Moving Nomads

How freelancing transformed my morning routine – and life.

Our morning routine is where our future reality is forged.

It sets the tone, mood and energy for each day.

And these days become our entire life and legacy.

So don’t let anyone else dictate your morning routine.

Freelancing can be a wake-up call about who we really are.

If you multiplied this morning’s pre-work routine by 1,000 days, how would your reality change?

What would your health, creative output and bank account look like?

Would this reality be aligned with your dreams, ambitions and values?

Like it or not, our morning routine creates our future reality.

And yet, so many people just swallow their cereal and jump onto a train – driven by the idea that arriving at someone else’s desk by a certain time is ‘winning’. With their health, fitness, creativity and personal freedom all in second-place.

It’s ironic that getting a traditional job is widely regarded as ‘being responsible’, when they’re so often a direct barrier to personal development.

Round #1 at building a routine.

Like many kids with ADHD, I was incredibly disorganised and achieved almost nothing in my teenage years – despite having a big imagination.

I discovered martial arts at 18 and my ability to focus was transformed. For the first time, I felt a direct relationship between discomfort and benefit. (Literally, when it came to learning how to take a punch).

And this had a big impact on my approach to my guitar – which I stopped idly strumming and started to approach with intent.

I went back to school and studied music, then went to university – where I studied politics and journalism.

I wasn’t a master of productivity, but tried to carve a daily routine with fitness, meditation and guitar practice built-in

I started blogging, but felt strongly that I had to build something first. Not that this stops many lifestyle bloggers. So, I was ‘sensible’ and took a sales career to pay my bills, while I continued to train and work on my art.

Unfortunately, after six years in technology sales I realised that my performance at any job with a fixed location had minimal ability to impact my freedom or help me actualise my dreams.

My energy had shifted from the things that I loved – and I burnt out.

So, I went freelance.

And I hit the ground hard.

Going freelance cuts your safety net.

Bali is a beautiful island; but it’s also a place where harsh lessons are taught to people seeking personal growth.

I was confronted with the reality of my disorganisation and poor ability to prioritise tasks.

Traditional jobs don’t teach you many useful skills; assuming that financial independence, personal freedom and optimum health are your goals.

It’s reassuring to think that your 9-5 job might teach you self-discipline. But they’re little different to turning up to school.

In business, I cannot stress how important the phrase ‘pretend productivity’ is. And it’s the most important lesson that I took from ‘Four Hour Workweek‘.

Most people waste most of their time. Especially in big companies.

Shuffling papers, making phone-calls and organising meetings that – deep down – you KNOW are a waste of time can keep a manager off your back.

But once you’re responsible for making your own money, these behaviours are like trying to swim on dry land.

Flop flop.

I sat at my computer for hours, doing all the silly things that ‘green’ freelancers are known for:

  • Building payment systems for products I didn’t have.
  • Making my website look ‘slick’, when I had minimal content.
  • Creating workflows for business processes that no-one was paying me to do, yet.
  • Discussing new business ideas, when I already had one that I should have been focusing on.
  • Shaping my brand – instead of picking up the phone and getting clients.

I felt a warm, addictive glow from being near my computer – despite the fact that I wasn’t being productive.

And I felt anxious and on-edge whenever I was doing anything else.

I’d ‘work’ when I felt exhausted, because I felt it would get me closer to my goal – like slinging mud at a wall.

And my health, well-being, and relationship suffered as a result.

Eventually, my poor choices caught up with me.

Freelancing makes you take responsibility.

I hit rock-bottom and knew that something had to change.

I put my faith in one simple thing that I knew had helped me before, but which I’d neglected for several years.

I started to run.

And from that day, I haven’t stopped.

My brain plugged into that endorphin source and now seeks it whenever I wake – as urgently as water and clean teeth.

I shifted into a fresh, streamlined mindset.

I started to approach each day with purpose – and one or two defined, strategic goals.

Now, if I feel tired, then I stop working – because I understand that each hour into that zone takes far more away from the following day.

My relationship with sleep has improved, especially since reading ‘Why We Sleep‘ – which I’d recommend to anyone warped by the ‘hustle/grind’ nonsense.

Meditation has re-entered my life and become an important tool to gain clarity.

Phones are banned from my bedroom. Instead, I take a journal to bed and scribble ideas and plans before I sleep.

Simplicity is key. Success only requires doing or two strategic tasks to a high standard, each day.

Here’s my morning routine:

  • Wake-up around 0830 after eight or nine hours sleep – gradually shifting earlier.
  • Drink a litre of water, stretch and brush my teeth.
  • Meditate for 10-15 minutes – an investment in my ability to think and act decisively.
  • Exercise. Either sprints or a fast bodyweight workout, followed by lifting weights.
  • Shower and grooming. Self-care is reflective of well-being in all animals.
  • Breakfast and coffee. Enjoyed at my pace – taking in the view.
  • Guitar practice for 30-45 minutes. Here is where I find power and capability.
  • Now, I am ready to write world-class sales copy for my clients.

Relaxing at night is just as important.

I find writing a journal in bed helps me explore and make sense of my thoughts, before I sleep.

Are you in control of your morning routine?

Your morning routine shapes the mindset that you’ll use to tackle your day – aside from the health benefits.

So, it’s surprising to discover that some people feel a morning routine is indulgent.

If I spent three hours sitting on a train to the office each day, would this be a better use of my time?

Would you rather hire me to write your sales copy after I’ve spent several hours conditioning my mind – or after I’ve commuted in, quietly loathing my journey?

Office-workers are trained and conditioned to sacrifice their freedom, health and liberty for the benefit of big businesses – in return for a fraction of the value they generate.

And I say that with compassion; having both experienced those pressures and having broken-through to another way of living.

We need a shift towards placing employee well-being as a key metric for the success of any business.

I’d rather build a five person company that holds these values high, than hire 1,000 people and damage their health, passions and family time with unreasonable demands.

Right now, I’m just one freelancer.

But it feels great to be in control of my mornings – and therefore my future.

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