I want to share how I have managed to stay grounded and find routine in my days, even while traveling around without one set home base.
I have been traveling a lot the last few months. Really, it’s been going on for years, but since I entered the dome of Digital Nomad — or Location Independence — it’s been an exponentially higher frequency of moving around. While it is amazing to see so many new places and to meet so many inspiring individuals, it can take a toll on my ability to feel grounded when my surroundings change so frequently, and it sometimes feels impossible to keep up any sort of routine. This also means it can be a challenge to be super productive when I’m not on a tight timeline (read: working without pressure.)
I recognized early on in my travels that I was starting to lose a sense of grounding. I didn’t have a place that I could call home, and my sleep and workspace were changing every few days. While I had many wonderful and supportive friends and colleagues who granted me refuge in their (beautiful) homes, I was bouncing around between coffee shops, co-working spaces, and dining room tables. I’m a person who loves change and challenge, but I could feel that I was losing my sense of stability and resilience.
I started to find that it would take me about 1–2 weeks to get into a solid routine every time I moved cities. That is, finding a coffee shop or workspace that I really liked and felt inspired by, understanding my location within a new city or country, and recognizing how long of a stretch I could work at one time before needing to take a break and go for a spin class or a walk around the neighborhood.
This felt like a long transition time, especially considering I have been changing countries every month since May 2018. So I decided to get cracking on finding a new way to feel grounded, even when the space around me was in flux.
Through some reflection, research, and coaching from wonderful colleagues, I recognized that I was missing morning rituals that would help me to find routine regardless of where I am. These rituals have been crucial for me over the last 3–4 months to make sure I am inspired, productive, and feel secure wherever I am.
My morning ritual consists of:
- Meditation — I know there has been a lot of hype about the importance of mindfulness and meditation, and some of you may be skeptical about what it actually means or what it can give you. So let me just share my two cents here. Meditation gives you a break from the day-to-day grind. It is a chance to tune out the real world and focus on yourself. It is a gift you give yourself when you allow a break from your thoughts, whether your meditation is listening to ocean waves, focusing solely on your breath, or allowing someone to guide you through an experience. I find all of these options useful in different scenarios and recommend you try them out to see which resonates most for you.
- Morning Pages — Every day I sit down and I write 3 pages in my journal. The content of those pages depends on the day, my mood, and any other factors of my life of late. I may feel the need to dive deep into something that happened, or I may just want to hype myself up because, honestly, I AM GREAT! Some days I just take the time to brainstorm new ideas, or just give myself a totally random question or idea to reflect on and let the ideas flow. Whatever is written on those pages isn’t so important, but the impact of writing every day, expressing myself and my views, and unleashing my creativity sparks my imagination. It also helps me to offload some ideas that may be stuck floating in my mind, so I can concentrate more on what’s to come for the day.
- Morning Coffee (or Tea / Kombucha / What-have-you) — The morning drink ritual. I usually prefer this to be coffee or tea, though I’ve recently taken to drinking either Kombucha or Apple Cider Vinegar each morning (feel free to check out some of the health benefits of ACV for your own routine.) The point is not the actual beverage itself, but the time I take to sit with it in the morning. I carve out those 5–10 minutes of each day to just sit and be. To be present in that moment. To admire the sun or observe the wind rustling in the trees outside. This gives me the chance to pause and become present before I begin my day.
I won’t lie to you and say I effectively do this morning routine in 30 minutes or less and productivity increases 200%. The truth is, some days it feels too long. Some days I have my coffee while I journal. Some days I opt for the 5-minute meditation instead of the 20-minute one. I’m not here to preach perfection. Some days I feel super stressed and want to skip the routine and jump right into the day. And the truth is — some days I do that. But every time that I deprive myself of the opportunity to take this time for myself, I feel the effects (e.g. edginess, lack of clarity, irritation) the rest of the day.
When I grant myself the time, I clear my mind, slow down my heart rate and my breathing, and I feel centered for whatever the new day has to bring.