DS Freedom Unfree World Featured Image

How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World – Book Review

 

This month, I thought I’d talk about a book that I initially read several years ago, and have recently revisited once again. It is one of the most empowering books I’ve ever read, and was written by a personal ‘hero’ of mine, Harry Browne.

Free Yourself

Unfree WorldIt is titled How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, and the subtitle accurately describes the contents: “A Handbook for Personal Liberty”.

Although Harry was involved in politics, this book isn’t political in nature; it touches more on the philosophy of liberty and specific actions you can take in your own life to increase your personal liberty.

The book starts by explaining a few (of the many) ways that you aren’t free. He talks about the ‘traps’ we often fall into that keep us from being free.

Are You Trapped?

For example, one of them is titled The Previous Investment Trap. This trap is what keeps people stuck in a bad career or relationship, simply because of the amount of time they have already invested into it.

There are over a dozen ‘traps’ in all, and they cover many different areas of life, such as: morality, identity, the emotional & intellectual traps, and so on. In Part 2 of the book, he explains some of the ways you can be free of these traps; in other words, how you can escape from the traps you’re already stuck in.

You don't have to buy from anyone, work at any particular job, or participate in any given relationship. You can choose. Click To Tweet

Starting From Zero

Part of the way you become free is using a technique called Zero-based Thinking. I originally heard about this technique from Brian Tracy, and it is basically where you reevaluate your past decisions and ask:

If I had not made this decision already, would I make it now, knowing what I do about the outcome?

If you could travel back in time to the moment you were about to begin dating your current partner, start your business, or buy your house, would you do it again knowing the outcome?

Answering “no” to any questions using zero-based thinking means that you’ll need to start re-designing your life. It may be tough, but it’s far less painful than living an un-fulfilling life.

Digital Nomad Start Image

(There’s an article that explains zero-based thinking in more detail here.)

The Impact

As with some of the other books I’ve reviewed, it’s hard to understate the positive impact this book has had in my life. It easily earns a spot in the top 3 books I’ve ever read, out of more than a thousand books.

The ability to become free, both in your mind and in your personal life, is achievable by following the suggestions contained inside. I’ve been able to carve out more freedom, autonomy, and peace that I ever thought possible by putting all of this into action.

That’s it for now. If you’d like to check out this book, you can find it on Amazon HERE, and I’ll end this post with the quote from Harry that I used in the main image:

[tweetthis]A great burden was lifted from my shoulders the day I realized that no one owes me anything.[/tweetthis]

Cheers!

Patrick

Medellin Colombia

Medellin for Digital Nomads

 

After finishing up a 3 month stay in Medellin, I thought it was only fitting that I post a ‘digital nomad destination’ review for the “City of the Eternal Spring”..

To start things off, I will say that my original intent was to visit Chiang Mai, Thailand, but after tons of research, I realized Medellin better lined up with my needs, as you’ll see below.

What I was looking for

In doing my research, I made a short list of traits an ideal destination would have. Some of these things included, in no particular order:

  • easy to access
  • reliable internet
  • inexpensive (sub $1500/mo USD)
  • ability to come & go with pets
  • minimal culture shock
  • and so on..
Where to go? Somewhere easy to access, with stable internet, and all at a low cost. Click To Tweet

Why Chiang Mai wouldn’t work

While it seems that Chiang Mai is a digital nomad hotspot, there were many areas where it falls short. On the surface, it seems like an inexpensive place to live, but upon further examination, there are lots of expenses that most people tend to gloss over.

Things like the cost of a visa, visa extensions, border runs every 90 days, and the somewhat substantial flight cost (if you’re not travel hacking). Not to mention the lengthy flight if you are coming from the US.

The Search Beginsglobe

It was these initial findings that had me start looking for an alternative destination.

I actually started my new search by reading ‘best international locations to retire to’ types of posts, and then checking SkyScanner for flight length & prices.

My logic was that retirees are often working from a smaller fixed income, yet they still need access to modern infrastructure and amenities. This would likely mean that these destinations would be cheaper than living in the US, but still relatively modern.

Medellin, Colombia

Medellin SunsetAfter several dead ends, I found a location that looked promising. One of the things I noticed, was that much of the world still thinks Colombia is full of danger & chaos, while that hasn’t actually been the case in almost a decade.

You can see this reflected in the cost of living which, arguably, should be 50-70% higher than it actually is. Add in the not-so-stable currency, and you get a destination where the cost is roughly 50% lower than most American cities, but without sacrificing modern conveniences.

Also, when comparing flight costs, Chiang Mai was about $600 for a 1-way ticket, while Medellin was only $140. This, coupled with the short flight time (only 5 hours), was a huge difference, especially if I needed to return back to the US sooner than expected.

Life in Medellin

Aside from the initial confusion on our arrival (detailed in an earlier post here), we were able to settle in quickly and start to assimilate their culture.

One of the things that made the transition easy for us was the ubiquitous acceptance of Visa & Mastercard. In fact, there was only 1 shop (besides the farmers market) that I needed cash to pay. Another big plus was the ability to use Airbnb & Uber.

With Airbnb, we picked out a nice flat a month in advance that was within a few minute’s walk to the ‘Golden Mile’ in the higher end El Poblado section of the city. And after picking up a local SIM card, it was never more than a 5 minute wait until having a personal driver available from Uber.

Airbnb is a bit pricey, which is mainly due to the fact that most listings are priced in dollars instead of pesos, so you aren’t able to take advantage of currency fluctuations. For our 2nd & 3rd months, we moved to another flat, and negotiated directly with the property manager. This allowed us to stay in a place that was much bigger & nicer than our first flat, and at practically the same price.

Medellin Quick FactsWorking

Al Alma Cafe MedellinWhile there weren’t too many co-working spaces in the area, there were plenty of cafes and other places to get work done. If you’re OK working alone, you’ll have no trouble being productive.

Almost everywhere had free WiFi (usually between 5-10 Mbps) that was mostly reliable, with a couple exceptions; the entire El Poblado area was without internet for nearly 2 days, but this was due to some upgrades to the infrastructure, so this may have been a 1 time outage..

There is even a thriving ‘expat’ scene, not exactly tailored to digital nomads, but great for help with learning Spanish (and also nice when you need a break from Spanish and want to speak English with other native speakers).

Culture, Nightlife, and more..

Besides work, Medellin has a lot to offer with regard to culture; museums, parks, shopping, and more. There are plenty of options available for a night out, and a wide variety of cuisine can be found.

‘Cons’ of Medellin

With all of the upsides, there are a few drawbacks to living in Medellin. First of all, learning some Spanish is a must. Most people you meet will only know a few words of English (despite the fact that most movies in the theater are shown in English, with Spanish subtitles).

If you make an effort, though, they will do the same. I never ran into someone that wasn’t willing to try to help bridge the communication gap, when issues did arise. Having the Google Translate app on standby (and downloading the Spanish language pack in advance for offline access) will help out quite a bit.

Beyond the language barrier and a couple of WiFi outages, I didn’t experience anything negative about the area. I never felt unsafe, didn’t get sick at all, and was able to adapt to the elevation within just a few days.

Summary

I definitely Medellin Colombiaenjoyed my time in Medellin, and hope to return again. While I had been a sort of ‘digital nomad’ for a bit before visiting, leaving home to travel somewhere international made it feel ‘official’. I can definitely recommend it, especially for digital nomads living in the US.

If you do have interest in visiting, a great resource for information is the Medellin Living blog. It was my one stop shop for researching the area prior to (and during) my stay.

That’s it for this week. Next week, I’ll have a post talking about a book that inspired me to become a digital nomad, long before I had even heard the term, and maybe before that term even existed. It is one of the most empowering books I’ve ever read.

Cheers,

Patrick

DS Renaissance Soul Featured Image

The Renaissance Soul – Book Review

DS Renaissance Soul Featured Image

For this post, I have something a little bit different than usual. I think it’s fitting to talk about a book that really aligns with my philosophy & temperament. The subtitle is Life Design for People with Too Many Passions to Pick Just One, and that about sums it up.

If you’ve read more than one of my posts, you’ve probably been exposed to a variety of topics & ideas, and that’s the way I’ve intended it.

This stands in stark contrast to the ‘niche’ mentality.

Niches are Boring

Basically, it can get boring talking about the same thing every time, and variety is a great way to learn & grow. A niche can trap you, make it harder for you to redefine yourself, and can even handicap you in other areas when you put too much of your focus in one place.

The Renaissance Soul

DS Renaissance Soul ImageWhat this book does, is introduce you to the idea that it is perfectly normal to resist having only a single field of interest. Think of Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo Da Vinci, and others who excelled in a variety of fields.

The book smashes the stereotype of the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. You can indeed be a master of many trades. The concept of the ‘career for life’ has been dying for decades now, and this book is your invitation to embrace this reality.

The author lays out a great framework for the different types of ‘renaissance souls’ to be able to blend their many interests into their work, free time, studies, and social circles.

My Experience

I have both a gift and a curse. The gift is that I can quickly become 80% (or more) proficient at whatever endeavor I set myself too, be it sports, business, language learning, and so on..

The curse, is that since I can get to 80% so quickly, the idea of putting in the necessary time to get from 80% to just 85% or 90% proficient is totally unappealing. Why would I spend one week getting to 80, and then 2 years to get to 90?

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#selfhelp #hustle”]Growth is the only evidence of life.[/tweetthis]

What this means

This means that I need to be involved in a field that is either:

  • rapidly changing
  • very broad in scope
  • very competitive

If 1 or more of these criteria are met, I’ll have enough space to breathe. This is the appeal of blogging, my income & investment strategies, and the digital nomad lifestyle.

Fork in Road Choices

What about you?

I’m sure you have at least a couple different interests, probably a lot more. The Renaissance Soul is about leaving the old model of ‘you work so that you can play’ into the new model of making your work seem like play.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t waste it by spending time on things that don’t excite you, help you grow, or enrich your life.

The Sampler Platter

She talks a lot about a ‘sampler platter’, which is the main metaphor for choosing up to 4 interests and integrating them into your life. It helps to make this conscious choice

The Impact

possibilities road signThe biggest impact this book had, was in helping me to focus on a few projects instead of many of them. Using the sampler platter technique, I’ve been making good progress on 4 projects, rather than meager progress in 8-10 projects.

If you like the idea of pursuing multiple paths at the same time, then be sure to check it out this book. It will help you integrate them into your life without becoming too scattered.

Here’s a link to the Kindle version on Amazon: The Renaissance Soul

That’s it for now. Next week I’ll be giving an in-depth look at a potential digital nomad destination, which happens to be the city I’ve been living in for the post 3 months.. Medellin, Colombia.

Cheers!

Patrick

DS Essentialism Review Featured Image

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Book Review

DS Essentialism Review Featured Image

This month I’m talking about a book that has been very important on my Journey Toward Location Independence. The book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

For a long time, I was at either end of the spectrum.

First, having way too many possessions: over a dozen vehicles, 2 homes, and multiple storage units (the consequences of running multiple businesses and owning dozens of rental properties).

Then a few years later, I took a different direction with my work, and became intrigued with the idea of minimalism. After a while though, this too seemed unfulfilling.

What’s wrong with minimalism?Essentialism

For all the high points, minimalism has plenty of lows too. It puts so much of the focus on simply having fewer possessions, and often I found myself making compromises.

It seems like with minimalism, the bragging rights come with owning practically nothing – even if it makes your life more difficult.

This is where essentialism comes in.

What’s different about Essentialism?

The main catchphrase of essentialism is Less, but better; singling out the vital few from the trivial many.

It’s not so much about having fewer things as it is about being conscious of what you do have, and striving to have the best for your specific situation. It even goes way beyond possessions; it influences how you spend your time and helps prioritize your life in general.

Start with what matters.

What matters most to you? The best electronic devices, plenty of free time, choosing more healthy groceries than junk food? You can start by choosing one area of your life you want to improve.

keep it simple

Decide what’s important to you, understand that there are trade-offs, and then you can begin eliminating things that don’t fit. It’s kind of like this post I read on a concept called The Conscious Consumer.

The Impact

Where this book had the most impact with me was when I was first planning to live abroad for a while. Being limited on the amount of things we could bring with us on the trip, it became important to make sure we were bringing the right items, and that they were high quality.

I started with all of the standard travel items (packing cubes, silicone bottles, luggage scale, etc.), most of which I was able to get for FREE (more about this in an upcoming post). After that, I started whittling down what I though were the important things until I could fit them in a single checked bag.

Travel Items: Essentialist vs Minimalist

Here are a few specific examples of items I decided to bring that a minimalist would have rejected:suitcase

  • Monitor stand – I often stand while I’m working, and can use this item to convert a kitchen table, counter, etc., into a ‘standing desk’.
  • Multiple bags (messenger bag, backpack, duffel bag, sling shoulder bag) – I prefer using the right bag for the right reason. Things like being out all day vs only out for a couple hours, traveling light (water bottle, snacks, sunglasses, etc.) vs taking my laptop, camera, Kindle, thermos, umbrella, snacks, etc.
  • Shoes – Most packing lists recommend 1, maybe 2 pair, but I brought 4 pair along. I wanted to have something for casual walking, gym shoes, slide sandals for the pool, and a good pair of hiking boots.
  • Music Gear – bass guitar and recording equipment.

That last example was a hard decision to make (since I had to use up an entire checked bag for it), but I’ve seen too many musicians let ‘life’ get in the way of their hobbies & interests..

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#minimalism #hustle” remove_twitter_handles=”true”]The Essentialist beats The Minimalist every time, because they have the right tools for the job.[/tweetthis]

Beyond Possessions

Aside from simply decreasing the amount of ‘stuff’ you have, I’ve found the principle of Essentialism helpful in many other areas of my life. From time management, to the different groups I’ve been involved with, to what activities I do in my free time, it’s had quite the impact.

I encourage you to check it out, it’s definitely worth the read. You can find it HERE.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll build on this post and last week’s ‘goals’ post by showing you the exact formula I use to manage my time. (Think: 80/20 2.0)

Cheers!

Patrick

 

The Slight Edge Book Review

The Slight Edge – Book Review

The Slight Edge Book Review

Ongoing Book Review Series

This post is another edition of my Book Review Series (every 2nd Friday of the month) in which I share a book that has had a big impact in my life.

For this month’s book review, I’ve chosen to highlight a book that I read back in 2007, while it was still being spread by word of mouth. It hit the mainstream around 2011, and has grown in popularity ever since, with a new updated edition coming out last year.

The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success by Jeff OlsonSlight Edge Book Review

This book helped me to really double down on my efforts at personal growth. It is also one of the few books that I’ve revisited and read more than 1 time.

The Basic Premise

The simple idea that Jeff puts forth here is that small actions, habits, and disciplines will compound over time, and lead to big results, either positive or negative.

This principle applies to all areas of your life including: Business, Personal Development, Relationships, Religion/Spirituality, Health/Fitness, and so on..

The Opposite of a”Get Rich Quick” mentality

While many ‘get rich quick’ strategies actually work, the mindset of expecting instant results usually won’t help you in the long run.

This mentality will likely hurt you in many areas too, since you’ll be expecting to undo the negative results quickly; results that have likely been compounding from small negative choices made over the course of many years..

[tweetthis hidden_hashtags=”#productivity #hustle”]Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long term results.[/tweetthis]

The Impact

It’s hard to overstate the impact this book has had on my life. Let me share just a few examples of how I’ve implemented The Slight Edge in my life:

Health & Fitness

While I’ve never been overweight or ‘sickly’, I hadn’t made health or fitness priorities in my life. Around the time I first read this book, I began making small positive changes to both of these areas.

Over the course of nearly 3 years, these small changes eventually lead to my being in the best shape of my life (and I’m still improving). I both workout my entire body every day, and also make time to thoroughly stretch every muscle group.

I also slowly made the transition from an unhealthy diet (including lots of processed foods, meat & dairy, too many grains, and low quality produce) to a clean plant based diet filled with whole foods and (mostly) organic produce.

Personal Development

stack of booksAnother area this has positively impacted me is in my approach to personal development.

In the past, I had been a ‘binge learner’, often reading between 7-12 books simultaneously, while also listening to several audio courses each month, and then having periods of 2-3 months where I did little to learn & grow.

I realized that in the same way you can’t sleep once to recharge yourself for an entire month, or eat a massive meal to fuel you for the week, my studies needed to be a little smaller and a lot more consistent.

Now, I read for 30-60 minutes every day (fiction, current events, and the like don’t count), and try to limit myself to reding 3-5 books simultaneously.

I also carefully select my reading list in advance, and no longer hesitate to stop reading something that either doesn’t resonate with me, or that I’m not enjoying.

Business

Before applying The Slight Edge to my business, I would jump between having too many projects ongoing to pouring my entire focus into just one project.

I changed my outlook quite a bit here. I knew that over time, the results from any one project would probably be pretty insignificant, and that spreading my focus too thin over a plethora of projects would greatly reduce my forward momentum.

I shifted to a system where I plan out my year in 90 day blocks. I still focus on multiple projects, but allocate my time to reflect which projects are of a higher priority. (I’ll dedicate an entire upcoming post detailing this formula, which I’ve come to call The 65-25-10 Formula.)

The Slight Edge Explained

The Verdict

Those examples are just a few of the many changes I’ve made in my life since reading The Slight Edge, and the results over these last 8 years (and counting) have been astounding!

Obviously I wouldn’t waste your time telling you about a book that isn’t worth reading, but again, it’s hard to overstate the positive impact this simple philosophy can have on your life.

It’s definitely worth checking out. (View The Slight Edge on Amazon)

Until Next Week

Next Friday, I’ll finish up my short series on Digital Sharecropping. Until then..

Take Care,

Patrick