Since April, I’ve been living on the Big Island of Hawaii, enjoying new and exotic tropical fruits (soursop is my new favorite!), dreaming of whales off in the distance, and exploring the peaks and valleys of this incredible island.
But my time in Hawaii wasn’t all about play; Hawaii was a chance for me to up my professional game.
Over the last eight months, I’ve found a core group of entrepreneurs, start-ups, and nonprofits that I love working with every day. I’ve finally started to put money back in my savings account. And I’ve made huge progress on my student loans.
The slower pace of island living (plus ample excuses to spend time outside and away from work) offered a chance to reflect on goals, dreams, and what I want daily out of life. The five biggest takeaways?
Aloha is more than a greeting in Hawaii, and I won’t pretend that I know all of its meanings, but to me it came to symbolize a warm welcome and a feeling of gratitude.
I’ve been fortunate to work with interesting, friendly, and fair clients. Every day, I appreciate their dedication to their work and their trust in me to help move projects forward.
Since I work remotely, I prioritize responsiveness and clear communication; but I also want to share a warm feeling of respect, positivity, and warmth – my own brand of aloha.
I believe building client relationships through the spirit of aloha will help me work with the best clients out there while building a sustainable business.
The Best Things in Life are Free
The sun rising over the Pacific. Sleeping in the day after a big hike. A glimpse of a whale spout in the distance. Fresh, hand-picked fruit. A technicolor rainbow after an afternoon rainshower. The sun setting behind Maui in the distance.
It’s been said so many times that it’s easy to ignore, but Hawaii was the perfect reminder:
The best things in life really are free – but you’ll miss them if you’re not paying attention.
And, honestly, if you can’t find moments of happiness, every day, wherever you are, than you won’t find it by spending thousands of dollars on a plane ticket or a night at a private resort.
Don’t Be Afraid to Splurge a Little
Likewise, you’ll miss out on life if you’re too concerned with saving every penny and striving for absolute frugality.
Buy the plane ticket. Unwind at the private resort for a day or two. Splurge on the dress that makes you feel like the bosslady that you are.
(AirBnB and Google Flights are my go-to to save on accommodation and travel.)
Even Paradise Can Be a Struggle
Forget about the Hawaii of your dreams for just a moment.
Instead imagine a hot, humid jungle (or desert, depending on what side of the island you’re on) crawling with giant cockroaches, rats, mongooses, huge centipedes, and loud tourists.
While produce is ubiquitous, other staples like bread and milk will cost 2 to 3x more than what you may be used to. Rent and utilities are some of the highest in the nation, and petty theft and homelessness are real, apparent problems in any town.
Remote work feels a bit like Hawaii at times. It sounds like paradise at first – work whenever you want, from wherever you want! But the reality is a bit more complicated.
Taxes, time zones, and finding clients can be huge headaches (to name just a few).
In both remote work and living in Hawaii, if you come expecting only paradise, you’ll likely soon be high-tailing it back home and back to a desk job. But, if you approach both with a practical sense of reality (and a cushion for unexpected surprises), you’ll never look back.
It’s All About the Hustle
Finally, even in paradise, the hustle can’t stop. Palm trees and ocean breezes are all well and good, but these views aren’t paying off my students loans.