It's the work, right? That's what everyone thinks about when they hear about digital nomads. They're all about the work. They're all about being able to work from wherever they want, whenever they want. But it turns out that's not really true.
The surprising thing about being a digital nomad is that it's not really all that surprising at all. It turns out that being a digital nomad is just like being a regular person who has a job, but who also happens to travel around a lot. It's just like living in one place and traveling to another place for work every once in awhile. And it's just like living in one place and traveling to another place for fun every once in awhile. And it's just like living in one place and traveling to another place for family obligations every once in awhile. In other words, it's just like living anywhere else and traveling anywhere else for any other reason whatsoever.
"The biggest surprise was how normal it was," says Jeff Bussgang, partner at Flybridge Capital Partners and author of "Winning with Data: Transform Your Culture, Empower Your People, and Shape the Future," who spent six months as a digital nomad after he sold his company to Intuit in 2012.
"I didn't realize how normal it was until I started doing research on this topic," he says via email. "I thought I would be different than everyone else on the planet because I was doing this crazy thing.
"But Bussgang found that he wasn't alone at all. He found that there are actually lots of people who are working remotely, but who aren't necessarily digital nomads — people who live somewhere and travel somewhere else for work or fun or family obligations every once in awhile — or even more than that — but not necessarily full-time or even part-time."I think there are lots of people out there who have figured out how to make this lifestyle work," says Bussgang, "but haven't necessarily labeled themselves as 'digital nomads.'"And if you think about it, he says, it makes sense: "If you're going to live somewhere anyway — why not live somewhere that has great weather?"
So if you're thinking about becoming a digital nomad because you want to be able to work from wherever you want whenever you want — don't worry too much about that part of the equation."
The biggest surprise is how normal it is," Bussgang says again. "It doesn't have to be some crazy lifestyle where you're constantly moving around." Instead of worrying so much about where you can work from next — focus instead on making sure your life is as normal as possible while still allowing yourself the freedom of working remotely."You need some kind of routine," Bussgang says. "You need some kind of structure so your brain doesn't go crazy."
That means having some sort of daily routine — whether it's waking up early (or sleeping late) every day; whether it means going for a run every day; whether it means meditating or reading or watching TV or hanging out with friends every day; whatever works best for you — do that thing every day so your brain knows what to expect when you wake up each morning (or go to bed each night).