FREEDOMPRENEUR: Anjali of The LITMO Life

How many of you knew what you wanted to become early on in life?  In my case,  I must admit that becoming a lawyer wasn’t a dream of mine from the start.  My parents wanted me to become a doctor and throughout my childhood that was an idea that was ingrained at a very early age.  However, it turns out in life no one can dictate who you should be.  No matter how much you defer to people’s advise on how you wish to live your life as an adult, the answer never comes from the outside world.  It’s all within.

Fast forward to now, I still work as an advocate in the legal field and as much as I have enjoyed my time fighting for a cause I truly believe in (i.e., child protection), I have set my future goals to include spending time on the mountain trails and promoting my outdoors-focused social enterprise as I have explicitly shared with the world via this piece.  Another lesson learned – it is never too late to shift focus and pursue a new endeavor despite the illusion of fear that tells you otherwise.

I say all this as a way to introduce Anjali who initially started as a lawyer only to discover that her passion has more to do with freedom, flexibility and self-reliance.  Anjali bravely left her law firm job to venture out into the world on her own terms.

Brown Gal Trekker Meets Anjali

I met Anjali through a blogger networking group online.  However, before that meeting and by coincidence, I have read a powerful article written by Anjali on Washington Post that speaks to a specific female view on dating.  You can check out her thought-provoking article here.  Needless to say, the opportunity to feature her is yet another wonderful coincidence.

Anjali Sareen of The LITMO Life

Anjali Sareen was born in New Jersey (a fact she rarely shares with people) and grew up in Florida since age 2.  Anjali is currently in Cuba and was in Florida shortly before that.  She’s a freelance remote writer and lawyer that quit her traditional firm job so she could travel around the world full-time.  She writes for a few publications on the web and now she has her own fully remote law practice.

Tell us a little bit about your background and your 9 to 5 life.

I’m a former “traditional” lawyer that decided that living for the nights and weekends was utter bullshit. I grew up in an Indian family – my parents were both born and raised in India and came here in their twenties. They met and got married here, so my brother and sister and I were all born in the States. My childhood was great – my parents were the perfect mix of loving traditional and open hippie. They wanted us to get educations, and be good people, and live a good life, but they also encouraged us all to think for ourselves and carve our own paths and – most importantly – to question why we did things. It was that encouragement to question that led me to change my life.

What are your interests and passion in life?

Of course, traveling! But not just traveling for traveling’s sake – traveling to help make the world a smaller place, to help us realize that we’re all the same and that we should be loving and supporting each other at every turn – no matter our races, genders, sexuality preferences, socioeconomic status, or anything else. I’m also a writer and reader – on any given evening I can be found with a book or my journal in hand. Veganism isn’t just a passion of mine – it’s one of the things I believe most strongly in: living a life in which we behave the best we possibly can to all sentient beings, not just humans. And one of my truest loves is fitness – I’m a runner and CrossFitter and hiker. I find my bliss being active.

Tell us how you ended up with your 9 to 5 job and your thoughts about having that typical career.

I went to undergrad at NYU and graduated in 3 years. I wasn’t even 21 the day of my college graduation, since my birthday was a month later in June. I didn’t want to be in the real world. The honest answer is I went to law school because I was encouraged by my parents to get a professional degree and when I graduated college I didn’t want to grow up. So I thought more school was the answer! Not a very thoughtful path, I admit. I went to law school knowing I didn’t want to be a lawyer in a traditional setting – I just didn’t know what I actually did want to do and I chickened out of finding my passion – I took a set path. I didn’t like 9 to 5 life at all – I didn’t (for the most part) like other lawyers. I didn’t like the arrogance and assholery of the profession. I didn’t like that you were considered a shit lawyer if you didn’t give up your whole life for it. I did like my actual practice areas – intellectual property and animal rights – but not enough to keep me trapped in a firm.

As a lawyer myself, I can totally relate to the complexities of such a career – the attitude, the expectations and pressure.  How was the process like to quit something so stable?

Scary – but SO, SO exciting. Of course, you would expect that it would be kind of scary, but it was also very thrilling and freeing. I went into it with the mentality that even if I was going to be poor, at least I would be poor and free!

What made you decide to quit your 9 to 5 job?

The honest truth, which I talk about in my book “Quit Your Job and Travel The World” is that it was a few different things – I didn’t have ONE really big aha moment. But if I could pinpoint it, I would say after I got my tubes tied (I never wanted kids and always wanted the surgery!) I woke up and it hit me: who was I living this life for that I didn’t like? I didn’t want to get married again, I didn’t want to have kids…there was no one to worry about but me and my puppy! That sealed the deal for me to change my life.

Anjali will talk more about the book she wrote below.  Before that, I asked her about her current plans.

Indefinite travel until I get sick of it!

Anjali launched her enterprise called LITMO Life in May of 2016 when she made the decisionn to quit her job to travel full-time.  Here, she tells us more about it.

I run a travel blog at The LITMO Life. LITMO stands for “Live In The Moment Only” and it’s something my dad used to say to me when I was a kid. At the blog, I don’t just talk about traveling – I talk a lot about how to design a life that fits you so that you can help make the world a better place. I touch on everything from the best vegan snacks at airports to politics!

What is the mission for your enterprise?

I really want to help people – at the end of the day, if I can look back and say that I spent my entire life helping people, that would make me very happy.

What challenges have you faced thus far with your enterprise? How did you overcome them?

It’s hard to find the time to work on the blog when I’m also working a full-time job, that’s my biggest issue at the moment – finding time to work and travel and work on my love (the blog). That said, I’ve largely overcome that by waking up earlier! It sounds nuts, but I get up at 5am to work on the blog and other miscellaneous work like social media before I start my normal work day.

How do you balance traveling and working on your enterprise?

Very carefully! I make sure I schedule time for sightseeing a little every day and I get out into the local restaurants and coffee shops to meet people even while I’m working. It’s easy to get wrapped up in just wanting to work all the time and I try really hard not to do that.

Tell us about your traveling life. How did you become interested in traveling?

My parents were into traveling when I was kid and they are Indian. I grew up here in the States, but we traveled back and forth a lot to India when I was little and we would often make stopovers in Europe. I think I always had a desire to see the world – and I always thought there should be more to life than just a 9-5.

Who or what inspired you to travel?

I think the desire for a better life inspired me to travel. I say “better”, but I mean better for me – maybe just different for other people. Letting someone else dictate my time by going into an office every day at 9 am and leaving at 5 pm and only having time to “live” on the weekends wasn’t my idea of a full life. I thought there should be a better way to live, so I went in search of it.

How much did you travel before quitting your 9 to 5 job?

A bit, when I could, but not nearly enough! It’s hard to get away from the office as a young lawyer so I rarely did.

Where are you now? What’s your next stop?

Currently in my home town of Fort Myers, FL – I came home for a bit for the holidays and am about to head to Cuba next!

In terms of how she funds her travels, Anjali now works remotely as a lawyer while working on her writing projects which she discusses further below. But before moving on to that, Anjali shares with us her favorite places that she has been to thus far.

My favorite place in the entire world is Costa Rica. The country has no standing army – the abolished it in 1948 – and because of that, it truly feels like the most peaceful place in the world. The locals are incredible – open, welcoming, hospitable – and the lifestyle of “Pura Vida” really suits me.

In the Tabacon hot springs in La Fortuna:

On some of my domestic travels through the States, I picked up hiking as a free, easy thing to do in certain of the cities. One of my favorite hikes was up a mountain just outside Seattle – the weather was crisp and cool and getting to top just made me feel like I was on top of the world.

What have you discovered about yourself as part of this process?

That I can do anything! Hopping on a plane to a foreign country completely alone is exciting – but also scary! Getting there and realizing that I cannot only handle it, but that I’ll also have the time of my life, is something incredible.

Any regrets so far?

Not a “regret” so much as a wish – I wish I could travel and still be with my friends and family all the time. It is so nice to continually meet people and make more friends, but then, with full-time travel, you inevitably have to leave again and there are times you can’t be home for special events like birthdays and holidays. That’s the only thing I would change, if I could.

What’s the most courageous thing you’ve done as a traveler so far?

I don’t know about courageous, but I went boarding down a volcano in Nicaragua and that was pretty amazing. The volcano is called Cerro Negro and you hike all the way and sit on a sled to speed down. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life.

What advise do you have to those who are thinking of pursuing their passion?

DO IT! Today. Right now. This moment. Don’t wait until you are “ready” because you never will be ready, you just have to get up and go and the “readiness” will find you.

Did quitting the 9 to 5 kind of career and working for yourself turn out the way you envisioned it to be? 

Yes, 100%, but I think that is because I didn’t have many expectations. I believe expectations are the mother of disappointment so go in expecting nothing and hope for the best. If anything, all I envisioned was a life that was different than my old one – and I was really hoping it would be a better fit. And it really is. Sure there are some unexpected things along the way and some bad days, but every life has those. The freedom of working for myself and traveling the world is unbeatable.

Are you living a life with more freedom now than before?

Yes. Even though I am still working full-time, I work when I want, so little things like getting up when I want and taking a break when I want – those are really critical to a life full of freedom. I also not only have the freedom to travel the world, I have the freedom to go home any time I want – to spend more time with my family, which is really important to me

Anjali noted she will never go back to that 9 to 5 kind of world.  To be successful in sustaining a traveling lifestyle, she believes one needs to have the following:

Curiosity. Authenticity. Kindness.

When asked about her favorite quote to inspire her on her journeys, Anjali shares the following:

“When you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

It’s perfect and encapsulates this lifestyle completely – to find a life that’s truly a fit for you, you have to think outside the box of what everyone else tells you you should be doing. I also have a tattoo going down my ribs that says “Semper Ad Meliora” which means “always towards better things” in Latin.

You published a book as well called Quit Your Job & Travel the World:  The Complete Guide to Making Your Dream a Reality. What is the book about? 

It’s about how to live this lifestyle – or really, at the end of the day, about how to be more free. It guides people through the exact process of how to quit your job and travel the world, if that’s something you want to do. It’s chock full of resources to help guide you at every stop of your journey. 

What inspired you to write this?

I want to help people. I feel like we’re all too wrapped up in the idea of living the life that we think we should be living, not the life that we want to be living. It’s not hard to create this lifestyle, it just takes dedication and work, and anyone can do it.

How was the process like to publish a book?

It was fun! I wrote it like a banshee, working 13 hour days. Then I worked with several editors and graphic designer to make it look perfect, and I loved it.

What do you hope people will get out of the book?

I hope, at the very least, they will start to realize there are other ways they can live their lives and that they don’t need to do what people have always done or what people have always said. We’re here to design our own lives and live our own truths.

Do you have future publications that you are pursuing?

I actually just released my latest project – a travel journal just for the travel junkie! It has journaling prompts, inspirational quotes and places to jot down your own thoughts. Check out more information here.

To wrap things up, I asked Anjali the following questions. 

What do you miss the most with a traveling lifestyle?

CrossFit! Sounds crazy, but my scheduled fitness routine, along with the community and love I got from my gym, is something I miss every day.

Please describe the word FREEDOM.

Freedom means living and choosing your own adventure book – every moment of every day. Not in the evenings, not on the weekends, but EVERY moment.

Best food you’ve had on your travels?

A jackfruit taco in Vegas. I’m vegan, and I’m very easy to please – this taco was incredible!

Least favorite place you’ve been to.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The place was BEAUTIFUL – don’t get me wrong. Very gorgeous beach town! But so many people I met there just wanted to drink and drink and drink – not my vibe!

What’s your best travel tip?

Be authentic and radically honest – immediately, with everyone you meet. The only way to connect with people on the road is to be who you are and be open and accepting of who they are. The world is a beautiful place when we value each other more, and the only way to be that is to be who we are and building real connections immediately.

Thanks Anjali for sharing us your story!  You can follow Anjali via her website, The LITMO Life and Anjali Sareen and through social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube & Instagram.  You can also check out her new book, “Quit Your Job & Travel The World: The Complete Guide To Making Your Dream A Reality” via Amazon. 

If you know of someone who you think should be featured on FREEDOMPRENEURS SERIES (yourself included), you can find out more here.

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Brown Gal Trekker is a nomad at heart who survives the mountains to inspire others to trek them.