How I turned away from the digital nomad lifestyle
(Sorry, I didn't really know how to title it in a non-clickbait-y way)
It's been a while since I have blogged and a lot has changed. Last time on here, I wrote about the the choices I have made post-college to create the optimal lifestyle for me and how I thought more people might want to consider such lifestyle. As per usual, I've been learning a lot, thus been readjusting what the optimal lifestyle means to me. Some of those learnings I want to share here.
Relationships are hard, they require time
No matter what your lifestyle is, creating and maintaining relationships with friends and family, new and old, close and far is really difficult. While I thoroughly enjoyed being able to visit a bunch of my favorite people around the world in their various environments, my time in NYC, my home base, has been suffering. When you move to a new city, especially one like NYC, you can meet all kinds of cool people and do all kinds of cool stuff. However, when you are never there, it makes it really tough to make meaningful relationships with anyone. The best ingredient for good human connection is, and probably will always be, time. It didn't help that I wasn't working in an office, but remotely from home, which can make you go insane. I tried coworking spaces and coffeeshops, but it just didn't work me (presume again because of time). If you are going to go away, make sure that your home is truly a home.
Life is hard, it requires meaning
While being all over the place, I had a lot of time for introspection. I was working 20 hours or less and did so in amazing places. I got to meet cool people and have unique experiences. Yet, I didn't feel satisfied. I think a lot of people can draw significant value from travel itself, but that didn't seem to work for me. Call it millenial brainwash, but I just didn't feel fulfilled in travelling this much. I didn't feel very useful or learning something useful (apart from all the big life stuff you know). While I tried really hard to avoid becoming focused on work over the last few years, maybe that's just who I am. At least it works for me (for now). I was lucky that I've been contracting for Wellframe for a while. During that time, I've got to know the team as well as the problem they are trying to face. I totally fell for the mission of revolutionizing healthcare. That's why I have decided to move to Boston to join Wellframe fulltime.
Communication is hard, it requires skill and buy-in
A major challenge and reason to go local and fulltime was the incredible difficulty to get work done remotely. While it obviously works for a lot of other people and other problem domains, it didn't work at least with Wellframe. We have a very multi-disciplinary company, not only within the engineering team between mobile app developers, data scientists and frontent engineers, we also have to cordinate tightly with our client-services, clinical and other co-workers. While I don't doubt that creating a highly collaborative, quickly moving, multi-displiciplinary enterprise health care company can be done in a distributable fashion, it requires dedication and buy-in as a primary cornerstone of the culture. Even now it's hard enough without the distributed nature.
All of the above learnings made me adjust the way I view nomadism. Given my current priority set, I'm significantly reducing my travel time. Of the time that I'm travelling, I'm focusing even more to spend it with the people I really care about. Looking forward to what I will change next time!