Living & Working Abroad as an Aspiring Digital Nomad:
3 Simple Steps to Make the Transition
By Angie House
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Today, I found myself thinking about what I will be like in another 20 years. At 43, looking back on my life, the last 20 years have gone by so fast-- but I’ve accomplished SO much over the last two decades-- both personally and professionally. I’ve been through so many reincarnations, evolutions, ego shedding sessions, tearing down walls, and building new ones along the way.
I don’t recall ever wondering at 20 years old what I was going to be like at 40, but today –yes, today as I write this— it crossed my mind. It crossed my mind like the pile of laundry that’s been sitting in the hamper for weeks (often months at times), staring back at you every week, harboring the clothing items you only wear once in a while until the hamper spills over and there’s enough to do a full load.
Well, here’s my personal rendition of that metaphorical hamper spilling over, a mere glimpse of how I walked boldly along the path leading up to my 40s.
Married by Default
I knew from a young age I always wanted to explore the world, meet new people, learn about new cultures, and travel. Being from the US, these desires are not part of a traditional life path, so as I grew up, I found myself falling into the societal norms of getting married, owning a home, and raising two dogs—the traditional life path. Next up: kids? It was in my reflective moments of questioning what my life had become that ‘kids’ became a topic of discussion. I realized my life was nothing like I dreamed it would be. I had never truly wanted to get married. I just found myself watching my life take place before my eyes without really taking part in the decision making process.
Mildly rattled by my life choices, I decided to pursue my education and focus on my career while the ‘starting a family’ discussion was placed on the back burner. I guess I figured it was possible I might change my mind once I felt I had accomplished a career and finished getting my Bachelor degree. I mean, anything is possible, right? In the back of mind, however, at times when I was able to be brutally honest with myself, having a family was never something I wanted. In fact, the thought of it was actually something I dreaded.
Needless to say, that marriage ended. A different story for another day. But was anyone surprised? Nope.
After the dust settled and the stresses of a two-year long divorce finally waned, nearly every one of my close girlfriends stated they were happy to see the real Angie back again, finally. That was music to my ears, because I felt it in my bones. I was me again, truly me. The core of me and the people in my life validated that sentiment when I needed it the most. After all, if you’ve ever experienced divorce, no matter if it’s the right decision, it’s still a sticky awful mess.
Picking up the Pieces
A few years passed, a few new relationships failed, and I knew I had to make some serious changes to move forward in life. Yes, I was free after the divorce, but I was still missing something. At that point in my life, I had completed a Bachelor degree, gone through massage school, and I still wasn’t where I wanted to be professionally. So, I did what any education addicted junkie would do—I decided to pursue a Master’s degree. A Master’s degree program that required me to move halfway across the US. Yes! The new fresh outlook I needed.
One month later, I packed up all my belongings, and moved from Nebraska to Arizona. It was a well needed change, a promise of a fresh start, new job opportunities, and WARMER weather.
All the previous hardship soon showed a huge pay off. I spent the next ten years with a career in Adult Education. I felt real satisfaction in my accomplishments and a sense of pride in the longevity of my strength and tenacity. But a familiar aching in my gut eventually crept up again. I wanted more. I wanted different. The stability of a ten-year career fell short after the stable shininess wore off. And once again, my existential longing kicked in. It wasn’t a longing for more in the typical sense of materialism; it was a longing for experience, and a craving for adventure that short trivial vacations just didn’t fulfill. They were just teasers.
So, at 41 years old, I made the biggest decision of my entire life. After ten-years in an amazingly stable and lucrative career, and a rewarding life in Arizona, I decided to move abroad and teach English. I always dreamed of joining the Peace Corp, so the decision wasn’t that far-fetched, but I don’t think anyone ever actually thought I would take the leap and go for it. I’ve never been guilty of not following my dreams or not being ambitious, but this was different. This decision felt more like a stand to stake my claim at a lifestyle I wanted, a lifestyle of my choosing –and not what society thought I should want.
So, I sold everything I owned, packed up what I didn’t have time to sell or donate, and put the few remaining items I had in a storage unit. Then, I made my way to Vietnam to get a certification to Teach English as a Second Language (TESOL).
When I landed in Vietnam, I knew immediately I finally picked the right path. The fork in the road was full of so many possibilities. The statement, ‘You have arrived at your destination’ took on a whole new meaning. I had a sense of happiness wash over me that I still can’t fully describe, but anyone that has taken on this type of journey will tell you the exact same thing when you compare notes. It’s a sense of relief, and of being in the exact right place, at the exact right time.
Finding the One
Everything before this chapter in my life had been calculated strategies to fit in, and succeed in a world of status quo that I never really cared about succeeding in. So, it always felt like it was for show, to prove I was worthy of my place in society. But now, my passions lead me.
I taught English in Vietnam for a year. I really enjoyed it, but knew it was a stepping stone to my next incarnation. Ultimately, aside from moving abroad, I have always wanted to develop my writing skills. I love words, and how they can transform people’s lives through stories and open communication. So after my year in Vietnam had come to a close, I was ready to take the next step to pursue writing as more than just a passion or hobby, but as part of a freelancing career. That aspiration led me to focus on developing my writing portfolio.
I spent several months of hard work and dedication to the craft and creation of content writing. Thanks to the guidance provided from The Quiet Nonsense program, every step provided amazing and rewarding opportunities. I learned and developed so much more than I ever imagined possible. My writer’s block has waned, and feel I can finally sit and write without hesitation. Transforming my academic writing skills to content marketing skills has been no easy feat, but it feels like a natural progression at the same time.
The Missing Link
After six grueling months focused on nothing more than writing-- eating, sleeping, and breathing it; I was ready to expand my online skills to the next endeavour. I was desperate to get back to Bali, and get back in the ocean for some snorkeling. I also knew the missing link for many of the online jobs I searched for was my lack of advanced digital marketing skills. So, combining those two desires, I turned to Google of course. I searched, “online digital marketing jobs in Bali,” and much to my surprise the answer immediately stared right back at me.
I couldn't believe my eyes. It actually existed. Exactly what I was looking for. I applied immediately! And in no time at all, I heard back from someone and got all my questions answered. It was in fact real and aligned with what I was looking for, so I backed my bags and headed to Bali, Indonesia!
The learning curve during the internship bootcamp was exciting and intense! I’m so thankful I found the opportunity and made the commitment to advance my skills to round out my experiential education and online career development abroad. I’m finally ready to LAUNCH my online career
Sometimes, all you have to do is Google what you want and then GO FOR IT! It’s that simple.
Simple Steps to a New Life Abroad
If you find yourself asking the same question, “What will I be like in another 20 years?” –and the answer is pulling you in a direction you don’t feel resonates with you–maybe it’s time to evaluate your circumstances and realign your goals.
Here are a few tips to think about to make big changes in your life, and three simple steps I took to move forward and transform my life. And you can too!
Break free– Decide on your goal, and make a plan geared towards making that goal a reality. I sold everything I owned and moved abroad in 6 short months.
Develop or build new skills– I completed a TESOL training in 30 days in Vietnam, attended a 30 day entrepreneurial mindset retreat Bali, started a writing internship online, attended a 30 day digital marketing bootcamp, and completed numerous online courses to market myself and find clients– all in the last 2 years while living abroad.
Launch– Put yourself out there. Tell everyone you know what you are doing. Get out there, and don’t be afraid to find clients to work for. Start small, grow every day, recognize your achievements, and be kind to yourself. It is too easy for us to beat ourselves up about not reaching our goals fast enough, but just know it won’t happen overnight!
So, at 63? If it’s anything like the last 20 years, I can confidently say-- I can’t wait to CREATE my next twenty years!