Nomads escape stability, but they shouldn't

Life as a nomad means change is relentless. And it’s exhausting. It really is.

It’s arriving alone to a barrage of names and event invites and Slack messages and Instagram tags raining blood and thunder from whatever cloud that shit’s on.

It’s attending a meditation workshop and wondering if there’s anyone else there that also doesn’t really give a fuck.

It’s figuring out where to work -- getting lost in back alleys, falling off a scooter, and nearly killing a puppy on the commute.

And what is that on the menu, exactly? It’s ordering a fried spider because Google translate can suck.

Then... when it becomes familiar (finally figured out what the bum gun is for) it’s time to ditch the newfound home for another and another and another.

This, my friends, is the free-wheeling, rough-and-tumble life we’ve chosen and -- while it can completely shatter us -- we wouldn’t have it any other way… except for when we do.

Burnout, anxiety and even depression are all too common side effects of instability (not a new Instagram tool). If escaping “stability” and “routine” is why you signed up for this lifestyle, I’m sorry to say that you actually need those things in order to sustain it.  

As Sam (Pilotfish Co-Founder) found out, the lack of stability is what left him with a magnitude 8 burnout.

Not having a fixed location is like playing Jenga with the bottom three layers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

maslow-pyramid.jpg

The old formula (a daily commute, eating dinner in the same place, hanging with friends on weekends) works as long as you have a stable home, income, and close friends or relatives around you. Expecting it to work without those things is like trying to circumnavigate the globe with a map drawn by the Flat Earth Society.

Nomads need a new formula for staying happy and healthy across cities and countries. It’s something we need to develop from the sum of our experiences -- and when it comes to instability here’s how we recommend you keep sane.

First, make sure to get out and meet new people. After that, work on building a personal routine.

Look, you’ve probably read a thousand blog posts about routines, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to do. Feel free to read that fluff after you’ve finished this article.

I just want you to keep in mind that having a routine from day one in a new city or country will give you a better chance of avoiding loneliness, anxiety and depression. Routines breed familiarity and familiarity does a good job with those missing Maslow needs.

A lot of people spend too much time binge reading “life hacks” and no time acting on what they’ve “learned.” When you read a “thought leader’s” advice you’re putting the responsibility of “having a successful routine” on them instead of taking it on yourself. You’re not respecting the amount of time required to develop a routine that could positively affect the rest of your life.

So find what works for you, as long as you’re actively finding it. But don’t forget to have a little patience.

Joe Pack