So I just finished packing my backpack for the next half year. I'm booked on a one-way ticket to Miami end of this month - a leap into the life I always wanted to have.
But let me start at the beginning. My name is Chris and I'm a 24 year old German online marketing nut. I've always been into travelling and adventures but could never bring myself to actually abandon all the materialistic crap that was effectively weighing me down.
Crazy shit I've done covers hitchhiking 5000 miles from Toronto to San Diego, living the sweet French life in Bordeaux as a resident and cracking chilly crabs while living in Singapore (before I actually turned vegetarian). However sweet those times were, a major piece of the puzzle always seemed to be missing.
That's when I picked up Tynan's book on living a minimalist life. It fundamentally changed my beliefs from day one (thanks Tynan)! I didn't even finish reading the book before I started throwing stuff out. It all seemed so obvious: I was wearing 10% of my clothes 90% of the time anyway. So why not ditch the remaining stuff and never wonder again what to wear? And so went all the rest: Sunglasses, old laptops, computer games, magazines, shoes, books. To be fair: I could probably still throw out way more stuff but I think it's a good start. I got rid of at least 75% of my things. Oh boy, how it hurt at that time, but I never looked back.
I got a Deuter Futura 28, used the money I got on eBay for my old stuff to get a couple of IceBreaker shirts (best thing I ever owned), and stripped my normal packing list down to the bare minimum. That was end of last year, during my final year at university.
While all my friends went on to get nine-to-five jobs, I decided against it. If I got a shot at my dream life, there's no better time than now. So I became self employed since January 2012, doing online marketing, social media strategy, split testing, etc. After a rough start, it's now going great. I've got an international client base who doesn't give a shit about where I'm located and I'm doing projects for people all over the world.
The best thing is: My girlfriend is cool with it. We decided to do a couple of months in the U.S. this year so she took up an internship at a big company in Chicago and just moved there a few weeks ago. I'm joining her after a quick stop in Miami.
So here I am: Waiting to move into an amazing apartment in one of the best areas of Chicago with a direct view of the Sears Tower, with the girl I love. I'm doing stuff for a living that I'm passionate about and I'm 100% free to plan my day as I like (remember, all my life fits into the 28l backpack).
Was it not for Tynan, I'd probably spend my waking time in a crammed office in Germany, still dreaming about what I could do instead. I owe you, dude. If you happen to be in Chicago, let's share a cup of tea. Thanks for writing that book and the great content on your blog!
I only just saw this. Awesome, inspiring stuff, man, and amazing that your girlfriend is cool with it.
Might as well use this thread for introductions since other people are too... I'm a friend of Tynan's from childhood, though we only just reconnected in the past couple years. In any case our paths didn't diverge that far when it comes to the minimalism - I was wearing FiveFingers and routinely purging tons of possessions every time I moved apartments when we reconnected. Since then it's definitely gotten more intense.
I've spent the last 16 years making videogames, and currently work at Bungie as a lead engineer. I can't call my job "cushy" in the sense of letting me be lazy, it's really hard work with some of the smartest people I've ever met. But I have the traveling itch, too. I was just saying to my boyfriend Eric that I'm starting to worry that liquid fuel availability over the next 5-10 years may drive flight prices higher and higher and the window on being able to reasonably travel the world may start to close. I'm taking it as an imperative - I told Eric the other day that 5 years from now I want to have spent at least a full year away from home. I'm reasonably well-traveled but usually in 2-4 week chunks, so I don't know what my tolerance is for being away. Maybe 3 months at a stretch?
On the upside for me, savings and earning potential aren't that big a deal - 16 years of software engineering and running teams and management and leadership practice make me insanely employable, as a consultant or otherwise. On the downside, I'm 32 already so you 23-year-olds have almost a decade on me in getting started. It evens out, I guess.
I have that other thread where I'm posting the work I'm doing on my Rialta. I decided to move into it after realizing I like living in small spaces and just want a nice kitchen - and it provides both of those things! So far I've talked Eric into living in it too, along with 2 cats. We'll... uh, we'll see how that goes. I will not be surprised if 3 months from now I'm posting about how we rented a small apartment with a parking spot for the Rialta and are splitting our time in the RV and apartment. I can deal with that. Though I'm super excited to do weekend rock climbing trips in the Rialta this summer, and I'm hoping to park it down at the rock gym I climb at in Seattle to get my training in high gear.
I'm going to post this as its own topic because it is such an amazing writeup, but I read this: http://www.paulgraham.com/addiction.html - this morning, and it really made me realize how important it is to have community like the one here at this site, because being an iconoclast in the service of living well is tough sometimes, when you're surrounded by people who basically think you're nuts and want to talk about what color they're painting the accent wall in their condo. Those people are lovely, and I like them, but I find I have to really make sure to spend time with people like you guys, here, to keep from being lulled into complacency. Reading about what you guys are doing is inspiring me to push even harder on my own stuff.
Rock on, and I look forward to reading more about your adventures!
Hey Brian, do you work for the same Bungie that created Marathon for the Mac way back in the 90's? I spent a good part of my teen years replaying the demo levels over and over again for some reason. Didn't they have a map editor as well? I didn't have money back then but if I'm not mistaken the demo maps were still moddable somehow. Anyway thought that company disappeared during the early 2k's guess they hadn't really. I just wikipedia'd them and apparently now they've parented some companies and game series which have been real popular. Anyway I got a bachelor's in CS myself - all those people are smart in one way or another. I always thought I was one smart cookie until I major'd in that years ago - it has been a humbling experience that's for sure!
As for the fuel running out I've read a lot regarding how the earth continually generates oil from the interactions of the heat of the molten layer and the various minerals around it (abiotic oil theory). The common consensus is that this theory is broken but if it were that bad people wouldn't still find new hooks to argue it over. Anyway I'm thinking we may not have the full story on oil or full understanding of the substance. As one who looks for truth it may be the fact oil is just deemed as scarce just to keep the common people subdued. One only need to look at diamonds to see how easy it is for a common mineral to be sensationalized and used to produce immense profit. I could be wrong but given the history of all governments penchant for control I wouldn't put it past them. It all sounds like a bunch of conspiracy theory but overall as I said earlier I have this inner feeling inside that we're not getting the entire story on where energy comes from and what it actually is.
I read the Paul Graham articles on starting your own startup many years ago - genius writer. Now I want to post an introduction it's contagious I'll do that later.
Hey! Yep, we're that Bungie. Marathon had its fans for sure; I was a Doom player myself, back then. But yeah, more people know us for Halo, these days.
CS is good. Anyone can program, but the thing that makes you an excellent programmer is a deep understanding of algorithms (asymptotic running time etc.), data structures, the underlying platforms, and the years of experience that give you a rich set of patterns to match against. And it has to be the right experience - I've met a number of programmers who have a set of patterns but they're dangerous ones, and they get cemented in very well. It's easy to accidentally build a bunch of very bad habits and convictions.
Brian, thanks so much for your input. I've followed your Rialta thread for a while, too, and it seems like a cool project.
I think you're right about the increasing flight prices. Right now is probably the best time for living a nomadic life and it's hard to predict how it will be in the future. However, people will always find excuses why it's not a good time to make a change in their life. It's good to have a place like this blog to share ideas with like-minded folks.
That's a cool and inspiring read, man! Cool to see you're living the life you want (and even more amazing that you've found a girl who's cool with that).
I'm a 23 year old guy from the Netherlands, pretty much doing the same stuff you're doing , only lagging one step behind you on several points. I've been following Tynan's blog for years now, and read Life Nomadic as well, changing the way I look at several fundamental things as well. I went on a 3-month trip through Europe last September-December, and happened to run into Tynan along the way (offering me some more great advice).
Anyway, I want to make travel into a full-time lifestyle as well. I'm finishing my studies right now (finished in June) and want to go out and travel from then on out. I sold almost all my stuff and have bought most of the gear I need (love the Deuter as well), and am almost ready to go.
Except for one thing. I want to earn money along the way and am not sure how to do it. I've been learning PHP, HTML and CSS for the last couple of months, but am not sure I can provide for myself building websites. This is the one thing that still scares me: not going to be able to make ends meet and having to return, defeated and empty-handed. As you're probably aware, I find it extremely hard to meet likeminded people for feedback.
Anyway, I've got a great interest in online marketing as well, and might want to find a way to earn my living in that area as well. However, I hardly know anything about it, and do not know how to go about learning the skills necessary to earn my money doing that. Since you recently went through a similar process, could you share with me what were the steps you took to earn a living online? What do you advise me to do? How do you find your clients and how did you start making money?
I'm done with my studies mid-June and then will have enough money to live on for about two months, before I need to have a sustainable income, completely from online sources. Any spare time up until that point will be spend on learning skills necessary to do so.
Your advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks for your reply and great to read about your plans.
I think you're on the right track dude. Many people fall for sleazy websites that offer automated income and afiliate crap and promise the sweet 4-Hour-Work-Week life out of nowhere. Do not fall for that stuff! In order to make a solid income, I believe you will need to work hard. Yes, it's the truth, but it's nothing to be afraid of I think :-)
To build relevant skills first is exactly the way to go about it. Have a good thought about what it is you want to do and then get EXTREMELY good at it. Don't worry too much, you'll learn a lot about the business side of it along the way.
Once you got that done you should be at a point where you can deliver a good service that actually solves some people's problems. Like you could build a good looking and stable website for somebody and host it from scratch. Once you are able to do this, there's only one tip I can give you:
Head over to Ramit Sethi's blog: http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/
Subscribe to all his newsletters, download all free scripts and courses and READ ALL THE posts he's got on earning money on the side. He's actually a friend of Tynan and his advice is pure gold. The articles are really long sometimes but they answer exactly your questions. I've read so much of his stuff over the last years and even bought his online course (was well worth it in retrospect).
Now the most important thing: DO THE THINGS YOU LEARN FROM RAMIT!
Don't just read it. Do it!
He teaches you how to find new clients in detail, but you'll need to really follow his advice. You'll see results, as I did :-)
Good luck man! Keep pushing through with it. The worst thing that could happen is that you would need to take up a normal nine-to-five job!
Thanks for the quick reply man. I really appreciate the advice.
I definitely want to work hard and earn my way to financial freedom, to make sure it's integrated and authentic. I'm not just looking for fast cash, but for something sustainable.
I've heard of Ramit before (through Tynan) and got his book here, but never read it. I will definitely start to check his stuff out and follow up on your recommendations.
So far I've narrowed the next step I want to be at concerning an income down to:
1) It's got to be something I can do from wherever I want in the world, as long as I have my laptop and an internet-connection.
2) I have to learn a valuable skill while doing it.
3) I have to be able to earn at least â‚¬800,- a month (at 40 hours a week)
4) Preferably it has something to do with online businesses.
5) Preferably I'm self-employed.
However, I don't have any strict preferences as to what it's going to be that I'm going to be doing, so I ended up on either programming and designing websites (which is why I started learning HTML/PHP/CSS) or online marketing, both of which I really like.
I'm annoyed that my studies take up so much of my time (and leave little time for me to develop these skills right now), which I consider dead time, but have to complete them to negate a student debt.
You're right, the worst thing that could happen is having to come back to the Netherlands and start a regular job for a while.
I just really hope I'll be able to make a living out of this in two months time before cash runs out. I find myself worrying frequently whether or not this'll work.
Anyway, in June I'm heading out to live in either Berlin or Spain for two/three months. If my income is enough to sustain myself, I'll head out to another continent straight after, if not, I'll head back to the Netherlands to create a new strategy.
Thanks man, enjoy your travels and maybe we'll run into each other somewhere.
Ramit's book is a good read, too. Although if your short on time put it back for the time being. It focuses on managing your money, debt and credit cards. While it's definitely a great book, I think you're better off reading through his blog first, where he goes into building a side income.
This will be perfect, considering that you've got little time left apart form your studies. It's a pretty straight forward process that he teaches and if you're committed, you can make a big leap in two months :-)
Also: DEFINITELY check this: http://recessionproofgraduate.com/
Let me know if you're near Chicago in the next six months. We should meet!
Hey Jurgen, are you still in the Netherlands? I'm studying in Utrecht now. It would be great to meet up with someone like you.
Thanks everyone for this amazing thread, it's great to read all your stories and know that I'm not alone in my dream for a different, better life. I've been reading Tynan's blog for years and it has profoundly affected the way I think about the world.
However, subconsciously I always thought that Tynan was somehow different and more talented than I was (BS excuse, I know) and that I couldn't really live my life the way he does. However, it's amazing to that see other people at my age and background can also take charge of their life and achieve the things I am dreaming about.
I will also take the opportunity to introduce myself. I am 20-year-old student from Latvia, currently studying in the Netherlands. Every day I realize that my studies now are essentially useless, and that I could get the same knowledge (and more) from just reading a few books on my own. The lectures I get here are crap anyway, anyone can get much better stuff on the internet for free.
With that said, I am planning to finish my bachelor's degree. I only have one year left, and dropping out know would have dire financial consequences (I'm getting a student grant that has to be repaid if I don't graduate).
Just like the other posters, I am hugely motivated to never get a 9-to-5 job in my life (unless I am owner of the company). I couldn't imagine spending my life in an office wasting my life at a job I that hate just to make my boss richer. I know that it's possible to have a different, better life, and there is no way I will ever be able to settle for less.
Of course, to make this all possible I have to find a way to support myself financially. I've been following the IM world for years, but so far with very little success. I've only had ones somewhat profitable website. However, it was not really a success considering the amount of time I put into it, so I sold it. Funnily enough, I'm still getting about $100/month in commissions because the new owner never replaced my affiliate links.
I am currently looking for new approaches to making money, and I think consulting or offering online services might be easier to start with. Most other routes (blogging, becoming an authority in your niche, creating a well-ranking site, etc.) just don't seem feasible at the moment. The time is ticking and I desperately need to be making at least $1000/month online a year from now. I'll surely check out the blog mentioned above.
On the side, I'm learning programming and dreaming about app development. I also intend to get into pickup the moment the money issue is solved. My social skills are not that great and I'm more shy than I would like to be. However, I think it is best to focus on just a few things at a time and do them thoroughly.
With that said, I still feel that my productivity is way below its potential level, and I am also looking for ways to fix that. Maybe now is the time to finally get involved with taskSMASH.
I just finished my bachelor's (finally) and I'm leaving the
Netherlands next sunday, but will be in Utrecht either friday or saturday. It
would be cool to meet up. Message me to set something up.
The feeling of usefulness of your study sounds really familiar. A large part of our modern education system seems like a major timesink to me which we delude ourselves into participating in. Finish your bachelor so you free yourself from the financial obligations and get done with it. Anyway, if your study is anything like mine, you probably have plenty time on the side to invest into developing skills you can monetize later.
The approach Ramit lines out on his blog really seems solid to me and I like it a lot so far. It basically comes down to finding a skill you want to monetize, finding a way to make an appealing offer to your clients and then continuously work at finding clients. Thanks again for pointing this out to me, Chris.
As for productivity, I really liked the Wake Up Productive program by Eben Pagan. There's more time in your days than you know.
To me it sounds like you've got your head in the right direction. Now it's time to stop thinking about it and start doing it. Write out want you want to achieve. Figure out what brings you the highest leverage in life. Plan out a course of action. Then take action. Keep on working at it. Test your skills in the real world and be willing to fail and fail fast. If you keep on going at it, you'll end up where you want to be.
At least, that's what I hope. But I'm prepared to go back home penniless and try again if this course of action ends up not working out
It's so amazing to follow the bustling conversations my post inspired. You guys are definitely on the right track. I remember a few months back, when I felt exactly the same as you probably do. Our society leads us to a false sense of security, which is hard to shake off. How can it be financially more risky to start your own business, than to put 100% of your income stream into the hand of one single employer?? If you crash and burn, at least you tried, there's not much to be lost. I'm glad the Ramit stuff is helpful - it sure made a difference to me! :-) Keep it up guys!
"That's when I picked up Tynan's book on living a minimalist life."
Are you referring to Life Nomadic?
p.s. Kodos to the German education system: excellent English.
Really great story buddy thank you for sharing I'm 22 years old trying to figure out what type of work i want to do really inspiring to hear about this though. Minimalism is really just about creating space for the important stuff in life.
I'm elai, I've been reading tynan's blog for years. When I first started I was a university student in Canada, dreaming of travelling the world and wanting to drop out of university and start my own software business. I didn't drop out but I did travel for 3 months in south east asia. Now the software industry is booming, I live in Silicon Valley a 45 minute drive away from SF, and I would of only been able to get that visa with a university degree. It's a bit unreal at times where I am compared to the year ago when I was in school, but I still feel like I'm leaving things on the table.
As the swiss say, you can always do better.
I am jealous. But there is no reason to be if I just do it. However...
I work a job paying min wage I cannot stand and have probably 15,000 in student loans. So I am not sure if full time travel is in my future. I really do long for the day I can do what you did.
Unfortunate to hear that. I know it's too late now but in the future could you find a way to square the circle per se? Meaning - instead of doing things how the world says they should be done - doing things your own way with what you have. Example: Why go to an expensive college? College is no guarantee of anything nowadays (except student loans which apparently CANNOT be removed by declaring bankruptcy - someone needs to change the law. Apparently it's ok to bomb business/banks/stock market but it's not ok to make mistakes when you're young bah!) All the old timers say college is required for job then house then wife etc etc but they're all just parrots repeating the party line. A lot of the most successful people in this world never went to college at all. Maybe there's free schooling in your area or a really cheap community college. If not screw college altogether! A lot of things online are free for the taking these days and they are an utter wealth of information compared to what you can learn from any sort of 'insitution of learning'.
Another example - why work min wage? Are you really that worthless? Maybe there are other things of value you can offer which pay much more you can do in your spare time (even at the min wage job!). Like for me I'm a ranting thinker/philosopher it seems - maybe I should start charging for my thoughts - or doing battle rap and sell the mp3's (how random). Just throwing stuff out there - if you desire it enough you can make your dreams come true regardless of situation. One red paperclip (google it up) - in a series of trades guy turns a red paperclip into a house!
War in Heaven. Thanks. I needed to hear that.
I am not that worthless. But I realized that what I have in life is my own fault: my student loans and min wage job.
I working on a blog that will replace my min wage income.
I don't plan on going back to college- the money has to come out of my pocket and I can't afford to go back now. For now I will work until the website takes off.
No prob. Sorry if I sounded unusually harsh in my original post. Just my personality I guess - I tend to be a bit instigative hoping it will break people out of stasis. Could also be a reflection of how I expect people to treat me when trying to install new ideas. I'm a stubborn one I think. Anyway it seems like you're in the right place mentally. I think if you just stay the course something will come to you that will break you out of the cycle and into the life you really want. You seem congruent and all there with pure intention - I personally think only good things can come from that.
Hey Chris, thanks for sharing. Truly inspirational to see you succeeding at living life on your own terms. In fact Im a 23 year old marketing student from Germany too, currently in the process of chasing similar goals. After my graduation in summer I want to start a flexible online business that enables me full time traveling too. Everyone keeps reminding me that Im crazy everytime I mention it. Most of the time it seems kind of surreal, but stories like yours keep reminding me that its actually possible. Thanks! I make sure to follow your advice :)
Hi Florian! Thanks for your comment :)
I know exactly what you mean. In fact, I rarely mention my own goals and lifestyle in small talk anymore. I learned that people are more interested in keeping the status quo and their own mental card house intact than to listen to something new. As a result, almost everyone is trying to talk you out of pursuing your ideal life. It makes me sick.
The most common concern I hear is "how awefully risky that it, considering that I have no financial security". Well, you see, having a nine-to-five job means 100% of your income is depending on ONE SINGLE SOURCE. Lose your job, lose your existence. Now, how secure is that? If I lose a client, I still have plenty of work and I only lose a fraction of my income.
Most people, unfortunately, aren't open for rational discussions about that. Getting a normal job and building a house in the suburbs is just what you're "supposed to do"... so why mess with it, right?
Don't let them talk you out of it! They're afraid you might succeed :)
Don't let them talk you out of it! They're afraid you might succeed :)
As one of the newly budding flowers recently exposed to the light of 'living the life on your terms' concept people only try to talk you out of doing things like this because they are trapped on the consciousness level of fear. I should know well - spending a whole lot of idle time in there and all :D. They believe they are just trying to protect you from pain and hurt while in reality they are only expressing an exact reflection of their inner reality to you. These people would NOT do this themselves so they project that and impose it upon others unconsciously.
I think this is why I'm so hungry for learning about the truth nowadays. If people saw reality for how it truly IS then I think they'd be saying a whole lot of different things. People believe our realities are static and unchanging - that we are just consciousness thrown into the irregularity of a cruel and merciless world. I have to admit sometimes I believe this myself. On one of my earlier blogs I wrote a phrase that sums this concept up 'We are more fragile than we think - our world hurtling through cold dangerous asteroid filled space being not much more than a shelter of thin glass'. At my worst I believe this is true but we don't live at our worst but always strive to live at our best. Thus at our best we see that the human potential is infinite. This blog is proof of that; as an example I found this site sidegrading from Steve Pavlina's personal development site and the article Tynan wrote about meeting them. Having read some pickup before I became instantly immersed in Tynan's descriptions and stories of the experience - seguing into reading The Game which influenced me greatly. Then I read his pickup book and found out Tynan was just like the rest of us. He had no natural gifts and talents and skills with women. He just had a dream, strong desires coupled with a steely heart, and made himself into what he wanted to be just like that. I cannot say enough about this - literally he was just a no name kid who took the reins of life and became what he truly is. Now he lives in an RV and faces life on his terms with many like-minded others. Pickup/travelling/coding/etc... this guy does it all - the dream is the catalyst for manifested reality and it looks so easy. IMO this is the big draw of Tynan's site. We see everyday normal people taking the reins and wonder, 'what stops me from doing the same?'
To sum up we full well know human desire is infinite - given how the rich are never satisfied in their black hole consumption of the world's resources. That we know by obvious experience. Given that we may conclude that other human traits may be likewise infinite. We can't think of the biggest number, we have no limits to our imaginations. (though I think the Japanese are the edges of light racing through the darkness of space in their exploration of sexuality - half the things I hear about coming from there still shock me!) Without meditation most of us can't even keep our thoughts from coming to us - they are an endless flow. Given all that if we truly by our nature are infinite, and take that as truth, and can have anything we want, why would we give advice such as 'get a 9 to 5'? LOL
Kudos Chris! I'm a fellow 23 y/o German online marketing nut and have only one year of studies left 'till I'll write a post like yours ;)
Now it's time for the one post that everyone's been waiting for. The 2010 Gear Post.
For a quick background: my method is to have very few items, all of which are as small as possible and as awesome as possible. The goal is to have a tiny bag but be prepared for absolutely everything. This year I've gotten closer to that ideal than ever before. You can see my 2009 packing list here to compare.
The Bag: Ortlieb Flight 22
I'm moving out of my room that I've been in for eight years. Moving means packing, and packing means going through all of the stuff that I have and deciding what I want to keep, and what I want to get rid of. As I'm going through this stuff, I'm wondering why I've kept some of it for so long.
I'm a sentimental person, but traveling has made me realize how little I really need to survive. After all, the things that truly matter - love, happiness, music, travel, people, adventure, memories - aren't materialistic.
So (excuse my language) why the hell do I have all of this shit? Why do I have ten pairs of socks I haven't worn in years when someone else could be making good use out of them? Why do I have a watch that I got when I was six years old, a baseball I found during band practice (I don't even play baseball!), and a beanie I used to love but haven't worn in three years? Why on earth did I keep a report I wrote in high school that I'm never going to read again, a cheap plastic yo-yo, and six decks of cards?
I'm finding that I've held on to things I don't need or use or even think about anymore. So as I got through my stuff I'm trying to keep only the things I know I'll use or enjoy on a regular basis. So far all I'm keeping are clothes, photos (the ones that mean something), a few books, a music stand, some dvds, my notebooks, my travel maps, and a few posters for my dorm room. Everything else is going.
My new goal is to get rid of these things on a regular basis, so that I'm never keeping more than I need. The most important things are not things at all.