Is It Really Possible to Work from Anywhere On Earth?

Every once in awhile we need to go on a little rant here to set the record straight - this is one of those days.

Lately I’ve received a few emails and comments from people, who simply don’t get it.

Maybe I’ve been obtuse in the way I’ve presented myself and this blog, but frankly I think it should be pretty simple.

I’ve been called out a couple times in the last week for essentially being a fraud.  Advocating a lifestyle of travel, working from anywhere, and being jetset, while I’ve been sitting at home in “Nowheresville, Oregon” pretending to be something that I’m not.

I find it interesting that for all his talk of working anywhere in the world, and even spending several months living in Asia, Sean ended up right back where he started. Working an office job in Nowheresville, Oregon.

Hmmmm.

Before I go into the details of my thoughts on that comment I’d like to make one thing abundantly clear.

I don’t give a shit where you work.

If you want to work from a corn field in the middle of Kansas, awesome.

If you want to work from a hut on stilts in Bora Bora, that’s cool too.

If you simply want to work from your home, where ever that may be, that’s GREAT.

The bottom line is that I don’t care where you work – it doesn’t matter.

This blog advocates a couple things:

  • Freedom to the things you really want to do in life
  • No wait, that about sums it up.

Sure there are a lot of subsets and other goals, but the bottom line is that’s what this is all about.

I like to travel, spend time with my family, and use Portland as my home base. That’s what I choose to do.  The fact I’m not currently living in some exotic place is completely irrelevant.  The fact I now own a car? Also irrelevant.

Both of those things are furthering the goal of doing the things I want to do.  The car? I literally bought it so that I could make it easier to golf. True story.

Portland? My girlfriend, closest friends, and family are all here. Not to mention Portland is the best place in the world to be during the months of July through September.

So to call me out for not “living the lifestyle I’m advocating” well,  you need to take a closer look.

If you’re reading this and you don’t want the freedom to do the things you really want to do in life. Please leave now, this site is not for you.

You Call THIS Not Traveling?

Now that we’ve established what this site about and what you should be looking for if you’re here, let’s actually look at the whole travel thing. While no, I’m not currently living in Thailand, I’ve done more traveling already in 2012 than I did in ALL of 2011, which included me living in Bali for two months.

When I haven’t been in Nowhereseville, where have I been exactly? Let’s take a look:

That’s six months.  If that isn’t proving that I can work from anywhere, well then hot damn, I don’t know what would!

How We’re Accomplishing Freedom

Some other detractors don’t believe I’m open enough about my business.  Granted, I’ll admit I haven’t been the best about staying on topic here over the last six months, and I’m really working on refocusing it specifically to help you build a small business, but frankly I believe I’m more open than most people out there.

I tell you exactly how I make my money:

Amongst a few others, but that’s where the majority of my income is from.  I’ve even broken down my income in the past!

So yes, while I understand there are a lot of people out there who believe the idea of the “lifestyle business” is unobtainable, I’ve provided around 325 posts of proof that indeed it is possible.

I’ve helped no less than a dozen members of Location Rebel go from no business last year to quitting their job in less than 12 months. I’ve traveled all over the place. I’ve helped organize an entire conference around all of this stuff.

So if you want to tell me I’m a fraud, or not living the life I’ve been advocating, well then you can, how do I say this nicely, ummmm: leave. The rest of us have more important things to do than deal with people who have no vision for their lives.

Pausing to Look How Far We’ve Come

Coincidentally, the comment at the beginning of this post was left by someone who I know has been following my story since the very beginning.  Because you see, he left me a comment in 2009 where he was sure I was going to fail.

I wasn’t going to include this, but I think it’s worth mentioning for all of you out there who are just getting started on a new path:

Don’t Listen to the Naysayers

I received this comment less than a month after quitting my job, while I still had no clue if any of this would work.  So think back to this story next time someone tells you you can’t start your own business or do something unconventional:

…I’d never heard of Sean before, so I took a quick look around his own blog. My first impression is that Sean is very shortsighted and self-centered. The only suggestion that he is able to express any empathy at all is when he describes his last day of work. He admits he felt guilty about parting ways with his former employer – and rightfully so. They took a chance on him, fresh out of college, gave him a foot in the industry’s door and a steady paycheck, invested time and money training him, and he repaid them with more and more selfish demands. The phrase “I want” appears over and over, in every one of his posts. His list of accomplishments further reveal how “me”-focused his life is, with the stark exception of wanting to travel with his parents, and donate $1,000 to a needy cause. Where are “find true love” or “have children” or “volunteer at a food bank” or “sponsor an orphan” or “help a relative” on his list?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I can’t blame Sean. He’s young. He got his first taste of the real world, and he didn’t like it one bit. So rather than grow a little and learn to play ball, he instead is determined to find a way to do all the things we ALL want to do, but without that pesky job that ties us all down. Sean, you’re not that unique – we’re not ALL passionate about our jobs every single day. We ALL would like to travel a little and see and experience some of the magical things our planet has to offer. You’re not an inspiring visionary just because you wrote up your “bucket list” younger than most people do. It’s interesting that this post comes immediately before the “Slow and Steady Wins The Race” post. This post smacks of short-term, instant-gratification, yet it’s being held up as an inspiring, positive example to be celebrated.

The one thing I am curious about, however, is how you intend to pay for this lifestyle you plan to live. I’ve read a couple vague references about starting your own business, but I haven’t seen anything concrete or promising. Just a lot of talk about what you “want.”

Unfortunately, I believe I already know how this will end. Sean hasn’t even been unemployed for a month yet, so maybe he’s still stretching his last few dollars. I also don’t know what his debt situation is. But I’m pretty confident that if he doesn’t make another “180″ and put the tie back on, he might be able to cross 2 or 3 more things off his list before they cancel his Visa and ruin his credit rating. Sean has some painful lessons in the near future about growing up and becoming an adult. And while I’ve no doubt it will generate some interesting reading (who doesn’t enjoy a little dose of schadenfreude every now and then?), I question how much we’ll actually be able to LEARN from him.

Nevertheless, I wish him luck.

Two and a half years later, and still trying to bring us down.

With that I’m going to conclude this rant. If you’re just getting started you need to hear this:

People will do everything they can to shake your confidence and bring you down.

You do not have to let them. Find a supportive community and show them how to really live life.

Update: Had to link to this based on the comments: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3q76er/.  Thank you Mr. @jeffreytrull!

Barbara July 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm

The entire comment left me quite speechless for a while, these are horribly cruel things to say to a young person who was just starting to follow an idea he is passionate about. And what about those remarks about adding “help a relative” on the bucket list? Unless you are a complete orphan you will help a relative sooner or later in your life, do you really need to add it on a todo list of any type?? “having children” isn’t on the list either… then you must be bloody selfish! Where did that come from? The “best” part is the comment about having to feel guilty about leaving your employer. I guess anyone who ever participated in a strike should go straight to hell, following that logic a bit further. I just bumped into your website today so I know nothing about you and very little about your journey but I do know that your enthusiasm cheered me up and will give hope to others who are tired of being miserable, so just try to ignore the haters or at least don’t give them power. All the best.

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Sean July 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

Thanks for the kind words Barbara, and great to see you on the site! I hope you continue to enjoy it, keep me posted if there’s anything I can help with personally.

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Nikki July 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

Wow. Just wow. I can’t believe how ridiculously cruel and downright stupid people can be.

I’m glad you didn’t give up, Sean. You’ve been an inspiration to me – and while my own journey is very, very slow-going at the moment – every time I see one of your posts in my RSS reader, it serves as a reminder to me of what I want for myself.

Who does this guy think he is?! I’m glad you wrote this “F-you” post to him! If you’re gonna rag on somebody, at least be accurate in your insults! Where in the life rule book does it say that if you choose a “location independent lifestyle” that you are not allowed to go back home for any length of time? Oh wait, that’s right – no such book exists to begin with!

Keep rocking YOUR life, YOUR way.

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Connie Brentford July 27, 2012 at 2:35 pm

You know even the nomadic types are divisive. If you’re not moving every few months then you’re not doing it right….blah blah blah.
I’ve been traveling the world with two suitcases and making my living as a writer for five years now and I’ve had countless people say they would love to do that too but they never take the actions and advice I give them. They stay in their safe 9-5 world where the “real” work is done and just dream.
I love the “grow up a little bit and play ball” quote…uh you mean conform yourself to the life everybody tells you that you have to have? Or what? What happens if you go down a path less worn? I’ll tell you what. As someone who is 45 years old and has done both…you win. You get the life you want, that’s what. This guy just needs everybody to be as miserable as he is. He’s just one of the crabs in a bucket trying to pull you back down.
Glad you’re surviving and doing well, Sean. but as a former Vancouverite from across the river, dude, your kidding yourself about weather. It rains too much there. ; ) Take care!

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Chris July 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Listen, we all live the lives we choose to live. Some, like Sean, feel it is better to live a life full of travel and full of spontinaety (hopefully I spelled that right). Some, would rather live the 9-5 system, which is a broken model and there is research to prove it, that was invented during the industrial revolution. I choose to believe in what God, and I am not trying to get too religious here but I am a believer, has to say about all of this. You have the sabbath, you have the feasts and then you have the year of jubalee, they are all sabbaticals from work. You can’t shoot someone for wanting to live under their own terms. That is what made this land great for generations I thought, but I guess our forefathers were wrong. So why don’t I say this. For those of you who wish to live unconventionally, and I am one of you, do it and do it right, with no hesitation or reservations, getting paid for results. Those of you wanting 9-5 where your time of work out weighs your output (results) of work, then you do just that. And for the guy complaining, remember I said this to you. When we are all running our own businesses or working and getting paid for results and then going off to do what we want to do, don’t ask any of us for help on how to obtain these skills and live this life…. just go get your unemployment check!
Keep killing it Sean!

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Matt Horwitz July 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Sean, this post is EPIC! Love it man!

Fear of criticism unfortunately stops MILLIONS of people each year from change. It can be as big as starting a new business, or as small as trying a different wardrobe.

There will always be someone around the corner telling you how stupid you are, or how you’re doing it wrong.

You gotta say “Screw ‘Em!” and plow forward.

I think if you are on your path to accomplish or achieve anything, it is important to come across naysayers, so that you can learn how to deal with them, extract the life lessons and then continue on.

Looks like you’re doing a great job Sean – keep rockin’ my man !!

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Veadra July 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Wonderful post, Sean! It’s amazing how many people will jump at the chance to tell you what you can’t do. I think we all have a memory of someone beating us down unnecessarily, insisting we won’t succeed. All the more reason to work twice as hard and prove them wrong- exactly what you’ve been doing.

Thanks for sharing. I know that comment must have been devastating to read, especially when you were just starting out.

I guess people hate what they are afraid of, right?

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Joy July 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Awesome, Sean, thank you!

I tend to live an unconventional, quite fulfilling, life. I noticed this pattern that each time I stepped into something new (an experience, a tangible product, a connection) those around me sometimes offered their doubts instead of their support. My motivation is internal, but external doubt can really cut into my trust of my own creative process. I find it essential to be surrounded by people who live lives full of adventure, travel, passion far beyond my own vision, because it inspires me to keep creating and exploring and stretching through my own limits. I understand that our sites are public spaces, yet I feel they are our symbolic “homes”; I don’t want mere numbers to visit, I only want those with whom the message resonates and can add enriching/enlivening to the conversation.

Your example is inspirational in so many ways…and a poignant reminder at a perfect time that this dream is well worth it …doubts rise in myriad ways, yet when we air them, they lose “power” to distract us :)

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Robert Longley July 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Those who say it can’t be done tend to annoy those who are actually doing it. A few weeks ago a high school freshman turned the medical world on it’s head by coming up with a new way to detect cancer that is cheaper and more accurate than anything else out there. He is likely to be a billionaire by the time he is 25. It’s always people from the outside that tend to make discoveries and move us forward as a people. The wright brothers owned a bicycle shop and look what they did. There were people still saying flight was impossible 5 years after they did it. If you’ve got a thick skin, and a secret passion for proving others wrong, you can do just about anything.

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Pranav July 31, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hi Sean, I have been following your blog for more than 6 months now. And you have been an inspiration (not just to me but to many others).
As goes a saying – “there are just 2 types of people in the world – those who do it and those who don’t.” You have done it and it hardly matters if the unsuccessful few are uncomfortable with people living their lives to the fullest.

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Sean July 31, 2012 at 9:36 am

Here’s to the people actually doing it! Thanks for the comment Pranav :)

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Jessie Spielvogel August 8, 2012 at 7:55 pm

This makes the top 3 list of my favorite things you’ve ever written! I could literally feel your anger. High five.

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Rachel August 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I am not even sure how I stumbled across your blog, but I’m really glad I did. It couldn’t have come at a better time… ironically I wrote this post, “The Slow Demise of a Cubicle-Dweller” just this morning, http://turningcountry.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-slow-demise-of-cubicle-dweller.html#comment-form
Thanks for inspiring us cubicle-dwellers to take action :) It is nice to know that people feel the same way I feel….and that it’s possible to get out of the rut and live a life full of passion! good work Sean!

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Kevin August 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

A number of things caught my eye about that comment you received. Like:

“He’s young. He got his first taste of the real world, and he didn’t like it one bit”.

- so because you are young you aren’t supposed to set yourself any bigger goals. Just knuckle down and accept your miserable lot.

I rejected that sort of thinking over 20 years ago. I left my home country, emigrated, created a new career, my own business, and made a much better life for myself.

And I still have new goals I’m pursuing and always will. I will never knuckle down!

“steady paycheck”

- is that all we can aim for? Also a sure sign that this is a jobster speaking!

“The one thing I am curious about, however, is how you intend to pay for this lifestyle you plan to live”

- The classic one you always get from the jobsters. It’s jealousy, because they don’t know how to do it.

“We ALL would like to travel”.

- no you wouldn’t – and most people don’t either. They’re too scared.

I question how much we’ll actually be able to LEARN from him.

- I doubt that guy will be able to learn anything. His mind is too closed.

Or maybe he should register a new domain: StayaJobster.com!

Sad.

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Paola August 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Kevin, you have just created an opportunity for the must entrepreneurial jobsters out there; the domain is actually available! Altought it could stay available for a very, very, very long time. “Entrepreneurial jobster” might be a bit of a paradox. :)

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Kevin August 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

Hi Paola,

It’s not a niche that interests me, so I’ll let you go ahead and register it! ;-)

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Kevin August 26, 2012 at 3:47 am

One other thing Sean that occurred to me on this subject.

Yes, it IS now technically and strategically possible for many of us with online businesses or businesses that use the web for the major part of their activity to work from anywhere on Earth.

But whether or not the authorities in these different countries actually allow us to do so is quite a different matter. In many cases the official answer at least is NO.

The whole visa and immigration environment that exists out there is based on how things were in the pre-Internet age. So it’s not so easy in practice. Things would need to change here for us to truly be able to “work anywhere” without official hindrance. So far I can’t see any sign of any great sea changes in official attitudes here.

Maybe a subject for a future post?

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Tiffany August 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I just came about this website after reading an article in the latest Psychology Today called “The Siren Call of Starting Over,” and I’m glad that I took a minute to stop in and pick this post as my first read. I own a one-year-old start up, also after quitting my nice paying office job without a client to my name or a specific business plan on how I’m actually going to survive on my own. All I possessed was a rainy day fund, an urge to build something meaningful out of my life, and (somewhat of) a blind and insane ambition. While I have met numerous supportive 9-5ers and of course, friends, I was surprised to receive criticism from naysayers, including others business owners. While I am open to constructive criticism, I don’t understand how anyone can knock an idea that they never even attempted themselves or put down someone whose shoes they have walked in previously? Why do some people only see the failure in any idea? Is it just a reflection of their own perceived imminent letdown if they were to pursue their dreams and deviate from the norm, which stops them from handing in that resignation notice for a job that makes them cringe every morning when they wake? Or perhaps, it’s the failure that they currently live in because they ended up creating a job for themselves and has successfully chained themselves to their desk in their home office instead of working on their company and building lifestyle business?
In any case, it’s good to see sites like yours, Sean, that uplifts and encourages the entrepreneurial spirit. Cheers to you! It sure does feels good to be part of the unconventional crowd.

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Sean August 28, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Thanks for the comment Tiffany, glad you decided to drop by!

In this case I have a feeling it’s simply a case of jealousy. I’ve done what they were unable to do in their own life and they aren’t happy about it, so they take it out on anyone but themselves :)

And yes, it does feel pretty nice being unconventional.

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Pohi January 5, 2013 at 10:52 am

There will always be haters out there. Someone could cure all the diseases, feed all the people, make peace all over Earth and there would still be people hating on him for some reason…

Glad to see you made it and proved to yourself that when a human is determined to do something, he/she can achieve a lot.

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