And that has served him very well and allowed him to change the world in many amazing ways.

Many of us have things we dream of trying, whether that is starting a business, traveling the world, building an app, acting on broadway, or writing for a TV show. Sometimes those things are best kept on the shelf. For people like myself who have a shorter list of commitments and attachments than most, I cant help but think that the only difference between those who act on broadway, write for TV shows, travel the world, or work for themselves, and those who merely dream of doing so might be just a few good, hard, determined, tries. And sometimes, even if the probable outcome is failure, that isn’t a good reason not to try.

Being a digital nomad has been a most rewarding journey. Its amazing to think about how close I came to never giving it a try. Its also fueled my determination to try hard at some other things, and to make 2016 a year of tries instead of a year of dreams.