A nomad is a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.
I was told that when I walk through my office deep in thought and forget to smile, an angry and intimidating face is seen to passersby. I feel distracted from the presentation when there is someone sitting in the row behind me. Processing subtext like unintended body language, obnoxious stomp volume, and remembering to perform hourly walks around the office to maximize facetime with colleagues – I find myself halfway to a panic attack before even taking real work into account. Needless to say, when I joined a corporate culture that allowed me to work the way best for me, I was able to materially increase the efficiency and effectiveness of my day. I would sit at the “nomad desks” in our building, wear clothes that didn’t restrict typing/drawing speed, and take meetings from any location if that day called for some multitasking. Fast forward a decade and while I still love going to an office if it’s time to make the ground shake with collaborative progress before a deadline, I am now fully remote on most “normal” workdays.
My whole life could more or less be called nomadic. From changing lodging in childhood each year until high school to trying out more than a dozen different jobs before pursuing my full-time career, to annually testing a different side-hustle business idea. Hunting for new ideas and opportunities has always appealed to me more than having one default value for a life category (unless I’m trying to automate food and eat chicken breast and veggies for each meal), maybe has to do with the lack of options in the Soviet culture where I was initially raised. Even when working at one location for six years, I moved seven times to different Boston neighborhoods. Is it an instinctual hunter/gatherer preset? Or a conscious effort to efficiently diversify life experiences? Maybe there is a philosophical/psychological point to be made for my behavior and that of other nomads, I choose to focus on being optimally productive in my quest to benefit society.
Some of the fun jobs/projects that I have encountered include:
- Powered paragliding instructor
- Finance/data science (enterprise, public, private)
- Sales and marketing (direct, digital, bid contracts, market research)
- Over a dozen more.
If you find yourself living a nomadic lifestyle, professionally or geographically, it is important to recognize the added sense of freedom in your life. While certainly easy for this to feel like a tactical benefit, it can also turn out to be a strategic hindrance if not maintained. With great power comes great responsibility, as Peter Parker told us. You can work and live in a style tailored to your needs and personality, but as guidelines fall away so do the supports. Living in one community, or working in one office, you are surrounded by a society with a specific set of rules. These rules are in place to give guidance to those that need it, on how to maximize their productivity and happiness. Living with extra freedoms, you must ensure certain basic needs are covered. Here are some tips that I have found useful:
Physical – diet, exercise (plyometric videos are a high-ROI activity that can be done in any setting), sleep. Listen to your body.
Mental – mindfulness, meditation, sleep (2x importance). Maintain relationships/support-system (personal, professional, romantic, family) to best navigate the ups/downs of life, and facilitate happiness.
While longer-term vacations are certainly important, a friend once told me about his practice of breaks throughout the day. “Focus on the important tasks, and switch off between an hour of work and an hour of play,” he said. Since meeting him I have been especially committed to diluting daily stress with rounds of meditation.
Hope and love and beauty. Remember to rest. Processing emotion with the logical side of our brain is well-complemented with using the emotional side by way of creative hobbies. If you are able to remove some of the restraints that slow you down in life, be sure to replace them with new challenges better suited to your game. Whatever you do, do not become complacent and lazy. The only thing to regret is regret.
Invented during my nomadic pandemic days. Give it a try!
- A handful of brussels sprouts, trim the bottoms off
- Handful of broccoli
- 1 can of tuna
- 1 bag of microwavable lentils
Coat the pan with olive oil. On medium heat, add brussels sprouts and broccoli. Cook for 15 minutes. Add tuna and stir. Add lentils. Cook for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!