3 Mindset Shifts That Helped Me Succeed as a Digital Nomad

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Digital Nomad Mindset

This is chapter 3 of an 18-part series about digital nomading and location independence. To see all of the other chapters, click here!

If you’re used to living each day with a consistent routine, then becoming a digital nomad will test you in so many different ways. There’s the fear of the unknown, not knowing what to expect, and how to cope with life when you’re by yourself with no one else to rely on. But if you conquer all these, being nomadic can really change your life.

I can say that ever since I quit my job and started traveling the world, I’ve never been happier. I’ve gone through ups and downs, but overall, I’ve found my purpose, I’ve become more grateful, more easy-going, and more confident. I’m living my dream.

This lifestyle has changed the way I view myself, other people, and the world. So, I’m happy to share with you the mindset shifts that I went through when I started traveling that helped me turn a 6-month trip through Asia into a lifelong journey.

1. You Are Who You Surround Yourself With. But When You’re Surrounded by No One, You Become Yourself.

We’re all guilty of trying to fit in. No matter what society we grew up in, we all want to belong. We’re bound by social rules and how other people view us.

But what I’ve realized when I started traveling solo was how little appeasing other people really meant to me. And I believe traveling can do the same for anyone.

When you’re far away from the society you grew up in, you’ll also be far away from the judgments that come with its social norms. You’ll feel less burdened to act in ways deemed acceptable by your home community and therefore feel freer to just be yourself.

2. Money Should Be Viewed as a Tool for Freedom, Not More Things.

You can only carry so much when you’re traveling from place to place, so I also shifted to a more minimalistic lifestyle when I started nomading. This helped me learn that having more money won’t necessarily make me happier and also allowed me to become less bound by material possessions.

All around the world, people treat money as a measurement for success. Houses, cars, expensive clothes, and extravagant gatherings – we’re trained to strive for material wealth because it’ll supposedly make us happier.

In this Gallup World Poll survey involving over 136 thousand participants, money factors in a lot when comparing how “good” life is in comparison to others but it doesn’t have much of an impact when it comes to the enjoyment of life – that is, emotional satisfaction. Another study states that there’s an “income plateau,” particularly $75,000 per year, where more money means more stuff but not necessarily more happiness.

Learning this helped me break free from society’s grip, from the consumerism trap I’ve been accustomed to all my life, and further empowered me to take control of my own happiness.

3. Own and Control Your Happiness.

This brings me to my third mindset shift: Owning and controlling your happiness.

After removing external factors such as money and the judgment of others from my happiness equation, it became very clear that the only one responsible for my happiness was me. That it was something completely within my control.

I’ve learned that if something makes you unhappy, then do something about it or learn to live with it. I found that this approach helps you take ownership of your happiness by not complaining and taking action steps to change your situation.

Your reality is all inside your head. How you perceive things affect how you live your day-to-day life. And if you just stop focusing on what you can’t control and instead take action on what you can control, then that may just completely change your life.

I've been building digital businesses, wandering the world, and writing about optimizing life for freedom since early 2017. My mission is to lower the barrier for people who want to live with more freedom: whether that be as an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, an early retiree, or just as someone who wants to live a happiness-driven life.