Changing Attitudes

walking through the mountains with freedomLast night I spent the evening with two close friends, Jamie and Geno. I’ve known them for ten years. We all met while we were in college and now, they’re married with kids. We don’t see each other often because they stay in one place and I never do but last night I went down to catch up with them and see their new twins.

Over dinner, we caught up, talked about life, went down memory lane, and talked about work. My friends were quite impressed about my line of work. They fired away questions and were amazed (and very happy) I could make a living doing what I love while having the flexibility to do what I want.

When Jamie was in school, she was a tutor. Now she runs one of the largest educational services companies in Massachusetts. Geno quit a sales job to go into IT. He then quit an IT job because of a lack of flexibility. He moved into another IT job that gave him more flexibility and responsibility. My friend Chris went back to school to work with kids because he didn’t like his corporate job. My friend Mike is off to Alaska to brave many cold winter nights because of a great opportunity to be a public defender.

I tell you these stories because one thing I’ve noticed about being back in “the real world” as opposed to “travel world” is that people keep being wowed at my job like I figured out how to put a man on the moon. A lot of people can’t seem to fathom a non-office life. They repeat to me “Wow! I would love to do that!” to which I ask “why don’t you?” And people respond “Well, I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Whatever we want to do – from digital nomad, to lawyer, to gardener, to world traveler – we all want the flexibility and freedom to do what you want…to have a good work life balance. Maybe it’s the economy or people finally rebelling against the matrix but it’s been good to hear people asking how they can change and seeing many of my friends making that change. I remember back when I graduated college (which actually was a long time ago) and everyone was trying to follow that typical American dream. Now, everyone wants to find a bit more of a life outside the office. Down with the 9 to 5!!

I never think of my job as a good example. I never went from “corporate drone” to “nomad.” I was a traveler before I was a travel blogger. But Christine from Almost Fearless was a corporate bee before she became a digital nomad now roaming Colombia with her family. She not so recently published a book on how to work wirelessly. What I enjoy about the book is not that it tells you how to be a digital nomad, it tells you how to transition out of your office to have more time to do what you want to do, even if it means keeping your old job. Some people love their job and don’t want to leave it. My friend Sean loved his job but hated the commute. He convinced his boss to let him work from home. I point people like my friends to Christine’s new book because it’s a good place to start when trying to figure out how to move from 9 to 5 to 9 to never 5.

The idea of working digitally is still new. However, it seems to become more mainstream every time I come home. More and more people are trying to break out of the normal work routine. Coming home and being involved in conversations with people who want to know how to get out of the office makes me happy this trend is going mainstream, even if it’s still only slowly.

  1. Great post, Matt. I’ve been working the last few years to have all my jobs become ones that I could do remotely, no matter where I live. I love it! When I’m home, I’m in the office, when I travel, I create my own office. Life is good. :-)

  2. Kash Bhattacharya

    I think the 9-5 life is over. As is the concept of a job for life. Flexibility is key. I juggle three jobs but I like the variety and the fact that I can on a weekday do what I enjoy most and that is to write (and tweet, guilty pleasures of a travel blogger) Sadistic maybe the pleasure I get when I sit in Starbucks at the end of the Royal Mile and seeing people on their way to work: money can’t buy that sense of pleasure :)

    I am still a long way away from making a living from writing but am on the way: I’ll leave with this quote: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” ~ Unknown

    Kash aka @budgettraveller (Twitter)

  3. I’m a freelancer myself in the artistic world which gives me an enormous amount of flexiblity in my schedule, including time to travel. I too get a plethora of bizarre looks and jealous statements from my 9-5 cohorts. Along the way, I’ve succeeded in turning the office work that I do to pay my bills into a (mostly) digital job. I’ve still got a long way to go, and the urge to give in to financial temptation and work 9-5 is a strong one I am determined to resist. But Kash, you’re absolutley right that money doesn’t buy any sense of pleasure!

    Nice post Matt!

  4. I believe that the regular 9-5 job is dead and companies and organisations will soon have to accomodate employees to work from home or even abroad wirelessly. Great post and we love Christine at Almost Fearless.

  5. pam

    My 9-5 job is over because I retired. I love the freedom now, my garden loves having me around to fuss over it and I love visiting friends, watching movies, reading books and yes, traveling. Two years ago my son and his wife saved hard, gave up their jobs, bought a live aboard boat and have been sailing around to and exploring various islands in the South Pacific. They focused on what they wanted out of life and went for it!

  6. Couldn’t agree with you more! I find it very interesting the more and more I get involved with blogging…sometimes I get people who look at me with that, “You’re not serious?” face. They don’t understand how doing something like blogging is done for a living. Yet, so many people want that flexibility to do it; and, all it takes it the courage to say, “I’m doing it!” Great blog today and I’m thrilled I’ve found your site!


  7. I can so relate to the post..I quit my media corporate job too to get into travelling and travel blogging and writg..its not payg me as yet, but I love the freedom and flexibility that i dont want to go back to my job.. occasionally , I do a little bit of consultancy work in the non travel space, but even that aint fulfilling..friends of mine have quit 9 to 5 to do travel writing and photography as india, it will take a while to fetch us moneys, but I guess the satisfaction is immense

  8. Well I never did that 9-5 thing so cannot relate except of experiencing the Slavery of the tech industry for 7 months and then quit.

    I view the travel industry just getting worse as people strive to cash in on it, the difficult thing is that most advertisers want freebies. So people that are focused at making money are struggling except for a few, IMO.

    But anyone getting out of the controlling world of the corporation is positive.

  9. When I left my corporate job ten years ago to go cruising, I got this question a lot – ” What do you do all day now that you are not working?” People cannot fathom what to do with their time. I have met retirees in their late 60s/early 70s who said that if they knew what they know now, they would have retired earlier!

    I’m still having fun, and would consider going back to work, but only part time, and doing what I like.

  10. I agree with your observations about your friends who have changed their jobs to find something that fits more what they want– more and more people are finding work that allows flexibility and gives them more personal contentment. There is definitely something in the middle between a corporate 9-5 job and being a full-time traveler (take all the teachers/professors as an example). Sometimes it takes serious planning and a leap of faith to find the right kind of change. My husband is back in school for a few years so he can later have a job that will give him great flexibility lilke mine does. How great that your life can be an inspiration for others to make a big change.

  11. I like this post, Matt, although I’m not sure that working digitally is for everyone. Honestly, I hated the six months that I was a freelancer! I found myself working longer hours, for much less pay. I missed having colleagues and I missed contributing to projects that had a big impact. I’m also a practical sort and I fretted about not being able to build up my savings and 401(K).

    I do like my current situation. I work fairly flexible hours as a corporate writer, where I also have room to dig into the business topics that interest me (social media and communicating with customers). Since going back to work, I’ve been recharged intellectually and am much happier. And I have my travel blog on the side as a hobby. For now, it’s a good balance.

    I think the trick to it all is knowing yourself, and creating a life where you can enjoy your choices.

  12. I think anyone with a family will attest to the fact that once you start having kids you immediately loose some freedom and flexibility. It becomes impossible to just concern yourself with your own needs and desires. I think this makes the decision to continue traveling difficult, but not impossible.

    For example, my parents moved our family to Australia when I was 10. Neither of them had a job upon arrival, and life was definitely by the ‘seat of our pants.’ My parents friends and family thought there were crazy for dragging their two kids half-way around the world, but they made it work and we ended up living in Australia for 6 more years.

    I guess me point is that sacrifices were made in order to do this, and my parents didn’t take them lightly. It’s easy to say just ‘do it,’ but thats not how life works.

    I enjoyed reading this and included in our weekly roundup of blogs I enjoyed reading. Feel free to share this back to your readers.


  13. You are so right. Even if not to travel, but to just have flexibility and time to enjoy what matters in life, there is an overall sense that people are growing tired of what is meant to be the norm. I don’t know, maybe the bad economy has put “the worst that can happen” in front of our faces, when it was once just an afterthought. It is during dire times like these that we realize what is really important.

  14. I’m from the UK and so many people here are doing the same thing. I gave up a job in events management to help care for disabled and elderly people and also run a travel website in my spare time. The pay cut was a shock to start with but now we are starting to get some money in from the website so it’s helping a bit! I’m still way much happier and will ever go back into an office environment again.

    • NomadicMatt

      At the end of the day, you only come this way once. Might as well be happy and do what you want. Money isn’t important! happiness is!

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