When you asked me, say, 10 years ago where I would be now, I could have never guessed that I would be riding on a Kawasaki Dominar through the Philippines and living a minimalistic lifestyle.
I was a happy and successful projectmanager and loved shopping and wining and dining, and life looked great.
Then the economy changed and so did the funding for my live of work and I lost my job. At the age of 52, in the Netherlands at that time, that was a disaster. Especially with all the social benefit reforms and even more when you owned a house. I was cornered. Job agencies told me I could never find another job at my age and the government social desk pressed me to start my own business for they needed financial room since so many people were losing their jobs due to the economical crisis.
It was time for some major changes and here I am, living a dream life in the Philippines.
I felt cornered. With the bank foreclosing my house I had nowhere to go
It took two years of preparation to get this far. I guess I am not the kind of person that leaps in at the deep end. I am a controlfreak and so I took my time to prepare. My son and I decided to move to South East Asia together, where life is much more affordable and less of a rush than in the first world.
How did I prepare?
- I watched hundreds of videos from others (mostly guys) who moved to the Philippines and learned a lot of wise lessons and bullshit from them
- I gradually cleared out the house and threw away lots of stuff including memories like photos and mothers day gifts from the kids
- I sold everything I owned and that was sellable to make extra money for the trip
- I went through many miles of red tape to unregister from the Netherlands and become a nomad
I knew once I got on that plane everything I knew from the past, All that was me, would be gone. More or less useless. When moving to a different country and a different culture you have no use of knowledge build up over the years professionally or politically, only general knowledge remains, and for the rest you have to be a blanc canvas.
Finally the day came to buy a plane ticket and apply for a visa
My life now is so much different from what it was. I live much more minimalistic.
Renting a house and traveling on a motorcycle cannot involve a lot of clothes or other clutter. So I own the basics and most of my luggage space is taken by technical gear like cameras, laptop and charger. Specially the chargers… they take so much space.
Was it the best move I have ever made?
That is a bit difficult to say, but over all: Yes, definitely. I started traveling the world when I was 17 and the Netherlands always felt a bit small for me. So having freed myself from a house and an attic full of stuff and tons of social obligations, I feel much more at ease and relaxed. But being a control freak moving abroad and being depending on visa rules and legalities that are vague and changing all the time, replaces some of the stress that I left behind with new challenges.
Looking outside while writing this article, seeing an emerald sea and a clear blue sky, my shell collection on the seawall makes it all worth it. That, and the freedom to work whenever I feel like working (or when the internet and electricity allows me to do so). Some days I work long hours followed by days I do nothing else but drive around, swim and roaming on beaches.
How do you know it is time to make life changes?
- Small things bother you or even upset you
- You have a strong opinion about almost everything going on in the world except your own life
- You envy others
- You find criticism upsetting yet you do criticize others
- You think negative about yourself and tend to emphasize flaws in yourself
- In your mind you keep going over events from the past
- You have a restlessness about you that you cannot explain
- You dread going to work and meet your colleagues
- You dream of being useful, yet you don’t get around on acting on it
- You compare yourself to everyone else around you.
- You feel tired every morning after waking up
- You resonate on a high stress level
- You wonder, “Is this it?”
These are just a few items. Maybe you can add some uneasy feelings from your own experiences. Some changes are easily made. But it all starts with the decision that it is time for a change. Set small goals to keep it manageable and celebrate the baby steps you take to improve your life.