Becoming a digital nomad pt.1: the 8 most important soft skills you need to live the life

The pandemic has taught us many things, but if it’s one thing we’ve learned is that in this digital age it doesn’t have to be hard to work remotely, as long as you’re Wi-Fi is stable. It certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but many out there have come to realize they never want to go back to a traditional office space. These ‘digital nomads’ rather spent their working time from wherever they please, as they feel caged by the restriction of borders. If you share the ambition to wander the earth while being able to provide for yourself, this CareerAnalytics list with 8 of the most important soft skills you need to become a digital nomad is definitely worth the read.

As romantic as it sounds to spend your days chilling at a wide variety of beach bars while sending an occasional email in the process, being a ‘digital nomad’ is not always as rosy as it sounds. Living the digital nomad lifestyle requires a lot of dedication and certainly isn’t for everyone. Some digital nomads are actually not that location independent as they make it out to be. A lot of digital nomads who decide to just travel around the globe don’t earn enough money to be able to live wherever they want. Of course, you can get by of just $1000 nomad if you travel across countries with a low cost of living such as South East Asia, but these nomads are often restricted to that area. To become completely location independent, you need to be able to run your business from anywhere around the globe, which is also a lot more sustainable in the long run. Being location independent should always be your ultimate goal if you don’t want to encounter any unexpected surprises in the future. Let’s have a look at the most important soft skills you need to be able to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Important soft skills to become a digital nomad

Although the tasks of a digital nomad are not limited to one single job title, there are plenty of soft skills you’ll need to be able to travel the world while getting a paycheck. Keep in mind that during this adventure you’re mostly on your own, so the most important aspect is that you need to be able to work independently, which also brings us to the first skill on the list.

  1. Discipline

It may speak for itself, but you need a lot of discipline to actually get your work done – also when you’re surrounded by beautiful palm tree landscapes. You need to keep in mind that when you’re visiting some of the most beautiful places on earth, the only reason you’re there is that you finished all your tasks, and need to keep on doing that to maintain the lifestyle. You don’t want to have your next few months completely sorted out and start losing clients because you were unable to deliver. It can be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but eventually, you’ll find the right balance between work and enjoying your life to the fullest.

2. Communication

No matter what job you have, communication skills are always important. Especially when you’re on the other side of the world, communication is key. Not only because you’re mostly on the go and constantly meet new people, but you still have to deal with coworkers, bosses, or clients. You might be in different time zones, come from a different culture or just share different ideas on the ideal way of work in general. All these challenges ask for the ability to communicate, and if you lack that skill it will inevitably lead to chaos.

3. Organization

The freedom you get when living as a nomad requires you to be a pro at organizing. New environments and constant changes demand you to be structured, as you’ll need accommodations (that have a stable internet connection), transport, meetings, and budgets. If you don’t have these things under control, you’ll lose your marbles in no time. You need to manage your working life and private life and keep your priorities straight at all times. We recommend working with to-do lists and plan ahead, since being on the move means there will be a lot more extra tasks you would never have to think about from the comfort of your own home.

4. Curiosity

You would expect from digital nomads that they at least have some curious nature. Why else would they be willing to leave everything and everyone behind to explore the globe? Go and experience new adventures, and don’t just stay in your apartment to work and sleep all day, that’s not why you decided to go abroad. Aside from your private life you sometimes also need your curiosity to keep being employed. It could be that an assignment suddenly comes to an end, and you need to learn a new skill or take an online course to acquire new knowledge. Being on the road means you need to keep an open mind to whatever comes your way.  

5. Agreeableness

Agreeableness is a very essential soft skill and character trait to have as a digital nomad. The term agreeableness has everything to do with the ability to communicate with others, while at the same time being able to set boundaries whenever it’s needed. It involves negotiation skills, and also refers to protecting your own interests. If for example have an important deadline to meet, but another traveler invites you to go to this amazing party, you’ll need a strong will to say no to finish your work.

6. Flexibility

Most digital nomads could probably list a ton of examples of how nothing ever truly goes to plan on the road. As Bear Grylls would say, it often means you need to improvise, adapt, and overcome. There are so many uncontrollable situations – in contrast to your ordinary 9 to 5 – that you need to be flexible at all times. As mentioned before, it could happen that you unexpectedly lose clients or face other obstacles along the way. Being able to deal with these situations is a must if you want your adventure to become a success.

7. Persistence

Speaking of potential obstacles, be prepared to encounter a lot of situations where things don’t entirely go your way. If you work as a freelancer and you’re in desperate need of some extra assignments, you need to keep your head up at all times. Know how to sell yourself, and don’t toss the towel after the umpteenth ‘no’. If you manage to get through these situations, it’s all because you were persistent, which is a must as a nomad.

8. Proactivity

Always realize that being a digital nomad offers loads of freedom, but that freedom goes hand in hand with great responsibility. You are your own boss, can take control of your own life, but that does mean that you constantly need to be proactive. You’ll end up in countries where you don’t know anybody, and have no clue about how things work around there. It’s up to you to take control of these situations and to find solutions. You need to undertake things to meet new people, to stay employed, and to simply make the most out of your adventure. Just sitting and waiting will just drain you out, financially and mentally.

Following a new career path

Now that we’ve mentioned some of the most important soft skills to possess as a digital nomad, it’s up to you to decide whether you’re cut out for a working life that caters to your wanderlust. Please keep in mind that it isn’t exactly as easy as ticking all the right boxes. The fact you’re even considering taking the leap of trotting the globe with your laptop, also means you’re adventurous enough to find yourself somewhere along the way. As long as you know what you’re getting yourself into and prepare yourself properly, you shouldn’t be worrying too much. If you want to find out what kind of career path you can take on the go, stay tuned because next week we’ll list some of the most popular hard skills and professions so you can decide how to you want to fund your life as a digital nomad.

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