When stay-at-home orders hit, it had wide-reaching effects around the world, particularly for people on vacation or temporarily living or working overseas. These individuals couldn’t return home, and for some, they were perpetually stuck on an everlasting vacation.
Danny Grainger is a digital nomad, someone who lives in different places around the world while getting his work done. When stay-at-home orders were issued, Grainger, a freelance writer, was in Bali. In this Q&A, he tells Inverse how learning spearfishing helped him improve his business.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I'm Danny Grainger, owner and founder at Danny Grainger Copy, a freelance writing company that helps businesses grow their websites’ authority and online presence with article creation and backlink building.
How have you conducted business in the past?
I started this business two years ago to see if I could create a sustainable way of pursuing my two passions: surfing and freediving. I now help many companies generate online traffic and grow sales and live with my partner in Bali. All I need is a reliable internet connection and some new ideas to make the business work.
“By looking at spearfishing as a necessity, it became a way for me to recalibrate my mindset.”
What immediate effects did stay-at-home orders have on you?
The stay-at-home orders issued in Indonesia meant I had an opportunity to turn my full attention to my business — but also that going home or any other country was no longer an option. The current situation also caused me to lose two clients, which significantly reduced my income.
What changes did you make to adapt to our current situation?
As fishing was one activity that was allowed during the lockdowns in Bali, I turned to spearfishing to have a productive outlet and legitimate way of getting out of the house. At the same time, spearfishing lowered our food costs, which lessened the financial impact of losing clients. I also noticed several benefits that regular spearfishing was having on my work productivity and mindset.
Being self-employed requires discipline, focus, and self-motivation -- commodities that were in short supply when the client base that took me years to build fell apart overnight. What spearfishing did was get me out of bed early, achieve something valuable, and clear my head for the day ahead.
The ideal time of day to go spearing is early morning, as it means the freshest fish possible for lunch or dinner, and the conditions are calmer in the morning (less wind, so better underwater visibility). Spearfishing is an activity that demands calmness -- you need to be relaxed and focused to prolong your breath-hold, and to exercise patience in finding the catch you're looking for. I find that by establishing this mindset early in the morning, I can better focus on my business work later in the day.
What were the challenges in implementing these changes?
The initial challenges came from my rather poor skills as a spearfisherman, in changing my mindset and in starting the process of finding new clients again. After losing clients, I allowed my state of mind to degenerate to an unhealthy place. Getting out of bed and being productive became challenges themselves, and I had zero motivation to start pitching and sourcing new clients. By looking at spearfishing as a necessity — something I had to do for food — it became a way for me to recalibrate my mindset.
Like self-employment and freelance writing, spearing requires preparation, which requires a routine. By starting my spearfishing routine the previous evening with getting equipment prepared, looking at the forecast and deciding where to go, I was priming my mind to overcome my demotivation and lousy focus. This took several weeks to become habitual, but once spearfishing became part of my routine, my partner and I noticed marked improvements in my mindset and work productivity.
“These adaptations have made crystal clear to me just how much control we can have over our own attitude.”
What have been the results?
The results from taking on spearfishing have been outstanding for my lifestyle and my business. I've learned a new skill that I improve every day. My partner and I eat healthy, fresh fish where we used to seldom eat fish. I'm clear-minded and motivated, and this has had significant knock-on effects for my freelance writing in that I've managed to get one more client on board and approach my work with pragmatism and confidence. It's shown me that I do have the ability to provide for myself and my partner, even in the worst-case scenarios. Being able to rely on yourself is an excellent feeling.
What have you learned through adapting to a remote environment?
These adaptations have made crystal clear to me how vital mindset is, and just how much control we can have over our own attitude. While there were factors out of my control impacting my business, I allowed those factors to get me down. I'm lucky that I could take charge of my actions and implement changes in my life to improve my state of mind.
Adapting to this remote environment has also reminded me of how important it is to keep learning — to keep challenging your body and mind and forcing yourself to improve and grow. Peace of mind is easier to achieve when the mind is challenged.
What advice do you have for others who are trying to figure out this new way of working?
Find an activity you can use to center your mind, learn new things, and help establish a routine. Self-employment and freelancing demands self-discipline, motivation, persistence, and focus. Taking on an extra hobby that you enjoy helps frame this mindset.
Also, for those new to freelance writing or any other field, find a mentor — someone who has already done what you want to achieve and has experience offering guidance. Ask them for help and see if they'll take you under their wing. It makes things much easier when you have a guide.