(Interview in my Lifestyle Design Heroes series)
Kaushal Karkhanis is the ‘Exotic Gringo’ (Spanish for exotic foreigner) of the web world. Ever since he fell in love with South America years ago, the digital strategist and travel blogger from Mumbai has been travelling and unravelling the world, hoping to “inspire, educate and entertain” people through his stories. His goal is to “always be a year younger than the number of countries I’ve visited.”
I did a follow-up interview with Kaushal from the time I had interviewed him in 2010 for a blog (republished here on August 14, 2015: ‘Meet location-independent pro Kaushal Karkhanis’). He continues to travel exotic and live simple, blending in and living like a local, soaking in the cultures (picking coffee in Cambodia to assembling foodies) while his travel blog Exotic Gringo lets readers travel globally through contests. He continues to learn languages and has some more inspiring stories up his sleeve. Read the interview for more.
Kaushal on life since 2010
It’s been a roller-coaster ride, if i have to put it in short. From going broke to realising it’s stupid to try to do multiple things at once to taking up a job for recuperating — to getting back on track as a digital nomad — it has been one fabulous roller-coaster ride.
On his current goals
Not too different from back then — live a fit life while working on the go — the one thing I have as a clear apex goal is to become a great investor. My immediate goal is to get back to fitness. No other goal has failed me as this one, but I’m never giving up. I’m taking to bodyweight workouts, 7-minute HIIT workouts and running because you can do these anywhere, any time with zero equipment – okay, may be a skipping rope.
What he has learned about goal-setting
I was probably overdosing on caffeine when i chalked up my goal set — they were all great, but i was trying to do too many things at once. The goals haven’t changed very much, but i’m approaching them differently now. Baby steps and incremental improvements as opposed to jumping all-in (that only led to fatigue – i had never factored in wellness). You could say i’m aligning mind-body-spirit this time.
I’m actually trying to reduce dependency on technology and automate processes – too much screen time is not a good idea in your 30s. I’ve set my phone to switch off at night and switch on at daybreak to inculcate some discipline. I’m a fan of any technology which helps me be more organised and disciplined.
Best apps for productivity, performance and fitness
I love IFTTT for automation, Google Calendar and Google Now do a fantastic job as a virtual assistant.
Other favourites: Dollarbird for budgeting; Runkeeper, Habits & 7-Minute Workout for fitness.
Becoming financially independent in your 30s
Here’s some basic math which I wish I understood earlier. Figure out your monthly expenses, multiply that by 120 – that’s how much you need to invest with returns of 10-20%. You would not need to work for a living any more.
On joining the New Rich
Let’s define who the New Rich are. To me, the New Rich are people who create their own lifestyle and value time and expriences over money (we love money for helping in making our dreams a reality, we just value time more). As for critics, they are great… they keep us motivated. Besides, lifestyle is a personal choice. Maybe they’re not wrong – they just choose a different kind of life and i wouldn’t waste time trying to persuade them.
Kaushal’s steps to re-design your lifestyle
- Unclutter to the bare basics
- Define your short, mid-term and long term goals (some may change, so don’t be stoic about them)
- Fail early by experimenting – the younger you fail, the sooner you’ll succeed
5 things he has learnt over the past 5 years
- Keep an eye on the cash flow. You can’t be productive if you’re worrying about finances.
- It’s okay to fail at anything – the world doesn’t end. Get back up and move on.
- Wellness and internal balance is as (or more) important as fitness and worldly gains.
- Keep redefining your personal labels and stay aligned to your goals and purpose. Everything else falls in place.
- Small, incremental change is easier and more sustainable than trying to make a sea change.