So one of the people who really inspires me and the trip I’m on, unsurprisingly, is Matt Kepnes, known in larger context as Nomadic Matt. I got to meet Matt very briefly at World Domination Summit, and he’s quite a pleasant guy, a bit soft-spoken but more than willing to answer a rather specific question about travel insurance despite being in the middle of a gigantic party and having only been introduced to me 30 seconds prior.
One of Matt’s most inspiring posts for me was one he wrote back in 2009, the one called Everyone Says I’m Running Away. In this post, Matt talks about how he is in fact running away from a traditional. conventional life, and toward the kind of life he wants for himself–a life on his terms. I didn’t see that post till over four years after he wrote it, but it spoke to me very clearly, and it’s one of the reasons I’m doing this trip and this location-independent life.
Today I’m going to offer my own perspective on running away, not in relation to travel (Matt did that handily already), but in relation to starting a location-independent solopreneurial business and lifestyle.
In the months before I started seriously considering the trip I’m currently on, especially while I still had my full-time job, I did a lot of research on the kinds of entrepreneurs I wanted to emulate and be like–Nomadic Matt, Sean Ogle, Mike Hrostoski, Jenny Blake, James Clear, Chris Guillebeau, Laura Simms, and many others. I also read books like The $100 Startup and The 4-Hour Workweek, which contained many examples of everyday people who transitioned from 9-5 jobs to financial independence in various ways.
I noticed something about the majority of these people: when they started their journeys to location independence, they were in one of two places. Either (1) their current situation was intolerable, and they wanted to get out of it, or (2) they had some earth-shattering idea that they just couldn’t wait to make reality. In other words, they were either running from something, or running toward something. In fact, pretty much everyone I read about fell into one of those two categories. And a lot of people did some pretty amazing things in the interest of running away from their untenable situations or running toward their fantastic ideas.
That being said, I believe the focus on those two categories creates a false dichotomy.
(What the hell is a false dichotomy? It’s when a scenario is set up to make two choices appear to be THE ONLY TWO CHOICES available. A common example of a false dichotomy is “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” It’s patently false, as you might also be an innocent bystander or in some other way unrelated, but it also convincingly paints the picture that if you’re not one, you must be the other.)
“Either you’re running away from something, or you’re running toward something” is a false dichotomy. For one thing, you may be doing both at once. For another, you may be doing neither; it’s possible to pursue location independence without trying either to escape a bad situation or bring a great idea into reality. There are options three and four right there.
But what really intrigues and draws me is the fifth option. The fifth option is simply this: you’re not running at all. Even if your current activity involves movement or travel, you aren’t running. Not running from or to anything, not running in place, not even running your engine in idle (to stretch the metaphor to its breaking point). And while I have definitely related to running away and running towards at various points during my early exploration of location independence, not running at all is the option I choose.
Because when you aren’t running, you are okay with where you are, even if it isn’t where you ultimately want to be.
When you aren’t running, you’re content to move at the pace that feels right to you, or even remain still.
When you aren’t running, you’re at peace with yourself and with the world.
When you aren’t running, you’re okay not knowing everything yet.
When you aren’t running, it doesn’t matter when you started, because you’re not chasing anyone who started first.
When you aren’t running, it doesn’t matter when you get there, because “there” is where you decide it is.
When you aren’t running, you probably won’t burn out or collapse from exhaustion as easily.
And when you aren’t running, you have time and energy to appreciate the journey you’re on.
Now THAT’s the kind of trip I want to be on.
So in the words of John Mellencamp ca. 1999: I’m on my way, but I’m not running anymore. Who’s singing it with me?