Liz Van Dijk is an entrepreneur from Belgium traveling the world with Remote Year Darien
Why did you decide to come on Remote Year?
I came to a point in my life and career where things just all came together in a way that made me ask "why not?". TJ (my husband and business partner at Onca) and I are both in the luxurious position of being 100% remote and we are traveling together. What appealed to us the most is the prospect of being connected with a greater network of remote professionals from around the world, though doing so while exploring some awesome places around the world is obviously great side benefit.
What are you working on for the year?
Through Onca, we offer operational and web development (specialized in eCommerce, e.g. Magento) consulting services to a couple of large customers. My main focus is the senior leadership role I fulfill at Percona, an Open Source service delivery company.
How did you find yourself a remote role?
I was first confronted with Percona about 6 years ago, which is also the first time I opened my eyes to jobs like these. I'd been working as a consultant at a research group in a local University when I first connected with them at a conference. I felt like a whole new world of possibilities had just opened, and I couldn't get it out of my head. Less than a year later, I was working with them on my own terms and I've never looked back.
What would you say to others looking to bring travel into their lives?
I might go against the grain here by saying first and foremost that it is not the holy grail it seems like. I feel like it's misleading to portray "travel" as this monolithic concept that is always fulfilling and always feels sort of like vacation. It most certainly does not. There are some very definite downsides to this lifestyle, and starting off with the right expectations is key to making it sustainable for yourself. Like most big life decisions, traveling will not fix anything by itself, but it's great at shaking things up and allowing you to see things in a different light. If you maintain balance and peace within yourself, it's one of the most enriching and inspiring life styles you could imagine. If you struggle with those, it can also be the exact opposite.
Who do you hope to be by the end of Remote Year?
A calmer, quieter, more thoughtful version of myself. I definitely jumped on this opportunity to satisfy an overwhelming urge that had been pulling at me all my life, and I feel like I've scratched that itch somewhat. Furthermore, I hope to have built a reliable network of fellow professionals to provide my business with remote work opportunities for years to come.
If you had to be stuck on an island with another Remote, who would it be and why?
Let's face it, that would probably be TJ, my husband. ;)
Where have you lived/traveled to previously?
I've lived in Belgium all my life, but over the past couple of years have had the privilege to travel all over North America and Europe in the context of my job.
What book should everyone read?
Throughout this trip, I've been gradually working my way through "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It's the gift that keeps on giving and has taught me more about my own head than any inspirational self-help book ever has. It's applicable to literally everything in my life and packed full with eye-opening examples that demonstrate how we still jump to the wrong conclusions, even when we know we're being tricked. Despite its practical and scientific approach, it's helped me work at my daily mindfulness and attention to detail as much as any meditation practice.
Your favorite digital nomad hack?
That moment you realize all you really need is your laptop (sometimes just a phone, to be honest), a mobile hotspot (this is key), and maybe a pair of earbuds to be productive anywhere. Everything else is gravy and probably best gotten rid of until you can survive without. I've worked from the back of a camel in the Sahara, the bottom of a waterfall on Hawaii, a poolside palau on the Mexican Riviera, and everywhere in between. Scale back what you need to be productive and the whole world becomes your playground.
3 things you can't live without on the road?
To be perfectly practical: Credit Card, Passport, Laptop/Phone. Everything else is just stuff. We have a bit of a running joke whenever I pack up to go on a work trip; I'll ask TJ "what am I forgetting?", and he'll list those three things. If I have all of them, I'll probably be fine either way.
Where is your favorite place on the globe?
So far, the one city that has consistently filled my heart to the brim on any of the three visits/stays I've had there is Lisbon, Portugal. A few places come close, but there's a magic there that hasn't been topped by anything else.
Your favorite quote/words to live by?
"The task is to live your life in such a way that you have to want to live again – you will in any case! If striving gives you the highest feeling, then strive; if rest gives you the highest feeling, then rest; if fitting in, following, obedience give you the highest feeling, then obey. Only make sure you become aware of what gives you the highest feeling and then stop at nothing! Eternity is at stake!" -- Nietzsche