Going Solo. 1. So, you want to go solo?

Readers have asked me how I got to go solo. Hence, this new category of posts. Over twenty weeks, I will spell out, step by step, how to go solo. Posts will go up each Wednesday. While comments are not enabled on the blog, I’m always happy to answer questions. Grab me on Twitter @stulennon

On Fridays, I post about #livingthedream. Margaret and I have upped sticks from the UK and now live on the Mediterranean island, Cyprus. Mostly, it has been fantastic, although there have been so real lows too. You can catch up by clicking on the category “Living the Dream” in the main menu.

Going Solo

A key element of crafting our dream life is the ability to work for ourselves. I choose when and where I work. If I want to go to the beach, I go to the beach. I am master of my own time.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is.

Commuting

I work from home. I have a ground floor office that looks out onto my garden. It has a daybed, a couple of desks and a host of my favourite things. I work here, I read here, sometimes I nap here. In the past, I enjoyed listening to podcasts on my long walk to the office. Now, I take a swim before I come to the office, and can listen to podcasts all day, if I choose.

Working Hours

I play golf. Not everybody’s thing, I know, but I love it. Three times a week, I’m at the club. I play, drink a beer with my friends, maybe have a meal. It’s a lot of fun.

Cyprus is hot. In summer, it’s really hot. There is air conditioning in the office, but I don’t use it. When it gets unbearably hot, I go for a swim, then take a nap.

It’s tough to fit golf and naps into a traditional “employed”, working week. Certainly, everywhere that I’ve worked took a dim view of me going to sleep in the afternoons.

The Beach

Honestly, I’m not much of a beach-bum. That said, a lounger in the shade, The Mediterranean at my feet and a frozen cocktail at my side is not the worst way to spend an afternoon. I can do that and call it work. Technology enables us to work from anywhere. Sometimes, I swing by the beach to do some work, just to remind myself that I can.

The Boss

I’m accountable only to myself. There is nobody pushing me to do things that I don’t enjoy, or that add no value to my day. I decide what needs to be done, by when. It’s liberating.

Lucky me, huh?

Make your own luck.

There are no guarantees in life. Nor do many get everything that they dream. However – we can be pretty sure that doing nothing, leads to nothing.

Life is for living. I didn’t wake up one morning and find myself working for myself. A series of decisions have got me here.

I’ll lead you through those decisions, week by week.

My writing is supported by people like you.  The Going Solo series is free to all, but there are other series, limited to members only. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Living the Dream – 43. Expat

Expat

If you choose to live the dream, to move to a new country, you will become an expatriate, an expat. I have been one, on and off, for most of my life.

I left school and went to live in France and was away for seventeen years. After thirteen years back in the UK, Cyprus beckoned.

Advice

Living abroad presents challenges. Everything works differently, often in a foreign language. Seeing a Doctor becomes a major project of its own, riven with anxiety. Fellow expats, those here longer, become your guides. They tell you where to go, who speaks your language, what to expect, how much it costs, and how to best go about it. In my experience, a large percentage of the advice received is selective and flawed, but it is almost always firm and definite.

If you are not careful, the self-appointed experts can end up curating your life. “Don’t eat there, so and so got food poisoning. She was in hospital for months.” Or “George’s? Don’t buy a car there. He’s a bandit.” Before you know it, you find yourself parroting this advice to the new person you meet in the “expat-approved bar”, without ever having had any dealings with George at all. An entire world is built by these interactions; you become assimilated into a collective consciousness. Everyone shops in the same places. Eats and drinks in the same bars and restaurants, uses the same banks, medical services and contractors. Wherever you go, you meet people you know, reassuring yourself that you are in the right place.

Transience

By its nature, expat-life is transient. People come and go for work, or return home, or even decide to go be expat somewhere else. Sometimes, this can be tough, and quickly expats become inured to goodbyes. This promotes self-reliance, but can make us seem cold and uncaring. I have forged deep relationships as an expat, but I have forged many, many more temporary ones, that were close, intense even, but always temporary.

My Advice

There is a joy in being an expat. A feeling of kindred spirits, but it is artificial too. If I were to give advice…

Be curious. Make friends of every nationality, listen to their advice but test it for yourself. Be on the edge of expat circles, not in the heart of them. I know of some people whose life is so expat, that they effectively live in Britain but with better weather. Hey, I’m not judging, each to their own, but for me, one of the joys of being somewhere different is that, well, it’s different.

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.