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Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach

Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach

For the past three weeks I have done my work, writing blog posts, managing social media accounts, drafting case studies, and executing email marketing campaigns, all while staying in a three-bedroom penthouse apartment overlooking the beach, kitesurfing in the afternoons when it gets windy, taking not a single vacation day from my job, and spending no more than a few hundred dollars. That’s a few hundred dollars – for the whole trip!

But this story isn’t just about the last three weeks. The fact is, my life is generally charmed beyond belief. I have a job that I enjoy at an amazing company, filled with fantastic people. I have a perfect three-year-old son, who is truly the best kid in the whole world. I live in a great house in a great neighborhood right outside DC. I travel often, I have free time for myself, and am surrounded by people I love.

But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, like many good stories about living the good life, this one starts with my getting fired.

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Step 1: Get Laid Off

Almost exactly two years ago, I was laid off from my job as Communications Director at an internationally renowned and venerated DC think tank. I mention its reputation only because that is really the only good thing I can say about it in terms of being a good place of employment. Organizational goals were disconnected from daily activities, the people were ensconced in various fiefdoms of closely guarded influence (with much of the hard work being churned out by unpaid interns), and it practiced death-by-meeting like an art form.

Several months before I was laid off, management called a general staff meeting to inform us that they were unsure whether they had the money to meet payroll that month. Consequently, if we wanted to cut back our hours or even not show up at all, we should feel free to do so, since, after all, no one knew if we would get paid.

As a result of this staff meeting I began to look for work wherever I could find it, which meant contacting an old colleague who had started a marketing consultancy. As it turns out, he had a re-branding launching that very week and would need someone to setup and manage new social media accounts. From there work grew and I found other clients, and by the time I was finally laid off from the think tank several months later, I had more than replaced my salary with consulting work.

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Step 2: Find One, Amazing Client

I loved all my clients, truly. But from the beginning, I had one client with which I gelled particularly well. I could see immediately that they had a good story to tell because they were doing innovative work in healthcare. Their leadership was actually forward-thinking, and they gave me largely free reign to beef up their social media marketing activities in support of clear overall business goals.

Step 3: Go Work For Them, If You Want

My work for them grew over time, until one day they raised the possibility of bringing me in-house. At that point they comprised roughly 50 percent of all my consulting work, and culturally it was a good fit.

My main condition was that I would continue to work on my own schedule, coming in to the office as needed for meetings, check-ins or events. For a metric-driven company more concerned with getting results than with having a lot of butts in their office chairs all day long, this wasn’t a problem. Besides, I had been getting stuff done for nearly two years as a consultant already. Thus was born my work-at-home job, with people I love, doing work that is important.

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Step 4: Learn How to Kitesurf

Why should you learn how to kitesurf? Besides the fact that being sped along the ocean on a wakeboard whilst flying a 12-meter kite and getting 10 feet of air jumping off the waves is absolute pure, unfettered joy, there is also the fact that kitesurfing is the perfect activity to do in-between work.

That is because you can generally only kitesurf one to three hours a day, after which you are totally spent. In the case of kitesurfing in Cabarete, Dominican Republic, it only gets windy for a few hours each afternoon anyway. The rest of the time there’s not much to do. That means my schedule in the Dominican Republic was nearly identical to my schedule at home. In both places I woke up and immediately started work, but instead of a mid-afternoon break to workout, I took a mid-afternoon break to kitesurf.

In the mean time, I spent my time with my laptop either out on my porch overlooking the ocean in my hammock, or at the bar restaurant on the beach next to the kitesurfing school. Both places had excellent Wi-Fi.

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Step 5: Combine Other Lifehack Strategies and Execute on Grand Plan

After what has come before, the following should be pretty standard operating procedure for Lifehack.org readers. These strategies have been written about extensively elsewhere, but it’s worth noting that there are several aspects of new media, the sharing economy, and general sociableness that combined to make this whole experience possible:

  • I rented out my place in DC for three weeks on Airbnb, meaning I got a deposit of $2,066 into my bank account just as I left for the Dominican Republic. Pretty sweet. This essentially paid for my plane ticket and for my room and kitesurf rental for three weeks at the amazing eXtreme Hotel. The only other money I’ve spent here is about $150/week on food: cheap and tasty.
  • I forwarded my cell phone to my Google Voice number, which rang straight through to my laptop any time someone called me. Likewise, I could make free calls via Google Voice back to work colleagues in the U.S. any time I needed. This allowed me to both launch a new website and coordinate troubleshooting of some complex technical challenges even while out of the country.
  • Dropbox plus WordPress plus Salesforce plus Google Docs. I can’t say enough about web-based software that is designed to enable remote collaboration. I can log in to post new blogs or add new leads or edit case studies as easily from the Dominican Republic as I can from my house or from the office.

Finally, there was one non-technology-related bonus. Shortly after getting to the hotel, I and another couple struck up a conversation with the hotel manager about the three-bedroom penthouse that overlooked the ocean on the top floor. She offered to put us up there at no extra cost, since the place wasn’t booked. Rest assured I will be writing her and the hotel a badass TripAdvisor review. This development was mostly luck, but it goes to show what being social and willing to take a risk with some people you don’t know can get you. They were great company, and the penthouse overlooking the ocean made the trip.

More by this author

The One Mind Shift To Rule Them All: Everything is a Deliverable Life, Hacked: My 3 Weeks of Kitesurfing & Working from the Beach What Mark Twain Knew About Life (and Business, Love, Work, Travel) Why Selling Out is the Path to Fulfillment

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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