A healthy dose of pessimism will make you a successful nomad. Pessimism, in the right amount, is more useful than unlimited optimism.
Want to know how?
Healthy Pessimism For A Nomad
When you take off cruising or trade in your dirt house for an RV or camper van, you lose a lot of control.
Yes, I know that much of the lure of the nomad life is to control your own destiny. To no longer be stuck in the routines that others can’t escape.
But control is an illusion when you’re on a tiny vessel in the middle of the ocean with a squall approaching. Or when you’re set up to boondock in a national forest hours before a wildfire strikes nearby.
Learning how little control you actually have over your daily existence will make even the most cheery person more of a pessimist. And that’s not a bad thing.
Because a healthy dose of pessimism helps you prepare. And you can’t ask for more than being well prepared when a disaster (or even mini-disaster) strikes.
Healthy Pessimism At Work
Are you an independently wealthy nomad? Then you don’t need to read this section.
But for the rest of us, who work underway, a healthy dose of pessimism helps keep our work lives under control.
Procrastinator or optimist?
When I lived in a dirt house, I procrastinated all the time. I needed the pressure of a deadline to get stuff done.
But that bad habit disappeared when I moved onto a boat.
I could no longer assume that I’d be able to do my work at the last minute. What if a storm came up? How about if I failed to get decent internet from my wifi hotspot? What if my computer suddenly crashed?
Yes, all of these things have happened and threatened my ability to work.
My husband has not yet developed a healthy amount of pessimism. That’s why he lost a ton of work when the computer he had failed to back up for over a month got fried by an electrical surge.
I still don’t know if he was just procrastinating when he failed to back up his computer? Or just being an optimist.
A pessimist’s work tools
When my computer crashed, I was able to complete my work that day.
I had saved all my passwords and forwarded them in a password-protected file to my sister and my husband. I work every day so I don’t fall too far behind if something unexpected happens. And I bought a keyboard for my iPad so I’d have a backup.
Was it easy to do my work on my husband’s PC when my MacBook failed? Nope. But it was possible.
Healthy Pessimism In An Emergency
Do it when you can do it. Don’t assume you’ll be able to do it later.
Whatever “it” is, this is healthy pessimism in action.
I don’t like to see our diesel tank get below half full. I charge all my devices and wifi hotspot to full every day. We always have spares for any part we’re likely to have to replace.
I don’t assume that there will be fuel at our next stop. That we’ll be able to charge things at the next marina. Or that the impeller won’t come out of the box with a flaw.
Even when I’ve been at a marina for a month at a time, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to find the electricity not working on the dock.
Apparently, the electricity in our dock had not yet been upgraded. So with an exceptionally high tide threatening the wires under the dock, the staff turned the power off.
Good thing I charged my computer before I went to bed.
When a real emergency happens, like when our propeller loses a blade as we’re exiting a narrow canal, we’re ready for it. The wifi hotspot and radio are fully charged. The anchor is ready to be deployed.
Now it’s no longer an emergency. It’s just a pain in the a$$.
Healthy Pessimism In A Relationship
An interviewer asked a divorce attorney, “What’s the secret to a long-lasting marriage?”
The reply? “Low expectations.”
The interviewer thought it was a horrible answer. But I’ve remembered it for years. And I think he was right.
Let’s face it. No one can live up to the expectations of a partner who hopes to find every wish fulfilled by their spouse.
And if you’re expectations are low, you can be open to seeing who your partner truly is and not just who you hope they’ll be for you.
As one insightful author noted, “expectations are the enemy of love.”
What does this have to do with healthy pessimism?
Well, how would your relationship change if you pessimistically expected your partner to be stressed in poor conditions? If your pessimism assumed that they’d get angry when things went wrong?
And if they respond better than your pessimistic little mind expects, how much better is that?
Balancing Optimism And Pessimism
If you wake up every day dreading everything that could go wrong, you won’t be very happy. And it takes optimism to set out on a new, nomadic life to begin with.
How do you create a balance?
Be pessimistic enough that you’re always prepared in case the worst happens. And optimistic enough to believe that no matter what, you’ll figure out a solution.