If you open Instagram and search #digitalnomad, there’s no question that what you’ll see are people sitting at the beach or by a beautiful sea-view pool with their laptops.
While it’s very true that one of the main attractions to the digital nomad or remote work lifestyle is having more control and flexibility over your time and location, this lifestyle can be incredibly lonely, whether you’ve travelling alone or with a partner, whether nomading or simply working remotely.
Isolation is one of the biggest killers of creativity and a huge contributor to slow or no progress, across all areas of your life and silently creeps up on you while you’re on the sofa consuming Netflix after a long day.
Let’s see three common causes of isolation and their possible solutions.
The type of work is obviously a major factor in how connected or isolated one can feel. If you are a trainer or team leader, you may spend the majority of your day with peers or trainees for example and actually welcome some quiet time to yourself.
The reality is that many professionals working remotely and especially digital nomads, work in the fields of tech, design, art, data etc and involve spending a large portion of their role working alone.
Software developers, designers and even teachers and coaches may have very limited interaction with more than one person at any given time and sooner or later, you begin to wonder why you are nomading or living abroad at all.
There are of course many advantages to working from home, however, it can also be far too comfortable which is the source of the problems to come.
It’s far easier after a day’s work to stay home, slip into the pj’s order a takeaway and put your feet up than to shower, dress up and drive into town, especially if you’re not central.
I recall close friend and US Navy Commander Dominic Romanowski warning me before relocating to the Canary Islands, “Don’t get too comfortable out there. It’s so easy for people like us to get bored. Don’t let the success kill you.”
He was right.
Find ways to connect with more people, both at work and outside.
You may have a solo job but there are still ways to collaborate. Former coach Taylor founded productivity platform FocusMate whose goal is to "To empower people and groups to achieve their goals by unlocking the power of psychology, technology and the human spirit." Users from around the world book a time, meet up, share tasks, complete them and review together for accountability.
It’s a simple and effective way to meet interesting people from different countries AND complete your tasks on time too.
Another solution is to hire your own teacher, coach or join a group training or program. This is an excellent way to meet people with common interests and use your time effectively to learn essential skills.
Working From Home
Working remotely is often associated with working from a home office and can be another cause of isolation.
By working at home in the next room, you are missing out on the underground commute, the coffee pickup, the cantine lunch break and so on; all instances where we are either engaging with people or are at least surrounded by others.
Working from home is convenient but can destroy certain areas of your life including your social life, relationships, creativity etc
Take your work with you.
Upon first landing in Tenerife, I would go to T.E.A, a modern and advanced library and study area with free 24/7 access. While I still enjoy using these facilities, I cannot use the space for live coaching or calls therefore it isn't sustainable.
The best options for you could be to rent a cubicle or join a coworking office and leverage the latter to connect with new people (probably) in a similar position to you.
I enjoyed an entire year at Workeamos located in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and truly benefited from the community that was present. I made friends and contacts from a variety of countries which completely changed my worklife.
Even if you aren’t a digital nomad explicitly, you may be working remotely due to living and relocating overseas which comes with its own set of challenges.
Where a digital nomad can pack up and move on when he or she desires, it isn’t as easy for the professional or business owner who has relocated with the entire family.
I hope you have chosen your new location well or researched it as much as you could before moving or being sent there. Cultural integration is another major challenge to living a successful life abroad.
Not knowing any of the local language is one major factor and can be in part prevented with study and practice before moving. It is always useful to learn the most essential phrases before moving somewhere as it will help locals be more accepting of you as an outsider.
Cultural norms also play their part; the way people interact, relate, communicate, socialise can be quite different from what you’re used to. Some things won’t make absolutely any sense to you while others maybe painfully the same.
Do your due diligence as best you can beforehand and as differences arise, embrace them.
By being open, accepting and even curious to learn more, you won’t create internal resistance and rather enjoy the differences as part of the wonderful experience you’re going through.
Learning the language is respectful to the local people and will enrich your own culture and experience. When people see you try, it will be easier for them to welcome you into their circles, whichever they may be: sport, social, parenting, networking etc
Take a language course, either locally or online and receive the added benefit of befriending other learners too.
Embrace local culture and jump in! If there are any traditions or festivals, make sure you join and actively participate. It may mean getting a costume or learning a particular dance. Whatever it may be, as locals see you trying your best, you're almost certainly destined to connect with people a lot more.
Finally, join a community and if there isn’t one that suits you, create your own. There are no excuses thanks to technology and the sheer numbers of expats, digital nomads and remote workers.
Get out of the house and say goodbye to isolation. Which solution is most appealing to you and when are you going to try it?
PS Whenever you are ready to achieve goals faster and more effectively than ever before as a digital nomad or remote worker, book a call and let's explore the possibilities.