Today I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my good friends, Liana Buenaventura. Liana recently quit her corporate career after 20 years in search of a life of travel. If you’re thinking of transitioning to a new career, looking for a better work-life balance, or searching for more meaning in your life, Liana’s story is for you!
Tell us your story
It’s funny, when people used to ask me this question (i.e. “who are you?” or “tell me about yourself”), I’d always reply “I’m a director at an advertising agency.” But I finally realized in my late 30s that was WHAT I did, not WHO I was.
So who am I? Well, my name is Liana Buenaventura. I am a newly-turned 40-year old Canadian woman that is currently splitting my time between Canada and Bali, and I love to experience. I am happiest when I’m immersing myself in new cultures, trying new things, and meeting new people. Now, I want to help others with their own travel experiences.
What made you decide to quit your 9-5 and start living the digital nomad lifestyle?
My adult life was pretty much devoted to working my way up the ladder; I had to work really hard over the past 20 years to get to my executive-level position. This was especially true given that I am self-taught and had people tell me I’d never get anywhere without a degree. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the grind and challenging the status quo. That’s what I was happiest doing. In retrospect, it’s exactly what I needed to do to get me to where I am today.
But, over the past year in particular, I could feel myself pulling away from the corporate world and agency life. I used to think that the long hours were sexy, that being available around the clock was somehow healthy, and that “busy” was a badge of honour.
It became less enchanting to climb the ladder and earn the next title. I was exhausted by the politics, frustrated with not trying new things, and tired of having to make my three weeks of vacation time work for my travel goals and dreams.
I craved genuine experience and wanted to do more meaningful work that impacted others; My life needed more purpose.
Then, my second trip to Bali happened. I asked for a mini-sabbatical of six weeks from work. I knew that if I wasn’t given it, I would quit and go anyway. This is when I knew a shift was coming.
During that trip, I (for the first time EVER in 20 years) shut my email and Slack off completely and focused on the present, on me.
I learned how to breathe, I made space to look inward, I felt empowered and clear of mind and spirit. I spoke to others (including Mike & Laura) about the idea of leaving the life I had known for so long. Another friend asked, “what’s stopping you?”. The only thing that I could answer was “a steady paycheck”. Saying those words terrified (and disappointed) me. That was when I knew it was time.
Did you have any fears or doubts that came with this transition?
Of course, making sure I keep a steady income coming in will always be on my mind. While I would love to stop everything and focus solely on buenaventours, I’m simply not in a position to do that…yet!
So, I’ve taken on a few freelance clients (and by “a few”, I literally mean a select three) to keep a steady income going. This also allows me the time and space to keep growing buenaventours.
What is your new business venture?
buenaventours is all about creating custom, curated, and meaningful Bali experiences. I always tell people that unlike other destinations, there is no one way to experience Bali. Just like every traveler coming to Bali, every experience will be unique and different and I can help create that.
Although I’m speaking mostly to my own demographic (women over 30), I work with all types of travelers. This includes men, women, solo travelers, couples, groups of friends, families, people who have never traveled overseas, and people who have been to countless countries.
What experience do you have with this type of business?
I travel a lot and have always planned my own experiences throughout the 21 different countries I’ve visited. My parents taught me at a very young age how to plan well for travel. They taught me to create itineraries and even how to pack efficiently. And, while I travel mostly solo these days, I have a lot of experience traveling as a couple or with a group of friends.
I absolutely love every aspect of travel from finding and booking the right flight itinerary to discovering which neighborhoods to stay in. My family also has a lot of travel agency and planning experience. I can always lean on them for advice and help.
Of course, my extensive time here in Bali helps a lot, too. There’s no better way to learn about a place than to be right on the ground, living in it.
What do you plan to accomplish in the next several months?
My plan is to grow the buenaventours brand. I’d like to work with at least two new clients/month, publish my eBook, grow the blog to over 2,500 website sessions/month. I’d also like to increase my Pinterest viewers to 70,000/month, publish two new blog posts each week, and continue growing my network in Bali and throughout the travel blogging community.
What have your friends said about this? Are they supportive?
My friends have been nothing BUT supportive during this endeavor. It was a scary thing going from 50+ hour weeks and focusing solely on agency life success to being “unemployed”, having no car (I sold it before my most recent trip here), and pretty much having no fixed address.
They encouraged me and kept me motivated all throughout that time. From the warm messages I receive from overseas, to people sharing my blog, to those passing along recommendations. My friends have been nothing but fantastic. One of my best friends back home even picked up and deposited a check at my bank for me a day after I left for this most recent trip. Now that’s support!
What does your typical day look like? What has the nomadic lifestyle offered you?
My typical day starts around 5:30am. This is the time I usually woke up at in Canada and I’m really happy I’ve been able to maintain that as it works well for communicating with my clients back home. I meditate a bit, have a good breakfast, then work til about 8am. After, I go to the gym to train (Olympic weightlifting).
Once I’m home, I’ll refuel the body with some organic fresh goodness, work again, maybe have a nap, then do about an hour of yoga in the afternoon. Then I do some more work or have a massage, a sunset or pool beer and dinner, and a bit more work. Sometimes I have conference calls at 9-10pm, but I try to limit that to only 1-2 per week as I like to be in bed by 9:30.
Living as a nomad certainly gives me more space to balance life and work, but I am extremely mindful of keeping a consistent schedule and having the self-discipline to keep my work going. I’m a big believer in setting an intention every day and that includes career intentions, too.
What are your goals for the next year? … five years?
I’m typically a take-it-as-it-comes kind of girl, so five years seems SO FAR away! If I had to choose something though, it would be to ensure I don’t fall back into the non-stop craziness of the corporate world. I want to continue to make space for me, for my self-care and for my dreams and desires.
I don’t know if I’ll still be a nomad or a freelance consultant in five years, and who knows how big I grow buenaventours? The only thing I know is that the peace and balance I’ve found and am practicing everyday is so important to maintaining a meaningful life, and I should never let that go.
Where can people read more and follow your journey?
A huge thank you to Liana from buenaventours for answering our questions. Liana is doing what most people only dream of doing; quitting a life in the corporate world in search of amazing experiences. If you’re looking for more meaning in your life and need some inspiration, be sure to visit buenaventours and follow along for Liana’s journey!
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