But first, this article was spawned by a most interesting conversation I had with John Falchetto, popular expat coach and blogger. (Note: An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing or legal residence.) After reading his excellent article on ‘Expat Career Myths’, my mind was opened up to something that has been really bugging me over the past couple of years. Upon reflection of my thoughts, here is the comment I left on John’s blog:
I think there is a clear movement out there, especially with the youth, that the expat lifestyle is the most romantic choice a person can make with their life in order to achieve fulfillment. Don’t get me wrong, I think living the Expat life (or living abroad, or going walk-about, or country hopping) can be an incredible one, but this idea that you can throw an extra pair of underwear in a bag and just go is kinda crazy…..
After reading my thoughts, John responded with this excellent reply:
There is a clear movement in blogging that really brushes me the wrong side.
It calls to sell all your stuff and go minimalist, pack your laptop and head off into the sunset. Give me a break.
I think any life can be incredible. Expat or not. What really annoys me about this movement is how condescending it is towards the guy or gal who wants to stay stateside and work a 9-5 because they have student loans to pay-back, or a sick relative to look after. I will not even go into the case of people who have a partner and/or kids, do you get rid of them also and go minimalist?
We need to check our myths and stereotypes at the door sometimes.
Well said John, well said.
You see, I personally love Tim Ferriss’ book. I’ve read it 3 or 4 times and very much enjoy the principles of success found therein. But I’m also cognoscente of the fact that what works for Tim(as he’d agree) sure as heck doesn’t work for everyone else, and is by no means a ‘superior’ form of lifestyle.
Every day I look around the net, there is another blogger discussing life-changing methods for quitting your job and moving to your back-pack (funny thing is most haven’t even achieved this). Many even think they’ll only need to work 4 hours a week and soon they’ll magically find success by hiking the hillside. Again, I see nothing wrong with wanting such a lifestyle, but my personal take is as follows:
1. Work is Fun: Why in the heck would you only want to work 4 hours a week anyway? Personally, I love to be challenged. I love making a difference. And although relaxation and adventure are great, I want to create. That’s why I blog. That’s why I speak. That’s why I build relationships. And that’s why I have a family. Ultimately, I want to create a life full of great works, great relationships, and great memories.
2. There ain’t nothing wrong with 9-5: Why do we now have this idea that people who work an old-fashioned 9-5 job are somehow inferior? I find such a mentality idiotic. Personally, I would not choose the 9-5 lifestyle but if that’s what you do and it makes you happy, then what the heck is wrong with that?
3. Happiness is not extrinsic: That’s right, just because you quit your job and go walk-about doesn’t mean you’ll be any happier. In fact, there are thousands that have tried the lifestyle and failed miserably. I don’t fault anyone for experimentation, but many have forgotten the true source of happiness and fulfillment in the first place. Just take the words of famous concentration camp survivor and writer Victor Frankl:
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Powerful words….and incredibly true. Choosing a career and lifestyle is important folks, no doubt. But let’s not assume our way is better. Let’s not continue to look outward for fulfillment. Let’s just live, work, create, and smile the whole way. If we do this, we’ll assuredly find what we’re looking for.
OK, this is one of those subject where everyone should have an opinion, and I’m dying to hear what you’ve got to say. Am I dead wrong and a dufus or does anyone else notice this trend I’m speaking of? As always, comments are rewarded with mad karma and big smiles coming your way from my little basement in Virginia.