How to create your desired reality using the reticular activating system
When I first heard about it, I was fascinated: Finally a tool proven by science that could explain that IT IS POSSIBLE to use your thoughts and focus to dictate your reality and that we are not fully victims of circumstances but can have a bigger influence than we would expect…
What is the reticular activating system?
“The reticular activating system (RAS) is a network of neurons located in the brain stem that project anteriorly to the hypothalamus to mediate behavior, as well as both posteriorly to the thalamus and directly to the cortex for activation of awake, desynchronized cortical EEG patterns.” Textbook of Clinical Neurology (Third Edition), 2007
To translate this scientific definition, it is a system in your brain which is connected to all of your senses (except smell) and acts like the gatekeeper of information it lets into your conscious mind. It filters out the information it perceives as important and ignores the rest to avoid overwhelm.
How can we use this to manifest our desires?
When you consciously focus on something, which is directing your thoughts on your desired object, for example launching a passion project, going on a world trip, being with your ideal partner, buying your dream car, …anything… it creates thought patterns in your brain you would not have if you did not focus on your object. The RAS recognizes what is important and validates our beliefs and delivers the information we are looking for. You have probably experienced it when someone says “Close your eyes, now think about the color red,” then you open your eyes and you immediately see something around you which is red. Or you want to buy a car and do your research on which one you want. Suddenly you see this car everywhere on the streets. This is the simplest example of how the RAS works.
If you believe, you are not going to succeed, your brain will find evidence for you. If you believe you are not pretty or good enough, the RAS will do its part to find the proof you are seeking (even if there are other indicators but it is looking for the information you identify yourself with and will filter out the rest!)
That is why it is so important to practice daily visualization and intention setting. This is why it is important to get clear on what you want and write down your big vision. This is why belief work is so important! This is why the most successful people in the world have a morning routine, meditate, do mindset work, set intentions and goals and are selective of which kind of media they consume or what type of people they surround themselves with.
“What you focus on, expands!”
The good news is, that now that you know how this works you can use it to your advantage! You can basically reprogram yourself so that your focus is on how and who you want to be, how you want to feel, how you want to behave, what you want to experience, what you want to believe about yourself. It is all about getting conscious about it and placing focus on it. Repeatedly. The brain needs repetition! Make sure to involve your body and senses when you visualize your desired reality.
How to get started
- Write out your ideal day, as detailed as possible. Without restrictions, limitless, dream big. Where do you wake up? Who do you wake up next to? What are you having for breakfast? What are you doing first thing in the morning? What do you spend your time on? etc. etc. etc.
2. Write down the big vision of your FUTURE YOU! How does he/she feel? What is he/she doing? What impact does he/she make? Where does he/she live? How much money does he/she make? What is he/she spending this money on, why do you need this amount? With whom does he/she spend his/her time with? How does he/she look like? What vibe does he/she send out? What kind of clothes does he/she wear? What is he/she known for? ….
3. Read this BIG VISION every day and visualize it! Feel it!
4. Rewrite it once in a while (e.g.once a month) because our desires change!
5. Do belief work! If you notice, that you have a limiting belief such as “I am not good enough for this project” find evidence for the opposite (in this case “I am good enough for this project”) and write it down. A coach is someone who can help you identify limiting beliefs and reframe them!
I hope you found this article insightful and can put some things into practice.
I am always happy to hear your takeaways and experiences.
The downsides of being a digital nomad/location independent
Yes, traveling and working remotely is amazing and this article is not going to be a rant about one first world problem of location independent workers. I would not want my life any other way than I have chosen and I am incredibly grateful for my journey: Changing locations mostly when I want and not just for 6 weeks a year, split into 2x2 weeks summer holiday in Europe and 1 week for skiing…
Yet, I think it is important to talk about the downsides of this lifestyle because sometimes those Instagram photos on the beach and partying make it look like there never is a bad day. While it is true, you are in beautiful locations and can have a really good time, it can also get complicated or sad at times.
1. Matters of the heart
While it is possible to always meet my traveler or digital nomad friends, again and again, there are often moments after a few months when it is time to separate because each one has different plans for the next weeks. It is extra hard when you shared an apartment and of course great travel experiences. The connections are usually super intense because when you travel you live much more in the moment and have the feeling that anything is possible and sometimes you do not even know when or if you are seeing each other again. Again, I would not trade it for anything because it also makes you appreciate each other more.
This is a big issue amongst almost all digital nomads I talked to. There are several points to consider:
1. When they have a partner at home who does not like traveling, it is either super hard for them because they miss them or they simply cheat, which of course is an issue. Also, they feel obliged to go back from time to time while part of them wants to just keep on traveling.
2. A lot of digital nomads are so used to having freedom and choosing whatever they want to do, whenever they want to work, wherever they want to go and are often very spontaneous too, hence they have a hard time committing: Committing to one place, committing to a plan which takes place in 3 months, and –SURPRISE– committing to a relationship.
If they find someone they like, it is hard for them to make compromises because they are not used to it. And of course, there are exceptions to the norm and I also know many, many location independent people who are in very fulfilling relationships. In my opinion, it works best when both have similar priorities (e.g. priority is work and relationship)and a similar lifestyle.
Not feeling at home anymore in your hometown/-country
This one is big for me. Ever since I was on my first 1-year trip it felt very strange to come back. While it can work to get used to it over time, it will never be the same. Again, nothing wrong with it, everyone is lucky to have the chance of choosing a new home and home is where your heart is anyway 🙂
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ― Miriam Adeney
Losing common interests with old friends
Probably the one which hurt me the most especially when I was starting out almost 10 years ago and then coming back from a 1-year life-changing trip to Australia. Of course, I was very young then and had spent my entire teenage years with those friends hence it was extra confusing and painful. My interests and life vision changed, and it was hard for me to find many common denominators. It felt so weird because I still dearly loved them but it felt like they did not fully get me anymore and I could not relate to them anymore in the same way than before my trip. I guess this could also happen when you are not becoming a digital nomad. It is probably part of becoming an adult that life can take different directions but it has its good sides too of course:
Learning to let go and making space for the new.
The more options you have in terms of where you want to go and who you want to meet up with again or which event in which country you want to attend, the harder it gets. This is usually not the hardest for me, naturally, things evolve from the connections I make, e.g. the latest one was Brazil but only because the “Nomad Cruise” happened to go there and I wanted to be with the community. And for me, it is always about the experience and the people and not about “I need to tick this and this off the bucket list immediately”.
Missing important events
Weddings, Birthdays, a new family addition etc. Of course, it is possible to plan and fly back but sometimes you ask yourself the question if it is worth to cross the Atlantic or travel 40 hours to attend this one thing if you do not want to stay there afterward anyways. I always do my best to attend but it does not always work out.
Finding normal life unimaginable
The more you see what is out there and what else you could do with your life the less attractive “normal” life becomes, at least for me.
Why start a family and settle already if you could do a yoga teacher training and travel India, do a 10-day Vipassana retreat, live in Bali, explore South Africa and Costa Rica, go sailing for a few weeks, do some more Atlantic Crossings, sleep under the stars in Uganda, go to a Tony Robbins Event, experience Burning Man at least once, pour all your time and effort in nurturing your “baby” aka online business or collaborate on other impactful projects.
It does not mean that I or digital nomads will never settle or never have a family, there is just so much I want to do before that and the more you travel and get inspired, the more possibilities you see.
2. Hard facts
Sacrifices for your dream
A lot of people see your Instagram pics and how you live and think you are “lucky” or “rich” or “lazy”. I want to cringe when I hear that. It took and still takes not only many hours of research, learning, putting in the work, getting out of the comfort zone, investments, overcoming limiting beliefs, saying “No” to things other people do (e.g. partying, buying a car or that secure job that would pay you a great salary)
It takes not only courage but also so much effort, persistence, focus, andemotional resilience to do something which is out of the norm and which is not certain and secure at all.
It is definitely worth it but it is not always easy.
Not being taken seriously
If you travel a lot, some people think all you do is chill out at beaches and drink coconuts. While you can of course also do that (and should), you also have to sit inside and work while it is 30 degrees and sunshine outside. When I was in Thailand in 2017, I was working as a freelancer for a client there and was in his office 3 days of the week like usual working days. The other days of the week I studied for my coaching certification, had mastermind calls and completed an online marketing program. The only time off I was giving myself was Sunday where I explored some parts of the surroundings and Wednesday I went to a girls lunch. The people who cannot imagine working remotely are often unsure how it is done and think this is all just a party or we do not know how real life is done.
You do not have certainty about your financial situation. You do not have certainty if your business venture is going to work out. You do not have certainty if you like the place you are going next which you thought you are going to stay for a few months to be productive. You learn to embrace uncertainty because it is also an exciting adventure and it makes you grow as a person so much but it is definitely not for the faint of heart.
It takes a lot of discipline to stay focused on your projects when you live in the most beautiful surroundings with a lot of fun things to do. I am not lying when I say it is easier for me to focus on work when it is cold and snow outside and the only options for fun stuff are the gym, hot chocolate or an inside pool. 🙂 You get the point.
The wifi is not good in every corner of the world and even when it is, there is no guarantee for every AirBnB or Café. You have to find out and have to schedule time in to change places in case it does not work.
While it IS possible to work across the world, you have to adjust your schedule around it and it is possible that you have to stay up late for a client call in another time zone or get up early according to where you are and where your clients or team members are. Most of the time it is not a big problem but it requires planning and consideration. I was working in Mexico for a German company when I was starting out in 2016 and started my workday at 7 am because it was already 1 pm in Germany and I needed to get back to their emails and sometimes calls before it was too late in the day.
Starting over again and again
When you come to a new city or place and want to stay for a while, you first have to research, plan and book but also once there, find the best place to eat, work, hang out, do sports, meet people etc. This gets easier if you do not move around too often or if you come back to the same places but it requires mental and emotional energy to get adjusted to a new place.
As mentioned before, this is all worth it and if you have a community of like-minded people, it makes it all very bearable and enjoyable! 🙂
How the Nomad Cruise changed the direction of my life
The past shapes your future
It all started in the summer of 2014 when I was sitting in my office job of a big company while I was still in university. I expected so much of the real working world after all those years of studying but found myself slightly disappointed and lacking a deeper purpose. I was getting lost reading several travel blogs telling stories about the digital nomad lifestyle explaining how it is possible to earn money online while traveling the world for an indefinite time.
It sounded like my personal dream of freedom and of creating a meaningful life on your own terms and I suddenly did not see any other option than this for my life anymore. I had done my share of long-term travel but it always came with the struggle of doing a very basic job in the other country such as it is possible with the “Working Holiday Visa” option e.g. in Australia as I had done after finishing high school. The other option was to have a decent amount of savings so that you can go traveling for a few months only to come back home broke.
Working from your laptop just sounded like the perfect solution but so far from reality, at that time, because I did not know anybody in my surroundings who would do or had even heard from such a thing.
My personality is extremely curious, dreamy, bold, ambitious and adventurous so I got “infected” by the “digital nomad virus” and needed to find out if this is a dream or could be reality… I like innovative ideas and possibilities and am not one of those persons who doesn’t at least TRY if it feels like the right thing to do!
Luckily, my professional career goal was to become a coach because I studied Business Psychology with a focus on “Training & Coaching” and it is something I am very passionate about. I then discovered that it is actually an option to do this online and I got so excited that I even dedicated my Bachelor Thesis to analyze this topic in order to find out more.
The turning point
Fast forward to spring 2015 when I had gone through an awful emotionally draining and months-long lasting breakup with my then-partner and the end of my university studies (finally) approaching. It was the perfect time for a new chapter in my life and I found myself in the decision process of either A) Finding a “real” job after all those years studying and settle somewhere, or B)Travel again for some time… but wouldn’t it be nice to try out the “travel while you earn from your laptop” lifestyle?
It was after one of those boring days at the office when I came across a few Facebook posts by digital nomads I had followed, who shared about a repositioning cruise by a Spanish cruise ship company. It was ridiculously cheap to cross the Atlantic Ocean, all inclusive, from the Gran Canary Islands to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil in November. Johannes Voelkner, the founder of Nomad Cruise, asked in his Facebook Group who would be interested in getting together as a group and having fun cruising to Brazil on a budget while sharing some skills and good times with each other. That was the sign I was looking for! I did not think about it twice and booked my ticket immediately. What did I have to lose?
What was an experiment then, with around 100 nomads or simply curious traveler souls, has now turned into a great project changing many lives and ultimately the world because of the synergies created when you bring — at this current stage 500 — intelligent, open-minded, entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box thinking individuals together.
To this date, I am incredibly grateful that I made the decision to join the very first Nomad Cruise in November 2015, followed by the second one in June 2016 from Cartagena, Colombia to Lisbon, Portugal and the seventh one, which happened not even 2 months ago, November 2018 from Barcelona, Spain to Recife, Brazil. (Not even starting about the adventures we had in Brazil after the cruise…)
What about the Nomad Cruise is so life-changing?
First of all, just imagine, putting a bunch of inspiring, like-minded, growth-oriented people together on a cruise ship. The first cruise didn’t have a stop on land, so we spent nine days at sea. For the first time in your life, you feel that there are no limits. You are far away from “the real world.” It is just you as a group on the Atlantic Ocean(there are other passengers on board but still), you feel like anything is possible. Then let those multi-faceted and smart people from different countries have workshops and good times together. They also don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or preparing food — obviously. I think it is a perfect setting to bear world-changing ideas and create space for collaborations which is something that happens as a result of the cruise.
You get a totally different perspective on what is possible and (as you always do when you go traveling and away from your usual surroundings) on your current life, on yourself and also question if what you are doing now, how you are acting or feeling is what you want to settle for or if a life transformation is what needs to happen to make the best out of your time on this planet.
The workshops were held by the participants and covered topics revolving around online marketing strategies, travel lifestyle or personal development. In the leisure time, you connect with the tribe and enjoy the bar, disco, meals, pool etc.together.
I left with a new sense of what is possible, made incredible friends and connections and even got a virtual assistant job through someone I met on the second cruise. The community, connections, and change in mindset truly is what makes the Nomad Cruise so special and lasts for a lifetime.
After the first Nomad Cruise, I spent seven months in South and North America (Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia) working from my laptop doing copywriting for a German company.
When I came back in July 2016, I decided to settle down for a while to focus on my business development as a coach and pursued a coaching certification and several courses about online marketing to deepen my skills and knowledge while continuing to work as a freelancer. In 2017, I spent some months in Chiang Mai, Thailand and some weeks in Tallinn, Estonia to further connect with digital nomads and learn as much as I could. Now I made it my mission to empower driven freedom seekers to create a life of purpose and show them that it is possible to earn money online and live life on their own terms.
If I did not go on the Cruise, I would have probably not had the courage to pursue this lifestyle and business. I also would have not become friends with so many inspiring souls whose goal is to make a bigger difference and live an extraordinary life. I would also not be the open, trusting, confident, happy, giving and connected person I am today.
This 90-day content challenge is actually inspired and facilitated by my great friend Patrick Farrell whom I met on Nomad Cruise 2. You can check him out here.
I can only end this by encouraging you to follow your gut intuition, especially when it comes to making big decisions.
My rational mind, of course, said that the “safe” option would be to get a regular 9–5 job but I would be not where I am today: Inspired and inspiring to others, fulfilled, passionate about what I do, doing my best to leverage my potential, always growing, collaborating with others to make a difference in the world and making great experiences. If Johannes would have gone for the “safe” option there would probably not be this great community… just saying…