Editor’s Note: This is part two in the series “Everything I Learned in One Month as a Digital Nomad”. To learn more about Elizabeth, check out Part One and Part Two.
Lesson 3: Live in the Present
From experiencing the Yucatan ruins, to the fireworks on Mexico Day, or the natural wonders found only in this one place, I can’t tell you how much more I’ve learned to appreciate where I am in the present moment and how humble I feel when I reflect upon it. Mexico is such an underrated and under-appreciated country – laughable that many Americans dismiss it as inferior – yet have never traveled here.
The Mexico I’ve experienced is a beautiful country, filled with wonderful people, traditions and sights. The slower pace of things here helped me to realize that as an American, I rush too quickly to get things done without prioritizing my own values. Consider the bucket analogy –– Fit the rocks in the bucket first, then the pebbles and the sand and water will fit on top –– When we focus on our priorities first, such as being in the present and our own happiness, the rest will follow.
Don’t Put a Price Tag on an Experience
Technically speaking, everything in life has a cost associated with it. Travel is different than other things of value because it is not a commodity or a physical product and it does cost money, but the return on investment cannot be measured with numbers. As I ended my month in Playa del Carmen, I stopped worrying so much about how much things will cost, not only because I had a budget but because I was finally enjoying myself.
When I look back upon my life, I am not going to remember the number on the receipts. What I will remember is how I felt and the positive experiences that I had. This trip has been very important for me in terms of letting go of my past troubles at home and just finally being in the present. Carpe Diem could be my new motto.
Enjoy What Each Destination Has to Offer
When I first planned my travels to Mexico, I thought that I would enjoy the ruins more than anything else. Upon seeing the ruins in Tulum and Chichen Itza, I did not have that breathtaking experience that I was anticipating. Instead, I discovered something else that left me in awe – Cenotes. Mexico is one of the few places on earth where cenotes exist, and words cannot describe the joy and wonder I felt while I was floating on my back and looked up at a jagged cave ceiling. During my first trip to Mexico, I only visited Cenote Zaci, a seriously beautiful and underrated cenote in Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico, but it definitely impacted my psyche in a powerful way.
Yucatan Mexico has over 6000 cenotes, more than any other location in the world, and I was completely unaware of their existence until my trip to Mexico. It just goes to show that no matter how much I read about a destination or how much information on a topic exists on the internet, I will never know something until I’ve experienced it in real life. I meditate every single day (or at least I try to), but nothing can compare to the serene atmosphere of a cenote, and the feeling of sitting on a flat rock while looking out at the calm, blue water while thinking deeply. The photo that I took simply does this wonder of nature no justice.
As I dipped into the water for the first time, I was surprised because the water was cool – Not hot or cold – And it was completely peaceful and silent in the morning.
The ecosystem is completely clean and almost entirely untouched, minus the balconies to jumping around the water edges, and the possibly imported small black fish that graced my presence. I could have swam for hours, but I needed to return to Playa del Carmen, and this gave me yet another fantastic reason to visit Mexico again, because I would love to visit a cenote every morning just to meditate.
Live Your Life Month to Month
I know what you must be thinking, that I should be thinking more about my future, but it is important to also live in the present moment before it slips away. It can be said that the past is behind us, and the future can only be planned so far, so we only truly know what is absolute in the present. Yes, it is necessary to plan for the future, because we will all most likely still be alive, and to plan for things such as investing, continuously learning and re-learning, reading and all of those things that enrich our lives. At the same time, it is important, especially during the experience of long-term slow travel, to not let the thoughts and worries of the future consume us in the present time.
I advise new digital nomads to take things very slowly and don’t try to do too much at once, as tempting as it may seem. A single month was not enough time for me to discover all of the Riviera Maya, let alone entire country of Mexico. After this first trip abroad, I headed back to Central Florida. My next trip will be to Bali in addition to a few other countries in Southeast Asia. While back home in Florida, I’ve begun the process of applying for a 90-day visa, and to wrap up any loose ends that I still have at home before moving abroad to slow travel full-time.
The next time you find yourself thinking that your goals aren’t happening fast enough, remember that our dreams do not have an expiration date. If it is taking longer than expected to launch your online business or to gain your first customers, time is on your side. The best thing that can come from the experience of being a digital nomad is learning how to persist and to thrive in ways that we would never learn in an office cubicle. I think about the patience that I am developing and the gratitude that I have now that I didn’t have before, and I can’t regret the feeling of accomplishment I have.
I honestly think that because travel puts us out of comfort zones and under pressure, that our worst flaws are only magnified and must be addressed – Travel can be fun, but long-term travel forces us to deal with any underlying issues that may plague us, and it makes me reach the conclusion that as digital nomads and human beings, we must focus on more the journey and less on the physical destination to gain the most from our experiences.
Book that one-way plane ticket and be unafraid to do your dares. Literally no one is stopping you but yourself. I hope to write more blog posts in the near future to chronicle this amazing new journey that I have started, and to share some more specific advice and tips as they relate to what I am doing and learning. Now I want to know what you are doing to put your digital nomad journey into action– Have you just booked your one-way ticket or experiencing a new culture for the first time? Let me know in the comments section, and I can’t wait to hear more about your adventures!
The post Live in the Present: One Month as a Digital Nomad – Part Three was first published on Coworkaholic.