Wherever you are in the world, you’ve probably heard about our whirlwind week in British politics. Last week’s election means Brexit will happen at the end of January and that — apparently — Boris Johnson is the best we’ve got in terms of political leadership. Don't forget: This is the same man who hid in a fridge to avoid a media interview the day before the polls opened. Stay classy, Boris.
After a decade of austerity under BoJo’s party, poverty and homelessness are rife in the UK. Years of political chaos have also left many young Britons unemployed, underemployed or doing bullshit jobs that algorithms will soon sweep out from under them. From universities to hospitals to transport, public services have been chronically and purposely underfunded. Bureaucracy, corruption, and indecision work together to prevent progress and reinforce long-standing inequalities.
As a humanist and a futurist, I understand the urgent need for radical, progressive policies to guide us through the next decade. Technology and the climate crisis are changing everything, and it’s happening rapidly. Status-quo thinking won’t help with the challenges ahead, yet its poster boy is now the Prime Minister. I look at my home country and its prospects now, and I feel a total disconnect — like it’s no longer a place I can call home.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity, especially with the young, offered hope that the UK might finally catch up with the social-democratic values and consensus-building politics of its European neighbours. No such luck. Few British people seem to believe in the possibilities of the world anymore, and I don’t blame them. It’s mentally exhausting to live and work in such a negative environment.
In a bad environment, my work and wellbeing suffer; I become unproductive and unreasonable; imposter syndrome sets in; I stop sleeping; I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. In the UK today, I find myself wondering: Is this really what life in one of the wealthiest nations on earth should feel like?
My experiences as a digital nomad have taught me there are many other places to build a fulfilling life and run a successful business — places where I can wake up each day feeling inspired just to be where I am, doing what I’m doing.
For freelancers, entrepreneurs, portfolio careerists, and anybody else who’s prepared to do the paperwork, the whole world is our playground. I plan to embrace that fully in the year ahead. Soon, I’ll pursue my own Brexit and relocate to a city known for its canals, stroopwafels, coffeeshops, and game-changing ideas.
I have no doubt that friends, family, and work will bring me back to Norwich and London regularly, but it’s time to get some distance from the UK in the hope I can learn to love it again. Amsterdam feels like exactly the right place to do that.
When political decisions make us feel like we don’t have any control over our lives, it’s easy to feel cheated, sad, helpless, alone. But it’s important to take a step back and think deeply about our priorities and ambitions. Humans tend to overestimate the difficulty and complexity of pursuing change. We’re also really good at talking ourselves out of things before ever really exploring them.
During the year ahead, consider the changes that would make your day-to-day happier, your life richer, and your mind sharper. Remind yourself that you have options, and that even when everything feels wrong, there’s always a way to hit the reset button.