As we saw in the previous post, modern nomads are those who travel freely while working remotely, thanks to the internet, digital media and mobile communications—all of which have made the world a truly global village. Having devised an escape from the grinding routines of traditional desk jobs, the modern nomad throws the wide world open, searching for diverse experiences of living and learning.
Harking back to the old phrase, “vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (the whole world is one family), digital nomads, as voluntary drifters, prefer working and engaging in communal spaces. Striving to align personal aspirations with professional goals, they pursue self-development as the highest ideal, leading a decluttered life where less is more.
Like every coin, this lifestyle comes with two sides. Let us first look at some of the pros
Digital nomadism entails a life of surprises in which adaptability becomes very important. Finding one’s way around unforeseen situations breeds a never-say-die attitude that, over time, becomes second nature. Continually exposed to varying peoples, cultures and resources transform one into a resilient problem solver, self-confident and with an ease of communication.
The modern nomad rejects (materialistic) possessions of all kinds, placing emotional and spiritual experience above all. Empowered by their remote flexibility they like travelling cheap to lesser-known destinations and during off-peak seasons, thus stretching their budget, choosing to invest in relationships and opportunities that can neither be bought nor sold, but only lived.
Autonomy & Flexibility
Freed from the constraints of ‘reporting’ at the office, the modern nomad claims the rights as well as the resources to pursue their plans and take decisions in their best interest. These interests may include developing their hobbies, focusing on (mental) health, spending time with interesting people, and choosing to live wherever life seems best.
Great Work-Life Balance
By not being tied down to the unshakable structures of either a home routine or the work environment, digital nomads are in a better position to achieve the elusive balance that bridges the gap between one’s personal and public self. No longer need professional goals and private dreams seem mutually exclusive.
Since the modern nomad can work (anywhere) from (the) world, constant exposure to nature’s sprawling landscapes, the throb of life in cities as well as the vibrant experience of interacting with strangers—all these help to get the creative juices flowing. This not only broadens perspectives but also positively impacts professional performance.
Having appreciated the pluses, let us now look at some of the inevitable downsides.
Lack of stability
Nomadism, as a transient lifestyle, prevents forming long-term relationships. Even as they drift from place to place, their constantly threatened sense of belonging may keep nomads from settling into routines and establishing fixed foundations, both essential for a sense of future-building. Lack of a steady lifestyle can breed into a lack of overall fulfillment.
Literally always being on the toes is no easy job. Undertaking visa applications, hotel bookings, local transportation, facing changes in currency, costs of living, healthcare and legal systems (in case of emergencies), different time zones, cultural codes as well as language barriers—all these and more makes nomadism fraught with challenges.
As far as achieving a work-life balance is concerned, digital nomadism seems to be the road best travelled. However, workations risk blurring the boundary between work and life/leisure. Moreover, freelancing means long periods may lapse between active assignments. Conversely, the lack of a steady work environment can discourage meeting existing deadlines and affect work-quality.
One of the earliest patterns the nomad gets used to is the fluctuations in their finances. In order to stand down the ‘no-work-no-pay’ lulls that are a part of freelancing, it is important to remain self-motivated and focus on other ways of self-growing. Cultivating a more sustainable stream of income, cutting costs, having an open mind, etc will all help.
The aspect ties up directly with the independence both of job and location that is at the heart of modern nomadism. The inability to form reliable relationships and enduring support networks adds to the sense of isolation and frustration that can interfere with achieving one’s self-assigned goals, breeding loneliness and self-doubt that can easily spiral into a mental crisis.
As must have become clear, this kind of lifestyle needs constant improvisation and experimentation — qualities not everyone excels at. The absolute freedoms of nomadism will make some thrive, while terrifying others. Let’s look into some of the more interesting aspects of modern nomadism in the next few posts.