In this increasingly globalized world, more opportunities to see the world, start your own company and get creative with your lifestyle exist. The advent of technology and the “gig economy” has meshed all three of these opportunities, creating a new generation of “digital nomads” who earn five figure monthly incomes and live like kings, while travelling around the world. (To learn more, read: The Rise of the Gig Economy.)
The 4-Hour Workweek
The idea of becoming a self-employed entrepreneur, earning American dollars and living somewhere where those dollars stretch further isn’t a new phenomenon. However, “The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich” by Timothy Ferriss opened many eager eyes, turning a daydream into a real, accessible possibility. Tim Ferriss explains in his novel how he went from making $40,000 per year and working 80 hours a week, to making $40,000 per month, working 4 hours per week.
The Future of Work
Ferriss’ book, published in 2007, was well-received as a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek bestseller and was sold in more than 35 languages around the world. Part of the reason for the book's overnight popularity was because of the interest from a generation frustrated with the weak job market and economy after the Global Recession. The housing market crashed, and unemployment for qualified college graduates was historically high. In 2016, however, the concept of creating your own hours outside an office cube is even more attractive. Entrepreneurs and freelancers can now stretch a stronger dollar abroad, living in luxury for a small fraction of the cost.
In today’s job market, Millennials are increasingly dropping out of the corporate world for freelance jobs. Many follow suit of the young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who’ve made a fortune in the era of massive venture capital funding into startups, particularly tech ‘unicorns.’ Differing from their parents who valued stability, the future of our global workforce values flexibility, completely disrupting the traditional separation of work and play. (For related reading, see: Measuring Job Satisfaction in the Millennial Age.)
So, How Do We ‘Work From Paradise’?
Technology, in particular, social media apps, have let the everyday citizen share their voice within their communities, and across the globe. In more recent times, technology has paved the way for the beginnings of micro-entrepreneurship and workplace freedom, whether it’s picking up a side job for extra income or starting your own global business online. Social media now makes personal branding and marketing easier and more cost-efficient than ever. Travel bloggers and niche small business owners have often launched in less than a year through web content has gone viral or easy to set up crowdfunding campaigns.
We’ve all heard about these success stories—we use the products, download the apps and read the blogs. But we rarely get the back-story outlining the multiple failures entrepreneurs underwent before striking gold. It’s important that before you take the leap of faith, you understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and you accept a bit of a risk in this process. Steve Jobs famously stated, “I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” (Also, read: Are You An Entrepreneur?)
In Tim Ferriss’ TED Talk “Smash fear, learn anything,” he gives real life examples implementing his four step self-improvement plan, “defining aspirations, managing time, creating automatic income and escaping the trappings of the 9-5 life.” Instead of hoarding everything for retirement and depriving yourself of the freedom of mobility early on in your career, Ferriss urges readers to take “mini-retirements” and embrace the mobile lifestyle. (Also, see: 8 Steps To Becoming Your Own Boss.)
The Bottom Line
A growing number of American workers are beginning to trade in their long-haul careers for freelance and entrepreneurial endeavors abroad. Instead of saving everything for retirement, these ‘digital nomads’ take advantage of a strong U.S. dollar to live a high standard of life abroad, while saving a good portion of their incomes. Millennials and those wary of an unstable job market in the U.S. following the Global Recession have championed Timothy Ferriss’ 4-hour workweek. By leveraging the power of technology, individuals are dropping out of the corporate workforce, leveraging a personal brand, trying out remote work and flexing their entrepreneurial muscles. In this way, innovators around the world take advantage of geo-arbitrage to live the life many only dream about.(Also, read: Freelancer Or Employee: Identifying Your Next Career Move.)