On February 1st, we entered the year of the Tiger. They say that people born in the year of the Tiger are brave, confident, determined, and competitive. If you’re wondering how to be a nomad, I’m going to give you my 4 tips on how to embody the characteristics of a tiger and make 2022 your year to start a nomadic lifestyle.
If you’re not familiar with the Chinese Zodiac, it goes in 12-year cycles. The new year usually begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice.
If you were born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, or 2010 you’re a Tiger along with me! I was born in 1986. When I realized it was my year, it got me thinking about the last year of the Tiger – 2010.
That’s when we moved to China. Sasha had lived there for almost a year but it was a brand new adventure for me. We arrived in March – very shortly into the new year – and we still haven’t moved home.
That single decision kicked off 12 years of exciting adventures and led us to create our ideal lifestyle as full-time traveling digital nomads.
So I wanted to go deep and recount where I started this journey. To be completely honest, if you had told me I would move to China and be able to travel full-time as a result, I would’ve said you were nuts. But I’m exactly where I want to be and there’s nothing I would change about the last 12 years.
What Is A Nomadic Lifestyle?
This is an important question we must answer first; what is a nomadic lifestyle? Let’s first start by talking about the meaning of a nomad.
In modern-day English, a nomad is usually a digital nomad. Someone who works online and travels from place to place. They are location-independent meaning they are not tied to living in one specific place.
So what is a nomadic lifestyle then? It’s however you want your lifestyle to look once you become a nomad.
There is no right or wrong way to live a nomadic lifestyle and there is no clear way to create your own. It’s a matter of trial and error and ultimately figuring out what makes you happy.
The road to becoming a nomad can seem long and difficult and that’s why I wanted to write this post. In order to really turn your dream lifestyle into a reality, you have to act and think like a Tiger. That’s how I came up with these tips to create a nomadic lifestyle.
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4 Tips to Make the Year of the TIger Your Year And Start A Nomadic Lifestyle
Our reasons for moving to China have been well-documented on our About Page and in the post about how teaching English in China gave us a better life.
But it was not an easy decision to make. Living in China was never on my radar. I vividly remember how I felt when Sasha told me he was moving to China when we first met. Why China? Of all the places in the world. I thought it was a strange choice.
While he was there, I not-so-secretly stalked his adventures on Facebook. The more pictures I saw and stories I read, the more I started to think, “Man, that looks really cool. I wanna go there.” I always dreamed of traveling the world.
However, I had so many fears. What if I didn’t like China? What if I couldn’t figure out how to use chopsticks? What if Sasha’s friends didn’t like me?
This brings me to tip #1…
1. Be Brave
I’ll be honest, I was so scared of moving to China that I delayed it. I decided I wanted to do a proper job hunt to find something using my degree in Music Business. I could always go to China later once I had gotten some work experience.
My job search ended up being a miserable failure. I did everything I was supposed to do but only succeeded in getting one interview. It was mostly due to the state of the economy. This was during the big recession of 2009. Even still, it ultimately took getting robbed to finally get me on that plane to China.
What I’ve learned is that if you feel a little bit scared to do something big, that’s probably a good thing. Fear helps to keep us safe but it can also stop us from going outside of our comfort zone. And it’s only outside our comfort zone where we can truly grow.
So you must be brave. The true definition of being brave is feeling fear and taking action anyway. I was scared to move to Beijing, but I did it anyway and I’m so glad I did.
Here’s a short list of cool things that have happened as a result of being brave enough to move to China:
- Lived in China for a total of 5 years in Beijing and Kunming
- Learned to teach English and do it well
- Went on a month-long backpacking trip that turned out to be life-changing
- Saved enough to quit our jobs and take a 14-month gap year
- Started this blog and grew it into a business
- Moved to Bali
- Started teaching English online and became digital nomads
- Began coaching others to become traveling teachers
I felt scared before doing most of these things. But every decision to go for it anyways resulted in more good things.
2. Be Confident
Learn to be the best at what you do.
I did not arrive in Beijing as a confident teacher. I still deal with imposter syndrome on a regular basis. Some people are naturally confident. I am not one of those people. It’s not a skill that comes naturally to me.
When Sasha presented me with the idea of teaching English in China, I thought there was no way. I had never taught anything, didn’t know anything about teaching. I studied music and struggled to picture myself as a teacher.
Despite that, I got a part-time job as a tutor in Nashville while I was looking for a job in the Music Business to start getting some experience. It still didn’t quite prepare me for teaching in China.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t the best teacher in the beginning. In fact, my first demo was so bad the principal asked the recruiter to find someone else. The recruiter stood up for me and suggested that they give me a chance as I was there and willing to do the job.
That’s how I got my first teaching job in China. I learned a lot at that job and those new skills helped me get a better teaching job. Once I decided that I really enjoyed teaching English and wanted to make it more of a career, I took an online TEFL course with BridgeTEFL and became an even better teacher.
My point is confidence is a skill you can learn.
By doing. Just start doing something. Be okay with okay and move on but always strive to be better. Listen to the feedback and critiques from the people around you and make changes based on that.
3. Don’t Give Up
Let me be the first to tell you – becoming a nomad is not easy. There are lots of ups and downs. There will be several points where you may wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. You may ask yourself, “Well, how did I get here?” There will be days when you want to give up.
That’s why tip #3 is don’t give up! No matter how hard it gets, you must keep trying. So many people expect things to happen in a short amount of time and they give up when it doesn’t happen fast enough.
There is no such thing as overnight success. Some people achieve a large amount of success in what seems like a short amount of time but I promise you they’ve been working in the background for longer than it may seem. They’ve likely already failed at previous attempts.
If your attempts at creating a nomadic lifestyle really aren’t working, don’t be afraid to pivot and try something else. The first step, and really rule number 1 of being a digital nomad, is to be adaptable. As long as you can roll with the punches, you’ll almost always come out on top.
We launched this blog back in 2013. It took quite a long time to learn how to use WordPress, customize a theme, show up in Google search results, and start earning an income from it. But we made it happen and now it’s a nice little side income to teaching English. It’s a side income we wouldn’t have if we had given up on it.
Traveling in and of itself is a skill. Finding a solid work/life balance also takes time. It’s something we’re still working on but we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We’ve had to adjust our travel speed, figure out where to spend more time, and what’s really important for us.
You can do it too! Find your determination and be persistent.
4. Compete With Yourself
A bit of friendly competition is always a good thing but don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. There will always be other people, businesses, and brands you can’t compete with.
Your biggest competition should be with yourself.
Your goal should always be to grow and improve. Are you a better version of yourself now than you were a year ago? If yes, then I say you’re winning!
Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments.
Bonus Tip: Find A Support System
There is one key ingredient to making the above tips a lot easier to implement and that is having a support system.
I’m very fortunate to have a family who has always supported our nomadic lifestyle. They’ve encouraged us and been there for us during crazy transitions (like a global pandemic and losing your main source of income) and a lot of what we do wouldn’t be as easy without their help.
I also have to confess that I don’t really make any of our travels happen. That’s all Sasha. I just show up and dance.
I’ve done a lot of really cool things over the last 12 years but I don’t think I would’ve done them on my own. Sasha is a master planner and he made all of those experiences happen.
We would love to help you if you need more support! I offer coaching services to aspiring traveling teachers and Sasha offers trip-planning services. Head over to our Work With Us page to learn more then contact us if you’re interested in learning about rates and packages.
If nothing else, the last two years have taught us that things can change quickly. It’s better to live life to the fullest while you can instead of waiting for someday because someday may never come.
So if you see someone living a nomadic lifestyle and think, “That looks cool. I want to do that,” then go for it! No, it won’t be easy. Yes, it will be uncomfortable at times. But I promise the reward is worth it.
You’ll wonder why you waited so long. After all, life begins at the end of your comfort zone.