Not to be confused with Ideal Development Environments, I define IDEs as “Ideal Day Environments” as environments where I can make the best of every day.
Let’s start with the fundamentals:
Fundamental #1: Big success is an accumulation of small daily wins
You achieve big goals in life by executing small each day. The accumulation of these small wins appears like big successes at the end of the year.
I always say “There is no great year, only great days”. What you can control right now is how you’re going to spend your day. And the good news is: That’s all you need to fix. You make your ideal days, and the days will make your ideal life.
Hence, you need to define your goals not by the end result but by the daily habits that will lead to the end result.
Fundamental #2: Your ideal day is one where you execute all your daily habits
Once you’ve broken down your life goals into daily habits, you’ve automated your goals. Let’s say you shortlisted 10 habits you want to execute daily, then an ideal day would be one where you can get all 10 of them done.
Here are some examples of great daily habits you can pick from based on your life goals.
Fundamental #3: Habits remove the dependency on will power
Now, you cannot rely on things like discipline and will power to make sure you execute those habits every day.
Instead, you should create a machine-like system that executes the habits as a way of life. This is exactly where the concept of IDEs come in.
What are IDEs?
Every machine has a rating. To work at its best, the machine needs to be in a certain temperate range. Many machines have a power rating, a voltage rating, and a frequency rating.
Here’s another less technical example:
Some wines are best served at room temperature while others have a specific temperature rating. Some wine glasses bring out the flavor and smell of the wine much more than other regular glasses.
These parameters define the environment in which the wine or the machine tastes best or performs best.
Similarly, we all need IDEs. Not to be confused with Ideal Development Environments, I define IDEs as “Ideal Day Environments” as environments where I can make the best of every day.
A lot of highly productive people go on deep work vacations to their IDEs however during these days, they focus on getting a lot done. And then, they come back to their cities or families.
My approach is to live in my IDEs every day so I don’t need to accumulate my ideal life into small capsules of time.
My Ideal Day Environments
Since I’m a digital nomad, I can define multiple ideal day environments.
I’ve considered places the quality of life and cost of living ratio is ideal. Additionally, as explained above, rather than adding friction to my daily habits, these places support them.
I’ve set the criteria for my IDEs as follows:
- Excellent wifi speeds for digital work (essential requirement)
- A forest, lake, or beach around for jogging/running (fuels my daily habit of jogging and the beach is my favorite place to go for a run)
- A good quality gym nearby for workouts (the best gym is the one closest to you)
- Availability of clean and fresh vegetables (places with abundance of organic vegetables or farmer markets)
- Where the foods you eat are affordable and high quality and natural protein and nutrient-rich – this includes seafood, tofu, and eggs (this aligns to my new pescetarian eating)
- Good cafes to work from at good prices (I prefer cafes run by local entrepreneurs over the Starbucks’ of the world)
- The people element – has existing or potentials friends and family-like people who can associate and hang out with but only when you want and only with those who fuel your growth or ideal days (People are good but you don’t need people who bring you down)
- Has clean air quality compared and is not extremely crowded (Personal wants after spending a lot of time in New Delhi)
- Has nature around or natural environments (preferably the sea) that can be reached quickly around – for example, every weekend or every other day
- It is easily reachable from Delhi and visa is not required or is on arrival and easy to get (essential requirements as I don’t want to break by habits streak due to visa requirements!)
I’ll take an example of Bangalore, India and Da Nang, Vietnam below to explain the difference in the 2 cities based on my IDE criteria:
|Parameters||Bangalore, India||Da Nang, Vietnam|
|Wifi||Excellent wifi with fibernet availability is mostly in offices, restaurants, cafes, coworking spaces||Excellent wifi speeds available almost everywhere from street food stalls to the beach, and everywhere in between.|
|Nature||Access to nature just outside the city and access to the beach on weekends||Rivers, hills and long sandy beaches available right within the city|
|Gyms||Huge network of gyms with fitness chains||Same standard of fitness centers like Bangalore available at 50% of the price|
|Vegetables||Grown using pesticides and most meals eating out could be considered “chemical thalis”. Special organic stores need to be searched for and trusted. Best to cook the vegetables well.||The default produce of fruits and vegetables is organic and eating out usually equates to eating healthy as food sources can be trusted. Can eat boiled or stir-fried vegetables without over-cooking.|
|Protein||Eggs are less nutritious, free-range eggs are more expensive, good tofu is more expensive, fresh seafood is rare, farmed fish available.||Very fresh seafood as it’s a coastal area specializing in seafood, tofu is the default food and high-quality, low-cost tofu is available everywhere, free-range eggs can be taken from the villages around for.|
|Cafes||The chains are good quality but expensive, the service is not ideal but manageable. Some independent cafes have great coffee.||The service is great with free green tea in all cafes, very good Vietnamese coffee at great prices available.|
|People||Mostly friendly but fixed mindset landlords, heavy-headed auto-drivers, some kind of anguish toward North Indians exists, crime is common. Cultural but hypocritical.||Extremely friendly, open-minded in many things however cultural where it matters, service is great, better treatment to foreigners, crime is almost non-existent.|
|Air||Usual Indian city standard average air quality, traffic is bad which worsens it, but much better than some other Indian cities.||The sea cleans the air apart from the fact that the city is much less crowded with less traffic. A river runs through the city which also cleans the air.|
|Visa||Not required||Low cost, On Arrival|
This is how I go about making a decision. It’s important to compare the factors that matter for you and not factors in general.
For instance, if someone is running a startup that needs access to physical resources, communities, and meetings, they would prefer Bangalore over Da Nang. But fortunately, I have no location dependency for resources which makes me free to consider other parameters that matter more to me.
When it comes to the cost of living, you should compare items you use daily and not just a general cost comparison index.
For example, beer is cheaper in Da Nang than Bangalore but if you need good quality wine, you would find more options at a better price in Bangalore over Da Nang. Again, these factors are not as important for me which is why you don’t see them in the list above.
Note that this is just a sample comparison but it’s real because I’ve lived in both places for enough time to be able to note these differences.
My current IDE is Hoi An, Vietnam until the month of March.
My next IDE is Mangalore, India from the month of April. It’s one of the most underrated digital nomad destinations with one the highest best (quality of life) : (cost of living) ratio.
Another IDE I loved was Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
I choose places which are not on the Nomadlists of the world as they’re crowded with co-working spaces and communities which I really don’t need at this point. I consider a place with local culture and the absense of international chains, international restaurants and international people a plus.
Here are some IDEs I’m considering for 2020 and I’ve explored these options in the past to shortlist them:
- Mangalore, India
- Cam Ranh, Vietnam
- Trang, Thailand
- Vung Tau, Vietnam
- Quang Ngai, Vietnam
- Chiang Rai, Thailand
I will keep updating my personal IDEs on this blog as I explore them. Meanwhile, I would recommend everyone reading this to design their own IDEs. And remember, you don’t need to go very far!