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Why Moving Abroad is the Best Work Hack Ever

Why Moving Abroad is the Best Work Hack Ever
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It seems crazy, doesn’t it? You pack up and leave the bulls eye of business in America for the sole purpose of growing your company in the Latin tropics. Who does that? Why leave the glistening sidewalks of Wall Street for steamy rain forest mountain trails? It sounds like insanity, but then again, most brilliance starts out that way.

More entrepreneurs are embracing exactly this strategy. Why? Because they found a new culture was just the catalyst to create the right conditions to launch their best work and mental creativity.

Do You Want to Live Like a Millionaire?

Why do you think millionaires are so successful? Of course there are many factors, but once people reach a certain status, they stop doing more basic, time-wasting activities and pay others to fulfill this necessity.  They stop engaging in household cleaning, cooking, gardening, and driving. They leverage their brain power on their business instead of scrubbing the toilet.  Most people in America don’t think twice about the time that they spend on driving and domestic duties, but when you add up all that time, it can take up a huge portion of your life. Just imagine if you could turn that time into business equity?

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In other countries, domestic help isn’t just for the upper class; it’s common among the middle class. In the Latin tropics, no one thinks twice about hiring cooks, maids, gardeners, or drivers. This is a large part of the local economy. Think of all the extra time this would free up to work on a business venture!  In Central America, you can hire someone to cook, get your groceries, run your errands, and clean for you for about $300 per month. If you really wanted to go crazy, you could hire a driver for another $300 per month to drive you to your appointments so you could focus on work from the car.

With these mentally and physically-draining jobs eliminated from your life, imagine what you could accomplish if you could focus on your business 100% of the time! For example, if you move to Belize, you can have full-time domestic help take over all the household duties for $350 per month on average. While the cost of living in Belize can vary depending on your lifestyle choices, you can live comfortably for much less than living in the US in most cases, including the cost of full-time help. You can hire a live-in maid in Panama for about the same monthly cost as Belize, including the expenses of providing room and board. If you want to simply pay them by the day, it comes out to about $3 to $5 per hour.

You can also hire the same level of domestic help in Costa Rica for about $15 per day. Guatemala can help you stay under budget while still paying a maid to handle the cooking and cleaning for around $150 per month.

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Or, consider Nicaragua, where the cost of a maid or gardener runs about $130 per month for a six-day work week. Ecuador has a low cost of living, and is a beautiful country where you can enjoy fresh fruits and full-time domestic service for about $200 per month. So, when you move to the Latin tropics, you really can live and work like a millionaire, but on a middle-class salary.

You’re Doing What? Are You Crazy?

When I moved to my tropical paradise, I left a very stable job in a strong blue-chip company. I felt a bit guilty and terrified that I was giving up my career, as it was a very valued position. However, it was only when I left the rat race of trading my time for money that I was finally able to really invest in myself enough to launch my own business. Many of my friends thought I was crazy. While it wasn’t an especially fuzzy feeling to experience, I also found it freeing to not be bound by other people’s expectations. Once you move to another country and oceans separate the disapproving glances, you tend not to pay attention to them anymore.

When you do something as drastic as moving to a foreign country, you will rock the boat; but sometimes it’s the only way to move your ship out of the harbor. In the tropical palm-tree paradise, I could finally clear my head enough to understand what I really wanted to do with my life. All the noise of my past life just stopped, and I could finally hear the tiny inner voice of my own desires empowered enough to speak out again.

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Get Ready to Get Uncomfortable!

When you move to another country, you will be forced out of your comfort zone, and everyone knows that’s where the magic really happens. You will no longer have family, friends, or security to lull you to complacency or talk you out of that crazy cutting-edge concept. You will be forced to learn another culture, maybe another language, perhaps drive on a different side of the road, taste new foods and experiences, and will be living a life outside of your previous perspective.

It’s like if an eagle were to hatch in a pasture and grow up around sheep. He’s comfortable, but won’t know his full potential until he discovers the pasture isn’t where he belongs, but in the air. It’s only when he takes on the different median by jumping off a cliff that he can truly soar and experience a new perspective. When you leave the world of cushy job titles, expectations, deadlines, and noise, your creativity is often unlocked and your new-found business mojo can brainstorm more conceptions than you ever dreamed possible.

Clean the Crud Out of Your Filter!

We all see the world through our own experience filter created by years of normality. Imagine if everyone had different shades of sunglasses and filtered each experience through their own judgement tinting. Experiencing only a small part of the world and staying comfortable limits your perspective and can cloud your vision.

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Moving to a new country is a great way to sweep away all of the unproductive things in your life and start fresh in your expectations, habits, and interactions. It’s like you’re given a transparent window to suddenly see everything clearly enough to craft the productive life you’ve always wanted.  First, no one knows you; so there are no old ghosts reminding you of your past, no expectations of how you’re suppose to behave, and no mold you have to fit into. Second, it’s enough of a lifestyle shock to clear away bad habits.

Maybe in your old life, you wasted your time on television or video games. Use the jolt of new adventure to create an improved version of yourself. What better time to begin reading books and working on entrepreneurial ideas on the beach, instead of vegging on the couch with potato chips watching television? Or, start feeding your brain by making fresh smoothies for breakfast with the abundance of tropical fruits instead of grabbing the Krispy Kreme on the way out the door (they probably aren’t available in your new country anyway).

Instead of spending your evenings eating popcorn at a movie theater with friends, start doing barefoot runs on the beach, watch the glorious sunset over the sea, and listen to the sounds of the night awakenings to inspire you to craft your next big idea. The slower pace of the tropics often helps you focus more on your own inward brilliance.

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Third, when you leave your old country, you find yourself pulled away from previous relationships and pushed into the networking mentality. You can meet so many new and interesting people by simply being forced out of your old social circles and investing time on new connections that benefit your business. Changing your life really can be that simple, yet that profound. There is a lot of value in a blank slate, as you don’t need to worry about coloring inside any lines.

So What’s Stopping You?

There are many excuses you can craft to talk yourself out of such a drastic move. After all, it’s scary leaving the familiar to embrace such a different life. Others may even see you as dangerously drastic and just south of crazy. However, the house, car, and stuff can be sold. It’s actually not that hard to let it go, and selling all your junk can make you feel fantastically free. You really can quit that soul-sucking job you dread going to everyday and focus your time on the creation of your dream career. Moving to the Latin tropics can breathe new life into your business by giving you fresh vision, help you break free of old baggage, and create additional time in your day by paying others to help you live and work like a millionaire. It may just be the most epic work hack ever!

More by this author

Sarah Hansen

A corporate-sales professional turned entrepreneur

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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