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Reflections on a location independent year: my 2016 roundup & 2017 thoughts

I wanted to put together a roundup of things I’ve learnt “on the road” in 2016, and some of my goals I will achieve in 2017. Hopefully they will help you on your own journey or inspire you to take up some challenges for the new year.

I haven’t been overly nomadic in 2016, but location independence is one of those wonderful things where you can say “I like that place and I’m going to stay there for a while” which is what I have done, being mostly based in Chiang Mai.

6 things I have learnt while travelling in 2016

1) Good posture is essential

I spent most of 2014 and 2015 in pain with a dodgy shoulder (thanks osteoarthritis!) but I finally had an operation on it in April to ease the pain, followed by 4 months of physiotherapy. Until I saw my physio I never fully understood how bad my posture was, but he told me all about it, and told me all about his other clients – back pain and shoulder injuries through bad posture is his most common treatment nowadays and this guy is a 30 year veteran.

I invested in a Roost stand, along with external Mac keyboard and mouse, and instantly saw an improvement in my body. I also stopped working from coffee shops, and I now look for proper height adjustable chairs with good back support. Don’t think bad posture isn’t a big deal, its a major problem and effects all aspects of your life, so invest now or pay later. If the Roost stand is beyond your budget, also consider the NexStand which is much cheaper.

My Roost Stand
My Roost took a while to get delivered, so I used a childs seat from 7-11!

2) Meeting new people is hard but you gotta do it

I’m pretty shy and suffer from Resting Bitch Face, which basically means, I find meeting people pretty hard. But I’m not alone in that. I read lots of blogs about nomads experiencing loneliness.

Deep down, I want to meet people and have a laugh, so I try my best to put myself out of my comfort zone and just get on with it. Say hello to random people, remember to smile, ask people if they want to grab lunch, I’ve even organised a few meetups in places that didn’t have events, so I and others could all benefit.

In a chat group I was in I kept seeing people post up things like “Anyone want to grab dinner tonight?” so off the back of that I started Don’t Eat Alone – a way for nomads to meet up over a meal.

Don't Eat Alone
An MVP I threw together to get people eating and meeting

3) Community and learning from others is really important to me

One of the reasons I came back to Chiang Mai from Europe in May (while most others where going in the opposite direction) was the community in town. Being able to vibe off of people in the coworking space working on similar things, grabbing lunches with people and getting new ideas, going to meetups, fixing problems over a beer or three; its priceless to me, and I’ve never really experienced that anywhere else.

Don’t believe some of the naysayers that claim Chiang Mai is just full of “digital no-moneys“, there are some seriously talented people in Chiang Mai, doing lots of ridiculously interesting stuff, and making lots of cash in the process.

When I stayed in places without a community it really affected my output. Realising how important community is helped me make a decision about a new side project – LiveWorkFit – which will take a high level community of entrepreneurs to different spots around the world. If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…

LiveWorkFit is a coworkation for entrepreneurs in different spots around the world

4) I still feel like a fraud

A weird one this. I’ve done and achieved a lot, a ridiculous amount, but I still feel like I know nothing. Everyday in Chiang Mai I meet people making courses or building products where their history doesn’t match what they are putting out – “I made X that didn’t make me a millionaire, so I’m here to tell you how to become a millionaire, for only $999 – buy now” LOL wut.

I had to take a break from going to some of the meetups here as they just started… annoying me. Social media gurus teaching you how to do social media when they have fuck all clout. Marketing gurus “crushing it” who’ve never read a marketing book in their lives. YouTube gurus who just talk shit at a camera until it sticks. I’m all up for sharing knowledge, but for fucks sake, YouTube is free, if you are desperate for presenters just load up a Seth Godin talk or something. I digress. But this feeling is something I want to work on in 2017 and get to the bottom of why I feel like this.

Most “experts” I meet are at that first high point – beware

5) I like to listen to stuff I know

This is something that I realised I was doing in April – I was only listening to music that I knew. Back in London, I was a ferocious consumer of new music, every week piling hundreds of songs in to my playlists on Spotify to listen too and file away. But since travelling, not only have I been listening to less music (I think I need to travel with a stereo!) and I am commuting less (the classic time to listen to music) but I am only listening to stuff I know.

Maybe its a familiarity thing – while in the UK, all I want to do is escape; but while travelling, all I want is a slice of comfort. I moved my favourite songs in to iTunes, and then cancelled my Spotify subscription (after moving some of my favourite playlists to YouTube).

Yeah, maybe I should just use iTunes if I’m gonna listen to Snoop Dogg everyday

6) I’m thinking about my home a lot

My “home” will always be London I think, I’ve had some amazing times there, and recently I have been missing it. Travelling is great and is such an amazing experience, but I think the phrase “you need to travel to realise what you have at home” maybe sums it up.

I love my flat in Southbank, I walk or cycle everywhere, healthy food is abundant and actually affordable, I have an amazing gym on my doorstep, a great park to visit, I can drink great coffee, and its got that… vibe. But yes, expensive to live in, but I’m pretty frugal, and I love to cook at home… Maybe this is rose-tinted glasses, but we’ll see. You certainly realise how lucky you are in London when travelling – people moan about Tesco Local being full of bad foods, they want to try finding anything healthy in a Thai 7-11!

The Shard London
I love the view from my apartment

My goals for 2017 as a location independent entrepreneur

These goals have been generalised for publication on the blog – anything you set should follow the SMART criteria! So in 2017, I will do the following things:

1) Read one book a month

This was a good suggestion from one of my best friends, and it made me think about this great blog post I read a few months back about the time in your life and how to spend it.

even though it feels like I’ll read an endless number of books in the future, I actually have to choose only 300 of all the books out there to read and accept that I’ll sign off for eternity without knowing what goes on in all the rest.

I tend to read a lot of trash adventure books which relax me before bed, but I won’t be including these in my total. That will force me to make more time to read at times when I would otherwise be doing something else – like watching crap on YouTube!


All the books you will read before you die. Choose wisely.

2) Go to the gym 3 times a week

I don’t want to commit to every day, just 3 times per week as a minimum. I’ve had an unhealthy few years (see posture/shoulder note above) and I want to change that. I need to move more, and I find in Thailand I don’t walk enough which I love to do in the UK. I’m going to walk more, I’m going to cycle more, and I’m going to get back in to running, so I will start Couch to 5K before end of January.

3) Focus on helping people

I love helping people out and seeing them succeed, as well as giving me an opportunity to test my own knowledge. I know a lot of crap and done a lot, so if my failures or success can help someone else – I think I should pass it on. I want to make some info products on topics I know a lot about and what I am passionate about. I’ve never made an info product before, but theres plenty of people out there who make them without knowing jack shit, so I can definitely add lots of value. Through LiveWorkFit, I want to help other entrepreneurs, and through this blog, want to help anyone looking to start this lifestyle.

4) See more of the world

I’ve spent 7 months in Chiang Mai this year – which has been amazing and productive – but I don’t want to get stuck here forever. In 2017 I want to move a bit more frequently, 1-2 months per place. Move around South East Asia some more, then hopefully heading towards South America for the end of the year if I decide to jump on the Nomad Cruise.

My nomadic year which hasn’t been that nomadic

5) Work on being proud of what I and others have done

An extension of something I’ve noticed about myself in 2016 – feeling like a fraud and wanting to change my mindset. I want to be comfortable with my knowledge, and get a little bit of that “U-S-A” style confidence, which I should have, and share it with people.

I read a great article from my friend Biron about changing mindsets and it really resonated with me. You should read it. I need to change my mindset. In his article the first two steps to greatness and success are:

Step 1: Change how you view the success of others
Next time you read about someone selling their startup, or somebody making five or six figures to endorse a brand or anything else like that, stop yourself from saying something negative or playing it off as luck.

Think about the work that went into building their company or their audience. If it’s so easy why haven’t you done it? Stop yourself and really think about what went into that “overnight success.”

Step 2: Kill Jealousy!
I used to be discouraged when other people succeeded. Sounds crazy, I know. It’s a horrible mindset but it’s tough to shake. Now if someone else succeeds, they’ve literally shown me a proven path to get what I want (money and freedom). I should thank them (and often do). They showed me it was possible, and how. Jealous people don’t succeed.

I’m not sure right now if either of those things apply to me, but its food for thought, and I want to spend more time on this in 2017.

6) Keep making things that are fun

I have so many ideas of things to make and businesses to create that I genuinely have a hard time knowing what to do each week. But the latter half of 2016 has allowed me to explore some of these ideas and get a bit creative and out of the grind. Its been really exciting, and I want to continue doing that in 2017. I’ve enjoyed making things that fix problems and fix things that I want fixed. Control freak MUCH! I was seriously thinking about creating 12 startups in 12 months as a fun challenge, but maybe I’ll settle for 6… what’s the rush.

Can you relate to any of these learnings? What are your goals for 2017? Let me know in the comments…

About the Author:

Hi, I'm James, writer at Location Independent! I travel the world while working on my own businesses, do a lot of coding, and help friends and people I meet make more money. Subscribe to my newsletter to get alerted to new posts and irregular updates.