Ep. 154: How this nomadic yoga teacher is able to earn more while traveling the world with Shoshanna Raven
In this episode, I speak with Shoshanna who is a yoga teacher, writer, life coach, and founder of Living Brave podcast.
Through storytelling and community building, her programs, retreats, and content aim to breaks down shame and fear and empower us to step into our authentic selves.
Listen on to find out how Shoshanna has been able to travel the world as a community builder.
Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining us today. I’m so excited to be here with Shoshanna. Hey, how are you?
Hey Debbie. I’m doing really well. I’m so happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Thank you so much for being here today. Can you tell us more about you and why you live an offbeat life?
I’m currently in Bali. I’ve been on the road doing a freelance thing for 5 years; yoga teacher at Brave Retreats. I have my own podcast and I transitioned from my corporate career and corporate consulting at Big 4 consulting firms 5 years ago into freelance writing.
So I still love writing, that was really my first love that got me to be a digital nomad in the first place. There’s been a lot of evolution throughout the process, lots of highs and lows doing your own thing, but I really wouldn’t trade it for anything: flexibility, freedom lifestyle.
What made you decide to take that leap to become a freelancer and do it full-time instead of just staying in your nine-to-five? What was kind of the catalyst for that?
I have never really been comfortable in a traditional work – school environment. I think we can all relate to this a lot: you kind of feel like, ”Is anything going to work for me?” I don’t really like to have a schedule. I love performance-based cultures and I just didn’t see that at Big 4 consulting firm, a Fortune 500 company, where you stay as long as you can to show face.
It’s not really based on if you’re being creative and I was in a job where we had a busy season. So you’re in the office or at least 60 hours a week, 6 days a week and I felt like I was losing myself. And there was one night where I stayed until 1 A.M. doing all of my work. And I went home the next 18 day and I remember thinking, “Why do I have to be here?”
Kind of counting all of the time that I left for my vacation so I could take 10 days and go see my sister in Costa Rica, I had a really big moment of truth where I got an argument with her. And I told her she didn’t know what the real world was which made me laugh at myself because she was living the life and I was living a life that I thought I needed to live in this victim mentality, I think, a lot of people live in.
When they feel trapped with their job when, in fact, we have a privilege to be able to create opportunities for ourselves. But it just takes that push and realizing that it’s scarier to wake up where you are unhappy in 10 years instead of doing something completely, like you said, offbeat.
For me, just trying was actually less frightening than thinking about being married and knowing that I did not least give it a shot.
I love when you talked about ‘it’s all on you’. We do sometimes have that victim mentality and we tend to blame other people for things that are actually in our control than other peoples. And sometimes when we see that they’re succeeding in something or maybe they’re living the life that we want to live, we become really envious and then we take it out on them and we don’t realize that we can do the same thing.
I mean we live in a time right now and also we’re so fortunate. I mean if you’re listening to this and you live in the United States, Canada, UK, like any of these places, you are so fortunate to be able to choose whatever it is that you want to do with your life and it’s such a great time for this opportunity for sure.
Yeah. I love that you said that. Our reactions to other people and how they’re living are total reflections of how we’re doing. I love this quote, “Not everyone’s going to love when you kind of take your power back”. And whether that’s quitting your 9 to 5 and traveling the world, making a major shift, or just showing up as your authentic self, not everyone is going to say like, “Hell yeah! You got this.”
Some people are actually going to be offended or maybe even mean. And to have compassion towards that, to be like when someone has been convincing themselves their whole lives that they can’t do something, they shouldn’t do something and then you go and you do it – that is hard for some people.
So just having compassion for that and for your own life. Like shifting out of that envy and jealousy and reminding yourself like, “Okay, this is actually inspiration and there’s room for all of us.” Getting out of that competition mindset is awful and especially for women, I feel like I’m learning a lot of how it should be.
I definitely feel that way. I am friends with the most amazing women who are at the top of their game in my industry and I’m always in awe of them. And I do catch myself sometimes being envious and we do tend to compare ourselves, especially through social media. I know everybody says that but it’s really the truth.
But when you just center yourself and, like you said, when you change that mentality that you have instead of saying, “Oh, I wish I could do that.” or “Why haven’t I done that yet?” It’s like everyone has their own time frame of doing certain things. Maybe you’ve just started on your own journey, and it’s not the same thing.
So it’s so different for everybody else and I think we just have to really go at our own pace instead of other people’s.
100% and, like you said, we all know social media isn’t totally real life. And that’s why I think it’s amazing that people show up there being authentic. And it’s also, I think, important for digital nomads, freelancers, and whoever wants to go after that freedom lifestyle to know that it’s not all beautiful and perfect.
In fact, if you don’t do the work on yourself, just going to bring you to new heights in your career and going to lie to do these amazing things then, you’re going to stay in the same kind of rat race. Like no matter if you’re in the corporate world, in the digital nomad world, or the influencer world, if you’re not ok with where you’re at and your self-worth like “No, I’m ok, I’m powerful enough,” then you’re always going to be seeking more.
‘Cause there’s always someone who’s going to be doing ‘more than you” or “better than you”. Be inspired and also be like that harmony between things inspired by one another. And also being like, “But that’s your thing too and I don’t mean to do your thing because I have something unique to share with the world.”
That’s hard and I think that there’s a lot of messages trying to tell us the opposite thing. It’s definitely gotta need big help and a big struggle in this journey.
And sometimes just detoxing yourself from everything is also really helpful, guys, for your mental health.
Totally. That’s where yoga has been an amazing part of the journey as well. Not everyone is yoga, there are so many amazing meditation apps out there. Whatever you really do whether it’s playing an instrument – traveling with a ukulele, like doing something that’s unrelated to something like this outcome of productivity. Like you need it ‘cause you love it and it does make you feel like you, it makes you feel great. Even so important especially for people who are kind of maybe on their own trip review, traveling, playing themselves out there, always having something to keep you centered.
So let’s talk about when you actually left your nine-to-five to do freelancing full-time. We all have a “what now?” moment when you got to that point. What was yours like?
I quit my job. That was a big explosion one day of like, “I knew I had to do it.” And there were tears and then, there is a big sense of relief. I’m at the hot point where all I was doing were a couple of articles a week and I relay them to India. And I remember flying into Mumbai – in a country I’ve never been to.
Traveling alone as a yoga teacher, I’ve seen the miles of slums – a totally different universe. I’ve never been to Asia, I’ve never traveled alone and thought, “Alright, no expectations.” And having to navigate like who you are when you have none of the structures that tell you who you are.
You don’t realize but your job and your friends kind of like to help you be where you are. When you are in this new environment as a yoga teacher training on the beach and you are in heights like a tree growing out in the sun, you’re like, “Am iI going? Am I this? Am I that?” Like, ”where do I build in work?”
And all I know is that I was constantly in awe of what happened when I actually listened to my heart and took the leap. I would look up at the sky like multiple times; in ancient ruins in Hampi and black waters in Carolina beaches going for miles and think, “Thank God I didn’t listen to whatever I’m told. I listened to that voice inside that said, “Yeah. You can be a freelance writer, you can make it as a journalist”.”
Like, “It doesn’t matter if you have no experience even though everyone told you, “Oh, you haven’t had an internship in that or maybe you should try this kind of accounting”.” So, I guess it was actually a moment of realizing that If you do take the leap, it’s kind of like an alchemist who talks about beginners’ luck.
It’s like the universe rolls out a red carpet for you. At least, not a good experience, but you could be surprised how effortlessly it might change your expectations like, “You know what? We’ll just see what happens.” And then, standing in your power and really surprising yourself is one of the most magical things to do.
And I think one of the scariest things for most people is to let go of a lot of things especially if you have a type-A personality that is like taking an arm away from you. You feel really lost, you don’t know what’s happening. One of the biggest things I think that is really stopping us from a lot of things is just our own mind, right?
It’s that mental block that you have and just think that there are so many things that are stopping you or you can’t do anything. What has been your biggest mental block that you think that finally shifted and allowed you to get to the point where you are right now?
I think it’s that voice that wants to be accepted, liked, and validated. That has been the most amazing shift going from “Okay. I need to be liked by everyone and I’m learning to agree with my decisions” to “I’m not for everyone but oh my God, am I for some people?” And stepping into vulnerability and sharing especially when you go do something offbeat.
I remember when I quit my job, I started to blog. I was afraid: there are probably people who are reading and dissecting it and don’t like it. But there were so many people who reached out and said, “Thank you.”
And down the road saying, “I quit my job and I started doing this, in part because of your article.” And that has only continued through all the sharing, all of the different projects they launched. Like putting myself out there and being vulnerable in a way that other people see as brave. And flipping that narrative of, ”I don’t want to put myself out there because I’m afraid I’m not being liked,” to “Oh! This is my superpower – to stand my truth.” That’s actually the most attractive and empowering thing you can do.
And you will feel a bigger sense of commitment that you ever felt when you’re just authentic to yourself and steer to that space. That has been the biggest mental blocks you get over and I still struggle with that of course. you’re always thinking what other people are thinking about but knowing that you don’t mind perfections and my vulnerability is actually my superpowers.
And I’m not for everyone but the people I am for and love me for that.
When you finally accept who you are, I think, it’s like a domino effect: everything just falls into place in that sense. When you first started and you left your nine-to-five, right? I’m sure there were a lot of things that were obstacles for you. What was the biggest one that you thought you were going to encounter or did encounter and how did you handle it?
I think a lot of people struggle with the community and it can be tough in the beginning. I think this isn’t right when I quit my job, but when I moved to Denver and I was finally based somewhere and I didn’t have my work friends, I think we really underestimate how much work in the corporate world really has grounded us.
So, find those communities using your social platforms to meet other people who are doing it. Investing in yourself through programs or recruits that you can join and really immersing yourself in a digital nomad community wherever you are. I think it’s super important.
I think I felt lonely. That was like a big hurdle for me when I did take that leap just by reaching out and saying, “Oh my God what you’re doing is amazing. I want to do it.” and I’m like, ”You can. Let me tell you that I actually lessen my rent in New York.”
But yeah, I think it was that loneliness factor of shifting from having all these structures around you and your community to not having a community and making sure that you do take effort to immerse yourself in new places that are outside of your comfort zone as well.
So being prepared mentally for okay, “I’m stepping outside my comfort zone and it’s going to be uncomfortable but I know that I will thrive.”
So what about right now? What is your setback currently whether it’s with your lifestyle or your business?
I think that the biggest backpack would be honing in on one thing. I transitioned from writing primarily business and market journalism a while back to doing health and wellness writing to stepping into my own sense. So, being an entrepreneur instead of a freelancer.
Entrepreneurship is full of highs and lows. Like more so than kind of having clients that you work for because it’s your phase and it’s totally you. So the biggest hurdle is like, okay, “What can I best put out there that can be of service to others? And that I can make a living off of and feel good about.”
And so I think, as an entrepreneur, that fear of failure. Not even failure itself, it’s actually just the fear and overcoming that the best way to do that is to lean into and say, “Ok, it’s not going to be perfect. But if I wait until it’s perfect I’m never going to do it.” So, yeah, the hurdle is like the fear of being rejected and the fear of failure.
The best way to do it is just to put yourself out there and fine-tuning your mission will come with it. You don’t need to know exactly what you’re good at and what’s your best set right now. And accepting that your business will evolve with you.
I think, too, in the beginning, that’s kind of what you’re trying to do: you’re just throwing everything against the wall and then you’re seeing whatever sticks. And, we sometimes get caught up like, “Okay. I really need to find this thing.” And we put so much pressure in ourselves that we end up freezing and we don’t do anything or we feel so much pressure with ourselves.
So I think sometimes as you said, it’s just embracing all of that and that’s how you really figure out what really sticks. But it is true; you do have to niche down eventually and find out what or where you need to be in order to do that. Because it is also the truth.that there’s so many of us that do have that shiny object syndrome and that can be super detrimental with our business, especially when you’re trying to grow something and then you find another thing that somebody else is doing that looks really cool. And you forget about your main purpose and you start going off into so many different directions, which is also not helpful.
So yeah, it’s definitely hard to balance all of that and figure out where you need to be.
Exactly. I love what you said about coming back to your mission. If you find yourself confused and you have a million things going on or even just a million different ideas coming back to your values like, “Okay. Why am I doing this? What do I want for my future?” And then, reverse engineering from there. “What do I want my future to look like? What specifics will I get?” And then, “What will allow me to make that reality?”
And that will help with the clarity a little bit but it definitely is when you have free rein and free authorship over your days and what you want to do that can be a big challenge. But also viewing that from a place of gratitude instead of overwhelmed like, “Yes, I have all these decisions and I’m going to focus on a few of them,” then, revisit.
Definitely, that drive to stay with what you’re doing. I know like in the podcast world and anything that you launched is like, “Alright. So excited!” And then, maybe your viewership drops a little bit and we all know that’s when most people drop out. And it’s like, “Can you stick with it?” And I think a big differentiator is people are doing it because It aligns with their values in the first place and they’re excited about it.
Yeah. And I think if you’re just doing it to do something new it really like you said, drops off after a little bit because there’s really nothing behind it except for either you’re just doing it just because everyone else is doing it or just for the money. I tell people this all the time, “When you find your niche, you need to make money from it, obviously.” Because otherwise, you’re just going to have to go back to things that you don’t want to do.
But you also don’t want to do it just for the money. If you can do it for both; like something that you’re passionate about and something that you really believe in and you can make income from that, I think that’s like the perfect balance. And I think what we all set out to do but if you’re just doing it to be cool or it’s brand-new, that’s great for a hobby, but it’s definitely not sustainable in the long run.
Right. And I think that comes down to also valuing yourself. Because we’re so used to getting paid for things we work – things we don’t like to do. And then say, you’re a yoga teacher or a coach, stepping into actually valuing your time highly is challenging. And it comes with just believing that you’re worth that. And of course, you know you’re doing it because you love it but it’s also a great benefit to people.
So, valuing your worth is really what I work with people on and it’s uncomfortable to say, “Yeah. I tried a hundred an hour – didn’t jump from that.” And to believe it too and not because you’re money hungry, but because you know that the value of your time and your product is great.
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, the really main thing is that you need to be able to charge – there has to be. And the thing is if you’re just doing everything for free, it’s really undervaluing yourself and telling people, “Listen. I’m not valuable enough for you to pay for this. I’m always going to be free.”
And I think when you do charge people they tend to appreciate you more and appreciate your work in that sense.
Right. And then, investing in others that you see what they’re doing. And you like what you’re doing. I want to be at a point where I can invest in my friends and support them in what they’re doing as well.
So, it’s kind of stepping out from that scarcity mentality as well. It’s a huge part of doing one thing. A huge part of the digital nomad. In a freelancing world, there’s not going to be the stability that you used to have.
Actually, I’m getting questions like “What’s the big hurdle?”, it’s that scarcity mentality like, “Oh my gosh. I don’t know what my page like is.”And not letting that make you recount saying, “You know what? I have skills and I have value. And even if I’m projecting to project or whatever it may be, I’m not afraid that I won’t have work. I’m not afraid that I won’t have clients.”
That’s the shift that is hard to make but once you do it’s worth it.
It’s definitely a huge shift. And again, it’s a lot about your mental block with so many different things and that’s one really big one for all of us.
Totally. We know we have these mental blocks, what’s the first step towards getting past them? We know they exist and we want to move past them. So, I think it’s kind of just committing to get to know your limiting beliefs. Some stories around living an offbeat life. I love that practice of writing out your limiting beliefs and handwriting the counterparts to that.
So saying like, “I won’t have enough money.” And the counter would be, “I have valuable skills and opportunities will come my way.” Having that even as a poster, something you see yourself in the morning. Like writing on your whiteboard, I used to do that so I see it when I wake up every day.
Those little practices are really helpful and of course, you can step into your own yoga or meditation whatever kind of practice you. But just having a greater understanding of the things that are on your way because they are unique for every person is so valuable.
I always find that whenever I have these feelings really when I have mental blocks or whenever I don’t feel good about what I’m doing – questioning myself. One of the things that always really works for me is I continue. I still do the tasks that I need to do when it comes to financials or like earnings. I’m never really worried about that. I just keep going and then I do the tasks that I need to do in order to get to that point.
And it always works out because you’re doing something to get there and I think for a lot of people, it stops us from taking action and I think that should be the moment when you should take action, right? Because if you don’t, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy whenever you have these doubts about yourself, you’re saying, “Oh, I’m not going to make this.” And then you’re stopping then you’re really sabotaging yourself.
Actually at that moment is when I start doing more actions. Even if it’s just one because sometimes it does freeze you and you’re so unmotivated, but I always try to push through because it’s so important to do it at that time. Otherwise, you’re just going to go into your hole and it’s going to be really hard for you to come out of it.
That’s such a good point. It’s like the time where it’s the hardest to take action is one of the most important. If you think that it’s not working out, the sure way that it’s not going to work out is to stop. You’re basically like, “Yes, I want to be right, like you’re telling yourself, “This isn’t going to work out.”
So, you basically make yourself right. I’m not going to tell you, “You’re so smart but you’re a failure,” so funny.
Yeah, I think we do. We self-sabotage ourselves and whenever I see that with myself like, “What am I doing?” “Okay, you need to regroup. Start doing what you need to be doing and stop making excuses because you’re just not where you need to be and that’s nothing that you can’t get out of.
And I think that’s so important to really talk to ourselves and, like you said, writing it down, talking to ourselves. It’s so important to do that because we need to also really understand what’s happening and sometimes we’re just “go, go, go” and we don’t really take the moment to do that.
So now, talking about financials, right? How much money did you actually save before you set off to become a freelancer, to start traveling the world, and how are you able to budget that to last?
This is such a good question. So, basically I was kind of living, I think it’s a blind privilege when you don’t realize like, “Okay, I’m living in New York. I’m making more money than I’ve ever made. I’m living in this small apartment that costs like $1,400 a month.” And I’m just kind of living in excess. I was saving nothing, working in my consulting job actually. Like living paycheck to paycheck.
And I think it was like four months before I quit and my mom, she’s always been so money-savvy. She forced me to save $500 a month, which was amazing of her. She just pushed me to do it and I’m like, “Why I failed to even do that?” So, there was maybe $3000 in my bank account and I didn’t spend a dollar. I put it down for my yoga teacher training which is super cheap in India.
Since my mom is really financially savvy, I wrote out an Excel spreadsheet of what it was going to cost me to go to India on my freelancing budget, getting my yoga teacher training there which was less than $2,000 for my own private hut on the beach. All of the materials, all of the classes and the training versus, I think, it costs something like $4,000 in New York without room for me.
So, I was like, “This is actually more financially smart for me to go to India on tutor training. I’m actually saving money because it’s so cheap to live there. I made sure that I had my freelancing job before I quit so I never spent any of my savings. And I had to make sure I could save 100% of my freelancing income which over 6 months became more of, not full-time, like 20 hours a week instead of 40. I was able to save, for the first time like $10,000 and $20,000 while I was living on remote islands and beaches in Central America teaching yoga every day, doing Yoga Trade.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard about WorkAwa.info. People go into the site, they find, say, bartending jobs, working as hustlers, working on organic farms. And in exchange for working, they got a free room. And so for me, I was teaching yoga for 1 hour a day, which gave me yoga experience.
My first yoga job, teaching yoga every single day which is great for my yoga career. I was also able to do my freelance writing on the side. I haven’t really scaled too much with the writing. Actually, I transitioned away into my own stuff that I was able to save $100,000. Something that people don’t do – making a six-figure income. And that’s just because I was financially smart about what I was spending.
I spend maybe like $7 a day, some days in India. Living really well and now I don’t really do the budget backpacker thing as much but I’m still spending $50, $60 on food. Eating amazing foods, staying in a great place with a private pool and a kitchen.
So I think it’s really about understanding that you could take advantage of the global cost of living. Optimizing by doing work trades in the beginning especially if you don’t have a freelance job. Getting somewhere and doing WorkAway, I think that’s really overlooked and a lot of people don’t know that it exists.
Yeah. I think people are listening to this and saying, “Oh my God! She saved $100,000 and she wasn’t making even nearly as much as when she was in New York.” So that is an incredible thing that you are able to do and I would love to talk more about that for our extended interview as well, Shoshanna. So that’s going to be awesome.
People have misconceptions about leaving, ”We’re going to be broke. We’re going to do this.” But if you do it the right way like you did you could actually be making more money and all the living better.
Yeah. It’s crazy and that’s why I love to share what I’m doing, I’m like, “This is possible.” I remember my friends in New York would be like, “How are you traveling? How do you have the money?” And I’m like, “Actually, right now, I’m saving more than I was living in New York. While I’m living expenses-free, I write a few hours a week.”
Yeah. Your story is so incredible and I think it’s something that a lot of people really need to listen to because it’s, I guess, what most people would think is impossible, right? And it’s out of reach and you literally left with three grand in your pocket and you grew it to a hundred thousand. So, that’s incredible and you can definitely do this lifestyle.
It’s just a matter of doing it smartly and living in places that you can afford. It’s actually a better lifestyle and not New York City, guys, not New York City.
We had one girl living in my apartment and she’s like, “Can you give us $1200? Like the cheap room?” It was this tiny little loft where you couldn’t stand up. When she wasn’t there, I kept looking like, “Is someone listening?”
I love New York so much. I grew up in Connecticut. We were talking about earlier, “If you don’t like New York, you just need to try something new there,” ‘cause there are a million different lives you can live and it’s a great city. Even though it’s easy to make fun of it or talk about it in that way.
Absolutely. I mean, it’s just a completely different world once you actually stepped out of it. Now, are you working on anything currently that is really exciting to you?
What’s kind of new for me is stepping into retreats. So, transformational Retreats meaning yoga retreats also with the emphasis on adventure and community-building. So, I just had my first retreat in Panama and it was a big success. We sold it out and it was actually at the place that I had my first ever yoga job.
So, I mentioned that I was doing Yoga Trade, saving my freelance income while living on a beach somewhere. I’ve ended up staying there for a couple of months and met the owners. And then four years later, I hosted my first sold-out retreat at the same spot.
It was super special and that could buy a lot of momentum to move forward with our retreat next month over Holi in India, I’m doing it with my partner. And then, in Guatemala in November at another place that I also lived four years ago during my yoga travel.
So, that’s really exciting and then, stepping into the world of podcasting with my podcast, Living Brave, which is all about weaning into discomfort and knowing vulnerability and courage.
And creating a program for people who want to do this. More so, people who want to stand in their truth and want to share their story and make a big life transition. It’s an 8-week program, it’s kind of like a Mastermind made of particle tuning. There would be group challenges, commability, community, and support. So, a lot is going on. Having a lot of things going on is something that is announced on the last day and I’m like, “Alright. You just focus on one thing – I don’t think so.”
So if our listeners want to know more about you? Where can I find you?
They can find me on my website: ShoshannaRaven.com. And on Instagram @shoshann_raven, I love DMs, I always connect there. Those are probably the two easiest places.
Thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate all the knowledge that you gave us and so many incredible tips as well.
Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. I love learning about your stories also. Thank you for the work that you’re doing and I know this will be really helpful for anyone listening out there. So, you’re the best.
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Audio Engineer: Ben Smith