As expected, Thailand has been great so far. Each day holds a whirlwind of new places to explore, new people to meet, and new coffee to taste.

I’ve been in search of the best coffee in Chiang Mai, and while I don’t think I’ve found it yet, a place called Mountain Coffee is darn close. They grow their own coffee beans on a private mountain and use those in their roast. Now that’s pretty darn cool right?

We have been here just about a week now, and so far it’s been no less than awesome. I feel more comfortable and more at home than I have in any city in the US. Not to say it’s any safer over here, but it sure feels that way. Maybe we are just naive? Chiang Mai comes in at #50 on this list of the world’s safest cities so that’s something right? (That’s for you Mom).

Overall we love it, but the toughest thing might be that we are loving it too much…

I’ve worked hard over the past few years to cultivate a hard core level of discipline to get work done. I’ve worked for myself during this period, and I’ve had to be intentional with my time every day. It’s difficult to be motivated to work regardless of how much you love it when there are fun things to do and enjoyable people to hang out with.

This balance is tough and I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve come up with a few tricks I’ve been able to implement along the way. If you ever find yourself in the fortunate situation to work from home, start your own business, or work online, you will need to check your discipline ability. Motivation doesn’t last forever, and sometimes it takes all the mental willpower you can muster to get something done.

Throughout this post I’ll share these tips, but also recount our time in Thailand thus far. Again, it’s a gorgeous place and I will never forget our time here!

Week One In Thailand

First off, if you are just finding this post and want to hear about our crazy long trip over to Thailand go here for the first post in the series.

Waking up the first day took time. My eyes were drooping and my back stiff from 41+ hours of straight level. I’m just a man who needs his sleep! I can power through and did well for most of the trip, but it soon caught up with me.

Miranda discovered that for every timezone you cross, you need half a day of recovery before your system resets to normal. We crossed 12 time zones, so right about now we should be recovered. I was pretty much good the next day, but it may have been because I got ten hours of solid sleep that first night.

Work vs. Play Tip #1: Work Whenever There isn’t Much Else to do: This one is easy to say, and tough to implement. It’s useful to take advantage of times when you there isn’t much going on. Whether it’s pouring down rain or you are stuck in a airport for 12 hours, find a way to get stuff done. This will allow you that much more freedom to play on the nice days and have fun when you get to your final destination. Do the work you need to do first, and schedule time for the non essential (but still super important) tasks that will move the needle forward on your broader goals.

We jumped right in and explored nearby. We didn’t go too far before we saw a nice looking coffee shop and plopped ourselves down to eat. As of this writing, this was the most we’ve paid for a meal, but we knew we would get into it and figure things out. It was more important to get outside and get a feel for the people and the lay of the land.

We sat outside and could people watch while brainstorming our next steps. Because of our digital nomad type of lifestyle we had to jump into some work right away and get caught up with the emails and tasks we got behind on from limited wifi access on the journey over here.

We wouldn’t trade it for a second though, because our offices are now Thai coffee shops and decorated cafes. We have been having some amazing food, sipping handcrafted coffees, and whittling the time away on our keyboards.

Work vs. Play Tip #2: Just Start: Simple, yet effective in practice. When you are lacking motivation and you’d much rather just go outside, sit down and get to work instead. For me, this works like a charm. I can still trick myself into thinking I’ll only work for a bit, but every time I open my laptop it terms into a two to three hour sesh.

For fun we’ve eaten somewhere different every day, visited the Chiang Mai Zoo, watched a movie and explored the Maya Mall (Massive seven level mall near the city), been to the Sunday Market, watched the Pat’s game at 6:30AM, walked all around Old Town, and climbed this random tire wall a few times.

There is so much to see and to do that it’s overwhelming sometimes, but it makes me glad once again that we planned to be here for a few months. It has given us the time we need to settle in and get used to the are enough so we can explore it.

My favorite part so far has been just being in a new place. Even the mall was a different experience. Every store was unique and Miranda and I wanted to keep looking around and seeing what we could see.

The top floor of the mall opened into a rooftop balcony/bar area where you could see most of the city in all directions. We plan to go back at night, have a few drinks, and take more pictures so stay tuned!

Work vs. Play Tip #3: Be Intentional: Set aside time every day for the most important tasks for your business. This will allow you to be guilt free to do something fun in the evening after a long day of work. It’s hard to find consistent motivation in work even if you love what you do. For most of us, we will hit a wall and need a break.

What I’ve been learning to do is to wake up everyday with at least one idea in mind of a task I want to get done. Often it’s more than one task, but the one I get done is the most important for that day to move me forward in my goals. It’s so hard to not get caught up in the busyness of tasks that demand attention, and being intentional about our daily tasks is how we move forward effectively.

My favorite part of the trip so far? Spending every moment with Miranda. She is the love of my life, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her light up over the past few weeks. I guess I just like seeing her happy. 🙂 But besides just exploring and having fun, I am seeing her come into herself with her new entrepreneurial ventures. I couldn’t be more proud!

She is pushing me as well to get better every day and keep trying new things. We both aren’t the adventurous types (we are way more apt to be found sitting on a couch eating pizza and watching The Office, don’t judge!), but we know this and it’s why we made this trip a priority. We don’t want to stay the same. We want to grow. Growth comes when you push yourself and make new opportunities happen.

Growth isn’t dependent on circumstances, it happens when we do something a little bit different. We love just chilling and sitting back and we need those times, but this trip has been pushing us to leave this trait behind (even if just for a little bit).

Work vs. Play Tip #4: Get a Flexible Job: For me, as soon as I got into the world of online freelancing and passive income I was hooked. It’s been said entrepreneurs are the only people that will work 80 hours to avoid working 40. This couldn’t be more true. I find a lot of value in making my own schedule and determining my own working hours and keeping myself accountable.

Regardless, the more flexible your working situation, the more you will have time for other pursuits OR just to enhance your skills related to the job you already have. The more we can make ourselves invaluable assets the more leeway we have to strike the work life balance we want.

I’m never going back to a less flexible job if I can help it, and it’s because of the flexibility I have. I can take a day and work on my book, or take the day to freelance and work for clients. The key is that you get to decide, not your boss. This let’s me choose how much time to work and how much time to play. Sometimes this can add pressure and feelings of guilt, but that is much easier to handle than being told when to come to work.

The growth we’ve found so far has been pretty cool. It’s been all about the journey. Miranda and I feel like little kids walking around and looking at all the sights.

This means:

  • I’ve hit my head 12 times (they didn’t make Thailand for tall people).
  • We’ve tripped a combined 13 times (no twisted ankles yet though!)
  • We’ve been to 8 different coffee shops.
  • Have had a total of 35 meals so far, which if you are counting that is more than 5 meals per day… We love to eat!
  • Miranda has had ice cream 7 times, which again, means she hasn’t yet failed to find dessert in a country that isn’t known for their desserts!

So far, the trip has been worth it’s weight in gold as far as how much we’ve been stretched. For us, even just walking around a city is like “ahhh get me out of here!” But midnight trips to 7/11 have worked out all right so far.

Work vs. Play Tip #5: Love What You do: “If you love the work you do, you won’t work a day in your life.” John Maxwell quotes that phrase quite a bit and I love it. If you find something you are truly passionate about, it no longer feels like work, it becomes a calling. With my writing I am getting closer, but I still have a long way to go.

I think we all have the ability to find work that we are passionate about. It won’t happen right away, but it’s worth it when you find it. When I write and get in the flow, the world flies by around me and I don’t even think about anything else. I think that there is something out there uniquely designed for you and your passions and abilities. Maybe you already have it? Just a thought.

That just about sums up our first week in the land of Thai. We love it, and despite whatever new experiences (good or bad) come our way, we are down for the adventure.