A Quest for Freedom


By Madalena Silva, Brand & Creative Manager at Newmanity

It all started back in 1983. I was then eleven years away from becoming a living being, when Steve Roberts set off on a ‘computerized recumbent bicycle’ across America. Little did he know that he would become the first known digital nomad, or, as he described it back then, ‘someone living a technomadic lifestyle’.

Later in 1997, wifi was already a thing, and there were an estimated 20 to 30 million Internet users. I was then a dorky little three-year-old living on a small Portuguese Island, when Tsugio Makimoto and David Manners launched their book Digital Nomad, coming up with the actual definition for the very first time.

In the book, they predicted that technology, combined with human’s natural urge to travel, would change the working lives of the 21st century.

But the book didn’t reach a large audience, as most people at that time weren’t at all concerned about this distant-future-massive-social-economic-revolution.

Meanwhile in the early 2000’s, things started to pick up the pace: almost 360 million people became internet users; technological devices’ prices dropped considerably; wifi became mainstream across many countries; platforms like paypal and skype were launched; travel bloggers started receiving corporate sponsorship; Google AdSense went public; and finally... the awakening moment.

I was then a not-too-troubled 13-year-old teenager, when New York Times best-selling author Timothy Ferriss revolutionized the whole ‘digital nomad’ topic, by publishing his book The 4-Hour Workweek. In the book, the author guides his readers on how to escape the 9-5, live anywhere, and join the new rich! It quickly became a Bestseller with well over a million copies sold worldwide, and inspiring a new generation of travelers to take their careers on the road!

Since then, a major shift in modern civilization has been happening.

Technology has evolved at an exponential rate, making our world ever more interconnected and accessible. Internet speed has improved, becoming more available in more places than ever. Businesses like Airbnb and Couchsurfing showed up, making accommodation a whole lot more affordable and interesting. Air travel costs have decreased, marriages as well, and consequently homeownership too - giving people more independence and flexibility. Remote-working hubs like Bali, Chiang Mai, and more recently, Lisbon have become super trendy - attracting loads of foreign workers thanks to either high quality of life or low costs of living. And hiring online platforms, like Upwork and Freelancer, made it possible to pair a worker with an employer, making everyone’s life a whole lot easier!

Fast-forward to 2018, and the term 'digital nomad' is no longer a shock – as a matter of fact, the World Economic Forum describes it as ‘one of the biggest drivers of transformation of business models’, and predictions show that by the year 2025, 40% of workers will be either freelancing or working remotely.

As for me, I’m now a 23-year-old design graduate that has been living a not-always-that-digital nomadic lifestyle over the last couple of years.

Since September 2015, I have volunteered as an English Teacher in Cambodia for three months; backpacked around Southeast Asia for another three; worked and traveled in Australia for three; landed a design internship in Vietnam for three; and traveled around Myanmar, Laos, and Indonesia for another three. In December 2016 I finally came back home to Madeira Island for a month and spent another traveling around the UK. I then came back to Lisbon for good and started looking around for jobs; until I got a remote-internship and began working for a Scottish start-up for three months; and then applied for a Marketing & Management Traineeship at Newmanity... where I still currently work as Brand & Creative Manager. And it’s been almost nine months now!

A friend recently offered me a gift - a handmade notebook - which states the following on the very first page:

“If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree. Just be a leaf in the wind.”

Just when I was finally starting to settle down and hold a job (and a country) for more than three months (yay!)… I decided to be a leaf again. Why? Quite simply, because I want to; because I planned to; because I worked for it; because I’m ready; and honestly, because I can – I’m not a tree, remember?

So from March onwards, I’ll be living a location-independent lifestyle in India. I studied my chances, I formulated a plan, I wrote a proposal, and then I ASKED. I literally just asked my boss if she would take me on as a remote worker, and guess what? She said YES! So I booked my flight. Just like that.

So here’s my grand piece on motivation:

It is possible! To do whatever the heck you want. To travel as far as you want. To work from wherever you want. It’s possible to change your mind, to walk away, to discover new passions, and to move on. The whole world is changing, and so are we. This is the time for us, young millennials, to take our chances and start breaking down old-school conventions.

No, we don’t need to settle down. Unless we want to. No, we don’t need to work traditional jobs. Unless we want to. No, we don’t need to get married. Unless we want to. No, we don’t need to own a house. Unless we want to. And no, we don’t need to be stuck in a routine that doesn’t motivate us. Unless… no, we definitely don’t want that!

All we want is a life of freedom, a work with purpose, and an incredibly happy soul.

So here’s my final piece of advice:

Learn new things, develop your skills, do a lot of research, work hard in everything you set yourself to do, always take responsibility for your actions and decisions, take more risks rather than not, set realistic goals, plan out your dreams, be bold and just ASK!

Hint: no one will ever guess what you want or need unless you make it ridiculously clear. Stop acting like a tree and finally MAKE THINGS HAPPEN!