by Niall Doherty

Here’s a secret: What I’m doing — traveling around the world while working from my laptop — isn’t always fun.

Oftentimes it’s much harder than working 9-to-5.

Take this week for example. I arrived in Istanbul before the sun came up on Wednesday. After a night of little sleep on the bus from Bucharest, I spent about two hours walking around without a map trying to find my hostel (actually, that part was pretty fun). When I finally got online to check my emails and such, I found a mountain of work awaiting me. So instead of catching up on sleep and then getting out and about to explore the city, I spent almost a dozen hours in front of my laptop.

Today (Thursday as I’m writing this) will likely be no different. And I’ll probably leave town on Saturday, so fun times in Istanbul may not be had at all.

This isn’t unusual either.

Last November I spent a week in Munich pretty much glued to my computer screen. I didn’t get to meet many people or see much of the city. Then December saw me log almost 60 hours of screen time per week, missing out on some cool things Budapest had to offer (I never did go caving beneath the city).

Two thoughts on all this…

“Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy”

That’s a quote from a great interview Jen Gresham had recently with Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen went on to give the example of a parent who chooses to live in a specific neighborhood because it’s close to a good school for her kids. Unfortunately, living there also results in a long and shitty commute to her dream job every day. But even though she might hate that commute, parent lady made the choice in accordance with what makes her happiest (i.e. having her kids attend a good school, and keeping that dream job). As such, the unhappy commute is necessary to keep her happy overall, living the life she most wants to live.

I can relate to this.

I’m off living my wildest dream here, but that doesn’t mean I’m ridiculously happy every moment of every day. Some days kinda suck, like this past Wednesday.

But I don’t get mad or frustrated. I understand that such days are my shitty commute, and they’re necessary for me to be happy overall, living the life I most want to live.

Necessary for now at least…

Self-employment: Just a stepping stone

I recently read a great book by Derek Sivers entitled Anything You Want12. An excerpt that particularly hit home…

There’s a big difference between being self-employed and being a business owner.

Being self-employed feels like freedom until you realize that if you take time off, your business crumbles.

To be a true business owner, make sure you could leave for a year, and when you come back, your business would be doing better than when you left.

I’m self-employed. I’m not a business owner. Not by a long shot. I take a week off, I make very little money that week.

But I’m not complaining. I knew and hoped that I’d get to this point. Despite all the travel, I’ve earned at least €1000 per month for three consecutive months now, which was a goal of mine. Not so long ago I was struggling to find clients and pitching strangers out of the blue. Now I never have to go looking. Cool people come to me asking if I can help, and they pay me pretty well.

Now that I’m here though, I need to change gears. I could always increase my rates even further and cut down my hours that way, but that would still leave me with a job, not a business.

And I want a business.

Not just so I can take more time off to explore the random places I find myself in, but also — more so, even — for the growth opportunities. Being a business owner requires a whole different skillset and mindset than being self-employed.

How do I transition? Right now, my answer to that is the same answer I give when people ask how I hope to get to India while avoiding Pakistan and without flying…

No idea, but I’ll figure it out 😉

Questions for you…

1) What unhappy moments do you accept to keep your overall happiness in check?

2) For the cubicle escapees among us: Are you self-employed or are you a business owner? Which do you want to be?

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Instead of buying and reading the book, you could always watch this excellent video series by Derek, in which he covers a lot of the same topics.
  2. Thanks to Karol Gajda for the recommendation. See #33 here for other books he recommends. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
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