If you ask Johnny FD, 2013 was the year that changed his life.
Five years earlier, he’d left behind a soul-sucking 9-5 in California to move to Thailand and teach scuba diving. One thing led to another, and after a stint Muy Thai fighting for extra cash, he set up his own entrepreneurial venture.
This year, between blogging, writing books about living in Thailand and earning money, conducting online courses, investing, and running a drop-shipping business, the 35-year-old is on track to earn more than $250,000.
The money is nice. However, he said, much of his success can be traced back to a goal he set in 2013 that has nothing to do with dollars and cents: get six-pack abs.
“I was down to my last couple hundred dollars and knew I’d probably have to go back home and get normal job,” he told Business Insider. “I thought if I go home empty-handed, this whole trip would have been a failure. Yes, I would have had an amazing time, but I would be in my 30s, broke, out of shape, and have nothing to show for it. I thought to myself: If I can go home in the best shape of my life, then nothing else really matters. At least I met one goal.”
He realised, in trying to achieve his fitness goal, that he wanted access to the best trainers and coaches, and to “not worry about how much a side of avocado costs.”
Which meant he needed to start earning more money.
So he repackaged his blog into “12 Weeks in Thailand: The Good Life on the Cheap,” which made $600 in its first month on sale. “After I wrote that book, I wanted to find out how to sell more,” he previously told Business Insider. “I started meeting all these people doing internet marketing that happened to be travelling or living in Chiang Mai. I had no idea there was this underground community of digital nomads. It was kind of just emerging, and I would meet whoever I could and ask if I could take them to dinner or coffee and pick their brain.”
Life in Thailand was starting to look entirely different. “When you’re in shape, eating healthy, and exercising, you have so much mental clarity and much more energy to get stuff done,” he said.
Now, he’s begun pursuing monetary goals. And the abs? “Some people say I got a six pack — it depends on which photo you look at,” FD said. “I definitely hit the goal of being in the best shape of my life.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.