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How to Design a Career You Love

HIt’s easy to say that if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. The possibilities of a digital nomad lifestyle give us the flexibility to choose every aspect of our lives and careers and it should be easy to find one that we love and makes us happy. 

But with so much choice ahead of us, it can be equally intimidating to know exactly what you want. We’re still of a generation that grew up with a linear pathway in mind. Throughout our schooling, we were told to look ahead to our university. In university, we were told to prep for the job we wanted. Through our jobs, we looked ahead to our promotion and the promotion after that. 

Throwing that out the window is both liberating and scary. Without a clear pathway through life, it can be hard to know how to make the decisions that will define your career and lifestyle. If we don’t have a framework to follow, how do we make our choices? 

1. Focus on what you do like

What are you passionate about? What are the skills that you want to explore? When do you feel most accomplished and successful?

Reflecting on these things should help clarify the salient things that you want to carry through into your life. Maybe it’s about searching for the ownership of creating something new. Maybe it’s about doing work that can make an impact on other people’s lives. Maybe you just really like numbers.

Everyone has something that puts a fire in their belly and makes them excited to go to work. I am forever grateful that some people are passionate enough to go through all the years to become a doctor; or crunch the numbers to help me with my taxes as I know that could never be me.

Whatever it is for you, hold on to it. Don’t lose sight of it. And measure every decision against how much closer it takes you to this dream.

2. Try something new

With the global economy and job market changing so rapidly, the jobs of tomorrow may not be that obvious. I never knew it was a possibility to be a social media marketer a mere five years ago, and now we’re about a dime a dozen.

So don’t be afraid if not many other people are doing what you think you could be doing. You’re forging a whole new path after all. Be open to trying new things – whether that’s trying a new way of working like freelancing or working with a remote company.

Or maybe it’s about learning new skills. Perhaps you’re starting a new business and yes, eventually have to dabble in a bit of the numbers game. Or maybe you have to start learning some of the tips and tricks of Instagram, just to get your business out there.

To make it out there in the unknown, you will have to embrace the uncertainty of the new and actually create this new life.

3. Fail often and graciously

Look, I’ll be honest. It’s not always going to go well. You’ll lose a client because you couldn’t adjust to the adventure-work balance of this lifestyle. You’ll start hating your job, rehashing all the reasons you wanted to leave behind a corporate lifestyle in the first place.

Every time you take a step forward, you might feel like you’re taking five steps back, questioning everything you know all over again. But this is just part of the process.

Without failure, we cannot find the success. Without the bad stuff, you won’t know what the good stuff is. But that’s also how you know you’re learning, finessing, really carving out your own path, designed exactly for you.

4. Eliminate the things you don’t like

Don’t put up with the bad stuff. You don’t need that in your life anymore. You’ve tried, you’ve failed, you realised it’s no longer for you. So move on and make better choices next time.

Believe me, it’s all too easy to look back wistfully at past decisions and make excuses for why it didn’t work before. I left an advertising agency life behind because I was not responding to the constant hustle, the crazy hours, the misalignment between my values and the work. I was so confident in my decision to leave, to make my own path only to return a year later for three months to the same office, to the same life.

I thought I’d be ok. I’d learned so much about what I didn’t like, surely I could catch myself this time. But mere weeks in, I was back in the hustle, lost and feeling the need to escape all over again.

In my gut, I knew it wasn’t something I wanted and I knew I should’ve listened. Trust your gut and don’t make the same mistakes over and over again.

5. Don’t give up

If it was easy to do this, then it wouldn’t be this unconventional new pathway. It wouldn’t be what it is – that you are making your own career. So when you’re really doubting yourself, when you’re facing the latest in a chain of failures, when you’re thinking of just throwing in the towel, don’t.

I know, it’s much easier said than done. I mean, we’ve all got to do what we need to do to make sure we’ve got enough money to live, we’re able to tackle the obstacles when unexpected life events happen and we survive. There’s no shame in taking a few steps back occassionally.

But if you are focused on what you want to do and know that there’s more to do, you’ve got this. Remember why you started this whole thing and acknowledge just how far you’ve come to get to this point.

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After all this, the work is still never quite done. What might work for you now might not work next year or even next month. Our goals in life change, our priorities change. We need a lifestyle that can keep up with that.

Being flexible as a digital nomad doesn’t just mean in the first step you take to become one. It’s a constant flexibility that needs to be stretched out whenever life throws things in our way. There are plenty of different ways to do it so find the way to do it in that time and realise this will be a never-ending journey to finding a career you love. 

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