You’re a smart, ambitious 20-something, and the world is your oyster.
You have a degree, and you’ve done your time with a few 9-to-5 gigs, but that wasn’t for you. You’re bigger than that mold—that’s what your parents do!
You’d rather travel. Work for yourself. Be creative. Find a unique way to serve the world from the ease of your laptop while sitting on a beach in Koh Phangan or overlooking the rice fields in Bali.
So you quit that job and book that flight and, armed with your laptop, digital prowess, and ambition, you set off to become a digital creative.
Dear Millennials: can you relate?
It’s a path that’s become more and more common.
The yoga instructor who does spiritual coaching on the side. Or the writer who leads kombucha workshops and sells jewelry on their Etsy store. Maybe the mindfulness coach who also teaches online English lessons.
The term “digital nomad” has become synonymous with millennials, almost a cliché. We define the digital era. We’re constantly moving around.
The beginning is full of possibility—you’ll post your travels on your blog and have stories about all the neat people you met and funky workshops or retreats you taught. Your Insta will be packed with the cool locations you work from and the exotic dishes you’ve sampled abroad.
After some time, however, you begin to realize that you’re swimming in a (crowded) sea of many others of your generation, equally armed with talent, ambition, and passion to take the creative route.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with this path, but you’re realizing that it’s not always so easy or so glamorous. You end up taking odd jobs (not highlighted on your Insta feed) to make ends meet. You wonder if others are doing the same behind the digital image of successful, creative, online entrepreneur they portray.
Depression, or the lack of feeling fulfilled in our work, is something that is rarely openly voiced amongst the digital nomad/creative entrepreneur community. A lack of purpose, direction, and satisfaction in being that creative wanderer.
I mean, we’re supposed to be living the dream here, right? Why are we feeling lost and confused?
Dear Smart, Ambitious, Digital Nomad, elaborated on from the good folks of elephant journal, here is some advice for gaining a sense of fulfillment and purpose in your work, being of benefit, and earning your livelihood:
Do what you love.
Two common scenarios for this one:
1. You have it covered. You’re following your passions, taking the creative route—which is great! But you’re struggling to make ends meet.
2. You think you’re doing what you love. You didn’t like sitting in an office job working for the man, so you packed your bags and decided you’d rather travel, the ease of working from your laptop on your own schedule while meeting tons of other young, cool people doing the same thing. But, is that love, or is that pleasure?
Do what serves the community or the planet in some way.
We might be doing what we love, but we won’t truly love it if it’s only serving ourselves. Are we truly going to feel satisfied spending our days hanging out on a beach posting Instagram shots of ourselves in attractive yoga poses, while all our friends back home at their office jobs drool with envy? Sure, the dopamine hit of the “likes” gives temporary pleasure, but there is no real contentment or fulfillment to be gained.
True contentment comes when we’re contributing to others or the earth in some form or another. This doesn’t have to be in a huge or drastic way, but true happiness comes from contributing. Being of benefit. We all know this inherently. It feels good to make others (or mama earth) feel good.
Find out how to help people. Big or small. Just contribute.
Do something that makes you money.
Good intentions will only take us so far. Making money equals sustaining our livelihood, so we can continue to work and be of benefit—and enjoy doing what we do.
Do what you’re good at.
You’ve discovered that there are many other fish in the sea, so unless you’ve got a skill or talent that puts you above the crowd, it will be hard to sustain a livelihood in what you’re doing. Everyone has talents, they’re just all different. Find what yours is. If you feel like you don’t know what you’re good at or that you’re not particularly talented at anything, ask someone who knows you well. Chances are they can see your strengths more easily than you can.
And finally, dear Smart, Ambitious, Digital Entrepreneur: you are not alone.
Our path is a valid one. One of enjoyment, creative expression, freedom, and possibility. But there is work involved. Simple, good old-fashioned hard work. Just like our parents did in their 9-to-5 jobs. Just like our grandparents did in the field or the factory. Dedication, commitment, and hard work.
It is up to us to do the work (while doing what we love!)—to create and explore with a committed, dedicated energy, playful curiosity, and bringing a sense of fulfillment to our work.
Originally published on Elephant Journal.