Remote Year is harder than it looks

01.30.2017

This week Ikigai celebrated 6 month of our journey around the world, wrapping up the first half of a year living and working abroad. As one could expect, we celebrated the occassion, and because we were in Spain at the time it involved paella, sangria and music. One unexpected surprise was a gift of RemoteYear branded Ikigai hooded sweatshirts accompanied by hand-written card from our program leaders. This note reflected on goals and ambitions I communicated during my application process months before starting this year abroad in Lisbon.

I originally had the ambition of starting a blog to share what it’s like to live abroad while working remotely. After six months, this not-so-gentle reminder of my stated goals provides just enough motivation to begin the process.

I suppose I should start by explaining RemoteYear, and Ikigai, but I’ll let you mostly figure it out as you go (Google also works). It *is* important to understand at a very basic level that Ikigai is the name given to our cohort of 75 remote workers traveling together for 12 months.

Ikigai is the reason for existence, our purpose, that thing that motivates us to get out of bed in the morning. In an ideal world, Ikigai is the perfect balance of having the oportunity to do something you’re good at, you feel passionately about, benefits society as a whole, and most importantly earns money.

I’m not saying that Remote Year is my Ikigai, however it does provide an opportunity for discovering what it means to me.

So why haven’t I started this blog yet?

I was convinced I didn’t have a unique and compelling story: plenty of others traveling with Remote Year already have blogs, snaps, stories, and feeds filled with awesome stories and beautiful photos.

I’m not witty enough: I’m not good at catchy phrasing and witty commentary, and attempting to do so would feel forced. It’s just not me.

Taking time out to document thoughts in a meaningful way is hard.

Despite the impression given from most of the content on Social Media, Remote Year is a LOT of work. It’s not a year-long vacation. It’s not all fun and party time. In fact, Remote Year is pretty damn hard.

Sure, go ahead and say it. I get to travel the world for a year and live in nice apartments, in amazing cities, what’s the problem?

I am not complaining, nor am I being negative about the experience: I’m just being honest. Consider the theme of my writing here to be a reality check on what Remote Year is REALLY like.

No, I’m not going to tell stories about lost jobs, lost relationships, or stolen wallets/purses/phones/etc. Yes these things do happen (not to me, yet), but I’m more interested in talking about the more tedious challenges of living abroad. The things nobody thinks about. Like how to buy the correct flour, the shortage of realiably good avocados, battling with malfunctioning technology, the constant struggle to find good internet connectivity, or deciphering the laundry cycles on a washing machine.

Reading List Update

04.30.2016

Just finished reading:

  • The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A Fable for Managers (And Their Employees) by Patrick Lencioni
    • Another great management fable from Patrick Lencioni.  Here he dives into three challenges a manager can help his/her team overcome to maximize satisfaction with their job and overall life:  Anonymity, Irrelevance, and Immeasurability. The first two are easy to understand, but it’s the last one that is most commonly overlooked and has the biggest potential impact.  As workers we crave more than the typical subjective “good job” or “you’re improving” or “you could be doing better.”  Instead, every worker can identify key metrics to both track performance and aim for attainable goals.

Just started reading:

Reading List

04.13.2016

Because I have a short attention span, I always juggle two books at once.

Just finished reading:

  • Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
    • Filled with great lessons on how and where to focus time and energy to get the most out of one’s time to feel satisfaction in everything they do.
  • Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom
    • Mitch Albom’s writing style often seems to be of the “interview someone and document the process” as was the case in Tuesdays with Morrie.  Again, he questions end-of-life questions about legacy, not being forgotten, and reflecting on a lifetime of lessons to be shared with those that follow us.

Just started reading:

Why do you want to go on Remote Year?

04.11.2016

What is next?
This is the question I ask myself with increasing frequency.

At the age of 37, I am quite satisfied with all that I have accomplished and grateful for being healthy, successful, and surrounded by love. Many in my position would feel content and enjoy the comfort of stability, yet I am restless.

I am a traveler who craves a nomadic lifestyle.
Every trip ends too soon due to limited vacation days, and I often return home considering the feasibility of living abroad. I often feel the permanence of living in one place is restrictive to exploring new opportunities. I crave the challenges of being on the road, building relationships with new people, and learning to navigate new places.

My calendar is filled with travel plans in an attempt to satisfy these cravings, yet I return home wanting more.

The great cities of New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles have all been called home at some point in my life. What is next? I think Remote Year will help me find clues for the answer to that question.

Boredom and Stagnation: A 12 Point Manifesto for 2011

01.11.2011

2010 has come to a close, and I’ve begun reflecting on the past year. What I have accomplished, what I’ve put off for another year, what I have failed at, and anything else where it feels I have fallen short.
These are not resolutions, per se, but rather a list of short to medium term attainable goals. Somehow enumerating them here creates a sense of accountability.
-Independence
-Self-Improvement
-Settle into my Home
-Stay Connected

—INDEPENDENCE—
1)  Limit amount of energy focused on work.
Sure, I have an important and demanding job that I enjoy more than any in the past. This does not justify putting work responsibilities above all else.  A salaried worker shouldn’t feel obligated to put in more time than required unless there are urgent needs. Goals:  Leave the office every day before 6, barring emergencies.  Avoid checking email incessantly when not on call.

2)  Limit amount of energy focused on relationships. Companionship is comforting, and having a partner in crime is great for motivation and avoiding boredom. Settling in to a relationship also leads to sacrifice, withdrawal from social circles and neglecting activities that are truly satisfying. Lacking enough common interests can lead to the lack of motivation and bordom I was trying to avoid. Sharing love with another person is an awesome thing, but should never come in the way of my personal freedom. I should not allow a boyfriend (or me knowing I have a boyfriend) to prevent me from doing what I want and spending time with who I want, provided there is no breach of fidelity.

—SELF-IMPROVEMENT—
3)  Develop new work skills.
This job may not last forever, and while I’ve learned a lot over the last 20 months, my overall skills have stagnated. Continue enhancing my skills to increase my value to both my current and future employers. Certifications in Microsoft and Cisco technologies should be a good starting point.

4)  Stabilize finances and reduce debt.
My credit rating jumped to 722 following months of responsible spending habits and paying down debt at an aggressive pace. I need to keep this up to pay down my remaining debt while limiting spending on credit. In the coming year I should be prepared to start saving money and carrying little to no debt. The eventual goal here: mortgage.

5) Get back in shape.
I have not been riding my bike as often as I should. Given ALC10 is only 6 months away, I need to get back in the habit of riding around. In addition to ALC10, this year I will participate in the following events:
4/2 Warrior Dash
5/28 Tough Mudder
6/5-6/11 AIDS LifeCycle10
9/25 Kaiser Los Angeles Triathlon (Sprint)
Goals: Spin Class or long-distance ride (>30 miles) one per week, bike to work (no bus) at least 3 days a week, join Cross Fit (and maybe ditch Gold’s Gym). Looking back at photos from my days in Chicago/San Francisco, I know I was in far better shape than I am now. 2011 will be the year I finally reach 160!

6) Focus on better eating.
No more junk food. More trips to the Farmers’ Market. More fresh ingredients, strive for as close to the “Cave Man” diet as possible.

—SETTLE INTO MY HOME—
7) Complete and organize the existing loft.
I’ve lived in this apartment for 18 months now, but much still needs to be done. Furniture still lacking: kitchen table, TV stand, coffee table or side table for living room. Organize all of the stereo equipment, with proper cabling to provide full 5.1 sound. Organize all networking technology efficiently. Hang some more art/photos on the walls.

8) Make efforts towards finding a permanent home.
Every time I pass the El Dorado, I kick myself for not being financially prepared to make a purchase. Once the goal of stabilizing finances and reducing debt (above) has been met, I should begin taking steps towards purchasing a home. I need to determine if this (semi)permanent home will be in Downtown LA or in Silver Lake. Do I want to do this solo, or collaborate with another person to increase my buying power?

—STAY CONNECTED—
9) Travel More often.
I need to take advantage of the flight benefits I have while I have them. I am incredibly lucky and should take every opportunity that arises to visit family, friends, and other places I’ve wanted to visit. Make weekend trips to NYC or SF more frequently. Go back to El Paso to finally see White Sands. Long weekend trip to London. Goal: at least one weekend trip per month.

10) Reconnect with friends.
I’ve lost touch with friends both local and non-local. How is it that I never see a friend that lives a block away? Friends that were close and important to me have become distant acquaintances. This year I will spend more time with friends and vow to break the trend of silence and no more making excuses to get out of social activities.

11) Enjoy LA!
I live in Los Angeles, a thriving city full of energy. I spend far too much time sitting around home, when I could be experiencing all that my city has to offer. I will try new restaurants, explore new neighborhoods, expand my radius beyond the block I live on. There are so many things to experiencing and I have been missing out.

12)  Pursue new/old hobbies.
Photography. Camping. Hiking. Deserting. Geocaching. All of these activities I enjoy have been neglected. I live in Southern California, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery…and yet I haven’t been hiking in over a year. I haven’t camped (other than at OOS) since the Sequoias in 2009. This year I will update my camera gear and take more photos. I will plan more camping trips, and find ways to get out to the desert or mountains to go hiking…even if it means going alone.

Android post

06.05.2010

If you can read this, WordPress for Android has been configured properly.

omg what is wrong with my 9ol. keys?

10.13.2009

It is really hard to type when three very commonly used keys are not functioning correctly. wtf?

Rediscovering live music

10.13.2009

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing Fever Ray perform at the Henry Fonda Theatre. I’d been looking forward to that show for months, and can’t begin to describe how mind blowing it was. For an hour Karin Dreijer Andersson transported the audience to another world of sights, sounds, and smells.

I’ve been a fan ever since I heard Royksopp’s “What Else Is There,” to which she lent her vocals. I was thrilled to hear her on several tracks from their new album, and quickly became a fan of the Knife and her solo work as Fever Ray.

I’m looking forward to attending more shows and reliving some of my days as an indie kid…except less kid, and maybe less pretentious about the indie part. 😉

Who am I kidding?

10.08.2009

I thought I had everything figured out months ago, but somehow I allowed myself to get distracted. I think I’m finally starting to understand where I want to go from here. Goals are becoming a bit more clear.

Time to return to that plan I originally laid out for myself.

Update: The job

07.14.2009

3 months! I started working for Global Conference Partners exactly three months ago on April 14, 2009. I wouldn’t have imagined it possible to find a job that brought me nearly as much personal satisfaction as did working for Hot Topic Media, but here I am. I work with a great group of guys, that continue to blow me away with their skills and knowledge. It has taken a little adjusting to being the apprentice rather than the guy with all the answers.

GCP is a provider of conference calling solutions, offering both free services such as Free Conference and Instant Conference as well as Enterprise services such as Global Conference. As Operations Manager, I wear many hats. Along with the two other Operations guys, I provide second tier support to end users (under my alias Anthony Morgan). I contribute to the maintenance, design, and support of all systems in our corporate office in Glendale. By far the most challenging and enjoyable hat I wear relates to my role in helping to design, build, and support conferencing bridges and all customer facing systems. My background in telephony is admittedly fairly weak, but I enjoy the daily challenges and take lots of notes. I’ve learned more about unfamiliar technology in the last three months than I probably have in the last few years.

The office is pretty casual, although I aim to at least wear a collared shirt every day (even if I’m wearing shorts). Many people socialize outside of the office, and I’ve even found at least one coworker already connected to my circle of friends (thanks Facebook!). The benefits are very generous: fully covered medical/dental, 401k with matching contributions, decent number of holidays and PTO accrual, and stock options (that might actually be worth something someday).

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