We moved out of our home at the beginning of 2020 to embark on a sabbatical year of nomadic travel. With no house or car, we set out to travel the world.
Then the pandemic hit.
This is an update on how we’re managing to #StayHome without a home.
It’s a strange time to have no home. At the beginning of 2020, my wife, Laci, and I set out on a sabbatical year of nomadic travel. We moved out of our house in San Antonio, Texas. No house, no car. We set out with nothing but our backpacks. We were finally going to get to visit all the places in the world that I’d never been, that I’d wanted to go to for so many years.
We don’t have a home, we don’t have a car, and we also didn’t know where we were going to live after the sabbatical year. We weren’t necessarily planning to move back to Texas. Part of the point of this trip—this journey—was to explore different places in the world and see where we liked and where we might end up wanting to live.
Then, of course, the pandemic hit. It was gradual and then all of a sudden. Kind of like a tsunami that’s just beyond the horizon. It doesn’t really seem like anything at first. You can kind of see something coming really far away, but everything seems normal where you’re standing… until it hits.
We were doing meetups as we traveled from city to city. At the very beginning of March, I decided we’re going to put into place a no-handshakes policy. People thought that was kind of crazy at the time, but I’m paying attention to stuff happening in other countries around the world and starting to exercise caution. Pretty quickly, it was evident that this is coming to the U.S. It’s not here yet, but it is coming. I decided to cancel our meetup in early March (which also seemed overly cautious to a lot of people at the time).
Looking back, I’m glad I canceled that meetup. It’s obvious I made the right decision. We’ve been social distancing, staying at home, for well over a month now—even before it was required by the government. But it was still very challenging given that we don’t have a home to do the whole #StayHome thing. As soon as we could, we started looking for longer-term accommodations. We now have that. We’ve found a place we can stay for the next couple of months at least.
We’re going to continue to stay in place with the exception of going outside to get some exercise and Vitamin D to help boost that immune system. I realize, in some countries, you’re not even allowed to go outside, which is really unfortunate. Here in the United States, we still can. I’m definitely taking advantage of that while still continuing to practice social distancing and staying more than six feet away from people.
I’m still running. I had actually signed up for a marathon that was going to be at the end of May. It’s since been canceled, but I’m continuing to train anyway.
The nice thing about running, unlike other sports, is you can run the 26.2 miles on your own if you need to. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, so I’m either going to train hardcore (or work on something hardcore), or I’m just going to be apathetic and lazy and play Animal Crossing on Nintendo Switch all day.
So I’m sticking to my training and feeling really good about it. I feel physically fit. I’m doing some drawing, some writing, and some journaling for myself. All things considered, we’re doing okay.
Laci is also doing well. She’s more extroverted than I am, so she’s doing a lot more video calls with people and things like that. She’s reading lots of books, embroidering.
Where it’s a little challenging is finances. Some of you may know, we shared last year that Laci had some pretty serious health issues, which wiped us out financially. A lot of you helped with our medical bills and her thousand-dollar-a-day treatment that went on for a long time. The only way we were able to do this sabbatical year—it’s not like we had a year’s worth of expenses saved up—is because I would continue taking a salary from my business, seanwes.
I’d been training my right hand guy, Dan, throughout 2019 to run the business during my sabbatical year. We planned out all of our promotions in 2020. He’s been running all of those campaigns and everything was going to be just fine. We’d have enough money, and I’d be able to go on my sabbatical year.
Our most important promotion of the year was slated for March.
We were running a campaign our annual membership, seanwes membership, which is kind of like Netflix for business training (community, office hours, etc.). We help you build your own business, and go from working a job (or maybe you just got let go from a job) to making your own business. We teach you go to get your own clients, price your services, sell digital products, and things like that.
This promotion was planned back in 2019, and we turned it on at the very beginning of March before the pandemic hit the U.S. As luck would have it, right in the middle of March when we’re at the conclusion of our promotion… panic breaks out. Nobody’s spending money. Everyone’s freaking out. It’s unfortunate, because seanwes membership is the perfect compliment to a situation where you’re staying at home, you need ways to make extra money, you need to reinvent yourself and invest in your career,you have nothing but time and an internet connection, you feel lonely and you need community.
The timing couldn’t have been worse. This promotion we were relying on for revenue to get us through the summer performed only 14% as well as last year. Absolutely horrible. So while it’s not like we have a restaurant—obviously, restaurant businesses were hit terribly hard by the pandemic—the timing of the pandemic during our promotion caused our business to get hit really hard.
So that’s difficult. That’s challenging.
I haven’t done one of these updates in a while because there are just a bunch of things I don’t know. I don’t know where we’re going to live in a couple of months. I don’t know what the world’s going to look like. I don’t know what the business looks like. I don’t know what my sabbatical looks like. Am I going to need to stop my sabbatical and come back to work? Because our revenue projections are no longer reliable. At the very least, I had to cut back on a lot of expenses, and rearrange a bunch of things, just to be able to continue paying salaries.
One of the casualties of all of this is the seanwes podcast. This is the podcast I’ve been doing since 2013. We’ve got like 400 or 500 episodes and have been doing it for many, many years. When I set out on this sabbatical, there were always two options: I could put the podcast on pause for a year (and then come back). But I thought it would be nicer if we kept it going and kept it “warm”, so to speak. So I had Ben, my cohost, and Dan, my right-hand guy, continue to record the podcast on a weekly basis in my absence. Now, it’s not something I talk about often, because it’s boring and uninteresting, but I do pay Ben, my cohost, to record the podcast. For many, many years, I’ve paid him. When he initially joined the show, he wasn’t paid because he just wanted to do it. He enjoyed doing it (and still does). But I wanted to let him know I appreciated him and respected his time, so I paid him.
As far as the business expenses are concerned, the amount I pay Ben to record the podcast is nontrivial. When I looked at things, it was clear we had to cut expenses. It was a really hard decision, but I decided we’d have to hit pause on having Ben and Dan continue to record podcast episodes.
So that creates yet another unknown: I don’t know what the future of the podcast looks like. I mean, I’ll still record mini-episodes like this on occasion, but I don’t know at what frequency—and I hate saying that, because I like consistency. I like doing things on a weekly cadence. But I’m also trying to stay true to my sabbatical and not create obligations for myself. At the same time, I’m wondering if I’m even going to be able to keep doing this sabbatical.
Everything’s just up in the air. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and so I’ve hesitated making this update because, what am I going to do? Come on and record an update to say, “I don’t know a bunch of things, and I’m uncertain…”? But that’s the reality of it, and I think a lot of you are feeling that way as well in many different regards.
So I decided to record this anyway and let you know you’re not alone. This is affecting all of us and it’s a challenging time.
Just let me know. I’m here to help. I’m here for you, and I wish you the best.