The start of 2019 was instrumental to all the changes that happened to me in this year. I ended 2018 at a yoga retreat center in Puerto Princesa, Palawan and I started the year in El Nido and Port Barton in the Philippines. It wasn’t just because of the vacation, I met people who I think I needed to be able to make life-changing decisions. The people I met there were in some form of life transition, and so was I, but it took time for me to recognize and accept this change.
Achievement #1: I completed my Masters Degree
This is probably my greatest achievement in my academic life. It wasn’t the degree that I’m proud of, but overcoming all the challenges I had to go through just to complete this degree and I will only talk a portion of it here.
In 2016, I defended my thesis proposal which took me a year to work on. I was just missing the final paper for me to get my degree. However, getting a subject company was almost impossible. The company that agreed during my proposal eventually backed out due to change in management. I have searched other companies but it was difficult to obtain employee data due to data privacy rules. I have sent a request on all companies which have virtual teams as this was the subject profile I need but no one wanted an external researcher.
I have given up, life must go on. Besides, no one in my class have completed thesis. It was normal to start this degree and not finish it, or prolong finishing it because that university I went to is doing great business! Human Resources thesis is just not practical nor an effective study. However, universities still follow an outdated system and I just want my degree.
Unexpectedly, someone offered to help me get the data I need as I just mentioned in one of our conversation. And so I came back to school this year, although, I need to take one “penalty” class for being away for so long. I finally completed my final paper and passed my final defense, after numerous revisions!
Achievement #2: I quit my corporate job!
This is probably the bravest thing I have done in my life.
I have been with my last employer for almost 8 years and it was my source of stability. I was doing great at my job and everyone thinks I’ll stay in this company for as long as I can. Everyone was surprised when I tendered my resignation letter in July. Even I was surprised with myself!
Human Resources was my field of expertise. I have built this career for years and leaving would look like a failure on the outside. My boss was concerned that I was throwing away great opportunities. In reality, this work has blocked me of opportunities outside the four corners of the office.
Four months since my last day at work, I don’t miss any of my work. I have no regrets and I can say that was the best decision of my life. The only thing I miss is power dressing. I can’t bring a lot of clothes now that I’m on the road which leads me to my next achievement.
I felt happiest on my last day in the office- had to blur company logo in this photo because having it seen in social media requires management approval. I had enough of that nonsense! :)
Achievement #3: I’m now a nomad and living my dream!
I guess I can’t call myself a digital nomad especially after meeting the digital nomads in Chiang Mai. I found that they are mostly expats who chose to live in an inexpensive country in luxury with their first world salary. I am far from that. I am just a nomad at the moment. I am still experimenting on what I can do to make travel a lifestyle.
I am still in Thailand, and I have been here since SteemFest4! I have extended my visa because I love northern Thailand. I love that I now have freedom to choose where I want to be. I feel more at home now in a bungalow with no heater on winter, than in my comfortable Makati condominium. I am in Pai and temperature dropped to 5C one night, the walls were thin and even the blanket was ice cold but I’m at my happiest still.
I have taken some roles I have no experience at and I’m so lucky to be given a chance. In a conventional office work, you have to have years of experience and the right degree to get a certain job. I’m now managing social media, PR and doing testing for @travelfeed! I am learning everyday and that’s adding value to me.
I’m also doing what I love which is writing. Aside from writing here, I still maintain my personal website as additional source of income. I am not earning as much as I did when I had my corporate job but I now have freedom.
Failures… Too Many that Led to My Achievements
I had failures in between this transition but these eventually led to my goal. In a way, some failures were meant to be there.
For instance, I failed to get a promotion and relocation in my previous job. Had I gotten those, I would still be a corporate slave. While I excelled at my job, I wasn’t completely happy. I was down most times, I had to pretend I am okay when I was at work. All these were making me crazy, I was going depressed. It seems to be a failure,but not getting this promotion saved my mental and physical health.
I also think I failed to establish my nomad career before leaving my work. I left earlier than planned. I had an ideal amount of savings and an establish online job/s. I didn’t have those when I left so now I’m still searching my way. That sounded unwise for me to quit my job before achieving these. However, I don’t think I’ll ever start my nomad journey if I wait for those ideals to come. I have set those ideals several years ago and I get caught up with daily city living and I wouldn’t be able to achieve those anyway.
I do have one regret and that is not taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course while I had my stable job/ income. I am now contemplating whether to get one because a course costs hundreds of dollars and I don’t want to get that from my travel funds. I might if teaching English becomes a sustainable source of income, however, it’s not worth it with the rate I’m getting now. I have a part time job where I get 3 USD per hour for teaching students online. That’s because I’m Filipino and that’s the rate given to the Filipino group of teachers (regardless if you have a TEFL and regardless of your fluency) while the rest of the world gets at least 11 USD per hour. It’s a discriminatory job due to its nature and I don’t know if I would like this kind of job for long.
There’s enough disadvantage being a Filipino traveler with my weak passport. For instance I had to pay a lot for a visa extension in Thailand while other people can do visa runs for cheap with no problem and staying in such a job makes me feel less because of my race. Just today, I read a news that Schengen visa costs for Filipinos will increase next year and will continue to increase every 3 years if the Philippines is "non-cooperative". This brings me down sometimes because it's not easy and will be more expensive to travel with my passport.
While I’m not yet concerned of my finances, I don’t want to stay too relaxed and then eventually realize I need to go back to my previous job. That will be my greatest failure and I’m determined not to let that happen.