When the words ‘digital nomad’ are uttered, most people will bring to mind Insta-worthy images of the coveted laptop lifestyle, cocktails by the pool and traveling the globe while living it large. Given the supposed glamour and swoon-worthy depiction of being a digital nomad, it is no surprise that – according to this site – 50% of the workforce will be remote by 2020.
But for some, the ‘digital nomad’ life is about so much more than living one big endless holiday. It is about freedom, breaking the constraints of societal expectations, pursuing a life you are passionate about and taking an (often terrifying) leap which allows you to escape the confines of your office, your cushy 9-5 and your rinse and repeat lifestyle.
We caught up with Tarek Kholoussy to talk about breaking the mold and taking the leap from corporate into a digital nomad lifestyle as a social entrepreneur who wants to positively impact the Earth.
Tarek has an impressive history, graduating from Georgetown and receiving NBA Honours from NYU. His journey to becoming a social entrepreneur and digital nomad began while he was working in strategic leadership in the corporate landscape in New York City. He tells us how, despite having a stable corporate career and educational accolades, “I was finding myself less excited and less motivated in what I was doing”. I am sure many of our readers can relate to this sentiment.
Nomads Giving Back came as an answer to his inner-search for a more meaningful and fulfilling life, a need to do something real to help and make a lasting impact on the Earth and a string of events and synchronicities that led him on this path.
In 2012 – while still working in corporate – he had four moments over a few months that challenged him and acted like a wake-up call, setting him up on an entirely new trajectory in his life. Tarek shares how witnessing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – where he lived – along with his closely-aged cousin’s untimely passing significantly opened his eyes to the “real problems” and struggles people face, along with being presented with the reminder of his mortality.
Faced with these events, Tarek began to ask himself – “What am I going to do with the time that I have on this Earth?”.
Tarek shares how a chance meeting with a random stranger opened his eyes to the possibility of “living the life he always dreamed of living” and that it fuelled a desire for him to boldly pursue his dreams. After the string of synchronicities and events which acted as a not-so-subtle nudge for him, he shares “I bought I one-way-ticket, and I never looked back”.
The result of his leap of faith and radical lifestyle change became the founding of Nomads Giving Back, which has now grown to 47 events over 8 different countries in its first year of conception and which “gives digital nomads and ex-pats a chance to ‘give back’ to the communities they call home away from home”.
Tarek discusses how challenging it was for him to break out of the mold and the comfortable lifestyle he was in initially because “we’re all conditioned… every day we’re living a habitualised life and surrounding ourselves with the same people/family/company… it becomes this perpetuating cycle of living a predictable life because you’re just playing a role.”
We asked Tarek if he had any advice for readers who want to break out of the lifestyle, role or career their in and overcome the challenge he just described. He tells us that in order to experience different, you need to act differently, that “outside of that regular area, that routine, is where you gain perspective.”
He gives readers some activities that he pursued in the early stages of taking the leap to becoming a digital nomad, that may assist you on your journey.
Tarek was consumed by TED talks in those early days of his journey and describes all of the types of self development and inspirational content he would seek out. Why is this so helpful to Tarek, and why will it help you on your journey?
Our emotions are hugely influential when it comes to our follow through and feeling inspired can have a massive impact on whether or not you are able to stick to your guns. Learning from professionals, from people who have already traveled down the path you have, or consuming content that is informative, motivational and inspirational will help you to stay on task and continually striving when you’re faced with adversity along the way.
Tarek tells us that during the most formative time of his self-exploration journey, “I decided to be careful about who I let into my space and try to minimize that time with them.” Rather than spending time with those who re-enforced the old ‘role’ he would play, he would seek out people who inspired him and encouraged him to grow and expand.
An excellent way to grow and develop is to surround yourself with people who motivate and inspire you in some way – people who are further along the journey than you or who are already doing what you aspire to do. This is expansive energy to be around and will help you to learn and grow purely by diffusion.
Tarek shares that it wasn’t until the wheels were well and truly in motion, he was already a significant way along the path and had already resigned from his corporate job that he decided to tell anybody of his plans. He knew that his family and friends would discourage him out of fear and when he did eventually tell them, “that’s when the push-back came…but by that point, it was too late.”
The reality is, sometimes the people closest to us are not supportive of our goals, our visions, our career changes or our lifestyles… and that is totally ok. They don’t have to understand or even like it in order for us to succeed.
If you know that your close family/friends/partner will react negatively and that it will affect your ability to go through with taking the plunge, avoid telling them for as long as possible. Keep it on a ‘need to know’ basis until you’re set-up, stable and you’re over the biggest hurdles. Know that their lack of support or understanding isn’t because they don’t love or care about you – in fact, it’s usually because they love and care about you. Set some clear boundaries and keep your business to yourself until you’re at a point where you feel comfortable with facing a potential backlash. While they might not understand or support you initially, they almost always will come around when they see what you have achieved and how it has impacted your life and happiness. They are only afraid of the unconventional lifestyle you are seeking because it’s not familiar to them.
We asked Tarek what living the unconventional life means to him – “[It] means taking a step outside of yourself [and] your comfort zone to really trying to understand as much as you can of who you are… liberating yourself from the shackles of whatever life you feel trapped in… finding and seeking out experiences and people who inspire the real you.”
Tarek is offering a one-on-one 30-minute consultation to one of our readers to chat about anything you’re passionate about, learn more about the journey of becoming a digital nomad or for support on their own personal growth path. To be entered to win the giveaway, click here. A winner will be selected next week.
You can find out more about Tarek and the wonderful work that Nomads Giving Back does at: www.nomadsgivingback.com