moveable feast

How To Be Free

Recently I met with a client in Munich and instead of talking about how to disappear, the conversation was about how to be free. We discussed the differences between liberty, independence, and autonomy –three slices of freedom. This client was different from most, she had a solid idea of what her freedom will be and she recognizes that freedom is the end game. Think of disappearing more as the bus ride out of town and freedom your city. Each strategy we discussed was measured with the idea of, will this make her free?

When I meet clients, and ask what it is they want, all say is they want to disappear. When asked to explain, they use examples like, perpetual traveler, permanent tourist, digital nomad, living off the grid, under the radar, five-flags, and expatriate. All catchy terms with exotic images but these are labels of freedom not necessarily real acts of freedom. Although, if any a digital nomad is probably the closest idea to being free. What I find that lacks in potential clients is, few talk about being free.

Labels can pigeon hole and one core philosophies will impede. There are slew of books about disappearing, being anonymous, hiding from the internet but most are tricks of the trade and not ways of life. Think about what will be your way of life, will being an expatriate in Luxembourg or Nice make you free? Is the five-flag theory real freedom or not? Will your business sustain being a digital nomad. Will the bohemian way of life make you happy? To a degree many of us want to create our own movable feast but that was another person’s life long ago. Think more about how to be free than how to disappear!

Frank M. Ahearn
Author of The Little Black Book of Skip Tracing


Down and Out in Switzerland

Recently an expat contacted me and related her story. What began as a world of financial and personal freedom turned into an ugly nightmare. Two years ago Ms. Zurich packed her bags and wired her life savings to a Swiss bank account. After landing in Zurich she found a small apartment and began a new life.

Ms. Zurich’s background was in publishing and wanted to continue her career around books. Her plan was to open a tiny bookstore specializing in female mysteries. Unable to find a location that was suitable and affordable in one, the book shop dream disappeared. A true personal failure she claimed. Instead of being aggressive and creating a new revenue stream, Ms. Zurich admitted she fell into the expat mindset that sometimes hypnotizes. That mindset can almost border complacency with a don’t worry be happy attitude.

Like many expat writers Ms. Zurich believed she had the next Moveable Feast on her fingertips. She played writer and spent the mornings writing in local cafes overlooking the large beautiful lake that streams through the city. While playing writer she lost sight of her business goals, her income and savings dwindled. The outcome, sixty-thousand words later, no interest from publishers. She admits, she fell into the romantic notion of being a failed expat writing cliché.

Ms. Zurich decided to put her publishing background to work and offer some editing. This did not create long term opportunity and her income became week-to-week and hand-to-mouth. Job opportunities were limited for reasons she did not discuss. Her only prospect seemed to be hoping and bargaining with the universe.

Her question to me, was what does one do when life fails. This is a real tough question and something people deal with being disappeared or not. Perhaps bargaining with the universe could be a good start, who knows maybe one’s perspective could change or that ah-ha moment strikes.

I believe that when all fails one needs to deal with their head and emotions first. The self needs to be kept in check and under total control. Because if you lose your head or allow emotions to dictate you will not overcome. Taking control is not easy especially in a situation where what is occurring is temporarily out of your control. Think about taking control of things you can actually govern. This could be cleaning your home, emailing people you have done business with, walking, feeding the birds, whatever! Just prove to yourself that you have a handle on a few things in your life. Even if these things appear insignificant.

The next mindset is to realize that it is not the end of the world, it only seems that way. What is occurring is only a short time in a space of life. This new chapter can become unruly, unkind, unknown, desperate and downright frightening. Then again, when hasn’t life had some of these ingredients. Fear not what is happening, it is happening.

So, what does one do when all fails? Think survival! Perhaps survival begins by asking some hard questions. Like, are you holding on to a failing job or business because of fear? Or are you abusing drugs or alcohol? Whatever. Ms. Zurich, realized it was her own actions that brought her to certain ruin and she knows it will be her own actions that will get her out of her mess.  Survival begins with truth.

My suggestion to Ms. Zurich was the second she wakes up, all of her thoughts and actions must be about food, shelter and internet. How, how, how and how! Nothing less than this thought process should exist in her day. Yes, I know this is not an exact formula of do A, B and C to rid failure from life but it is a starting point. Or maybe the starting point is realizing that, life has failed and this admission is the start to removing failure from life.

Frank M. Ahearn

Author of: The Art of Disappearing, According, to Sun Tzu’s, Art of War: Book One: Laying Plans