Jaz is a friend of mine who quit a job in London, as a 9-6 engineer, plus the commute hours in the crowded trains, to go to Australia. This was about 4 years ago. I saw on facebook that he was actually living the life, and only 3 weeks ago, I asked to interview him as well.
He told me such an inspiring, heart-rendering story.
That once in Australia, he saw 2 men demonstrating for land preservation, and by going to talk to them, he was offered a job. It was in a place where they did yoga and mindset work every morning, as a team requirement, before cracking on with their actual work!
Then he needed to go work in a winery as an engineer, as part of the requirement to get his 2nd year of visa. He was back on a 9-5, tie on, working for those empty KPIs and company goals. With the money he saved, and after a while gigging with his mates, he went to Indonesia.
He wanted to create a yoga retreat, and then his stepfather visited. He saw the plan and said the typical “you can’t think thousands, you need to think millions”. He had money to invest. And in only 18 months, the little yoga retreat startup had been totally transformed into a luxury resort. My friend couldn’t stop working, managing that resort – that had never been his plan to begin with! – he’s a musician, and as he told me, there was “zero guitar being played”, he had a network of 40 people working for him, and he was just a money man. He was so stressed, he wasn’t eating, he was getting sick. He broke down. On top of that, they weren’t being paid on time by clients. He tried to manage all of their finances, but he couldn’t paid the local workers. Local Indonesian construction workers. He had to look at them in the face and tell them he couldn’t pay them. In their country. He lost the contract because he wasn’t able to be there, due to his health. The team became more and more corrupt. He suffered of anxiety for months.
He said if it wasn’t for his dad lending him £20,000, he wouldn’t have left Indonesia alive.
Back in the UK, he went back to working as an engineer to pay his dad back.
And it came to a point where he really had to choose, between a simple lifestyle with his music, his art, or a career in industrial engineering, 9 hours a day working in front of a computer, but with a big salary.
He spent years fighting for the Freedom of Self. Of his own mind.
I loved his phrase:
We’re all trying to find how we can fit within this framework of life. We’re all trying to figure out “who’s our tribe? Who’s our community?”
He’s found balance now, plus he helps run yoga events with his partner, a yoga teacher he met whilst in Indonesia and who saved him and healed him in a way. He still has to be an engineer for 10 weeks a year to support his art, push his music, get his freedom.
Now he approaches life differently. He doesn’t care about money, he says. But that is: in a capitalist way. He feels thankful that he can rely on engineering, get a 10-week contract somewhere, to get capital, and then manage it as best as he can, to make it last, to be independent and free.
But the best part of this story is when I asked him what his relationship with money is:
“I remember being on a safety course one time, and the speaker said that there were 3 gentlemen doing the same thing. A man went to the 1st one and asked “What are you doing?” “I’m just laying bricks.” – fair enough, his job was to lay bricks. Then he went to the 2nd one and asked the same. The second man replied: “I’m using my time to support my family, and I’m making a living laying brick”. He asked the same to the 3rd man, and he answered “I’m using my time to build an amazing children’s hospital, that’s gonna support the next generation. It’s gonna help and nurture people, take them from sickness to health”. They were all doing the same thing. But the perspective was different. So I’ve been re-configuring my perspective. For everything I do, I think “I’m needed, I’m necessary.”
The thing is, his story is very inspirational, and it works for him. And he took years to figure out a model that would work for him, alone.
Even if we’re “digital nomads”, or “free”, we’re not hobo-like freeloaders crashing in sofas and living off leeching people for favors. We all need to make money. But it’s our choice if the money we make we retain, we use to buy material possessions that we use to define us (smartphones, branded clothes, a fancy car…), or we use to fund our dreams. Our freedom dreams cost money, and even if this dream is the most altruistic, as Richard Branson said, the more you have, the more you can help.