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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Are You Perpetually Productive?

Posted on November 10th, 2015

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” – John Wooden

 

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For the past week, I’ve been living in a jungle bungalow in southern Thailand, steps from the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. There’s not much to do except sit in the sand, watch the sun’s daily acrobatics, and feed myself astonishing volumes of coconut shake, fresh mango, and green curry.

 

But actually? I’ve never been busier. I’m a beach busy-body! I organize my coaching sessions over breakfast, have a strict reading regimen for my hours of afternoon sun-worshiping, and hold Skype sessions with clients right before my Irish-German blood turns me into a full-on tomato. Then I head over to a special viewpoint for my daily sunset ritual, followed by dinner and article writing until I free myself up for a bit more reading on the balcony before bed. “What a productive day,” I sigh and congratulate myself before slipping off to have some hopefully enlightening and productive dreams.

 

I knew I may have been doing things wrong when I caught myself scribbling “go to the beach and watch the stars” on my to-do list the other day. No, no, no, not okay. That’s when I realized this was becoming a continuation of my life as a full-time workaholic. It’s a disease I caught back in high school, or maybe even middle school, as I jockeyed for first place in every thing I did. Sure, that ruthless hard work paid off, but isn’t there supposed to be time to enjoy it? Aren’t we called human beings, not human doings? Where is the time to just be? Is it socially acceptable to even mull over the possibility of having an idle moment?

 

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My “office” in Tonsai Bay, Thailand

 

It’s been a struggle I’ve found especially trying over the past three months as I balance traveling full-time with running my side business and supporting a new life on the road. But it applies just as well to my life back in New York as a management consultant, or when I was working in a variety of countries during the past two years, or even way back when as a bright-eyed university student: I can’t sit still. I’ve never been able to, and this stubborn restlessness will gnaw at me forever if I don’t consciously tackle it with the same gusto I use to check off every item on my to-do list.

 

As busy as I still stay on the road, I have to admit that traveling has somewhat helped this affliction. For example, one of the things I note in almost every country I visit is the remarkable phenomenon of people sitting and, as it appears to the naked eye, doing nothing. Sometimes they’re smoking a cigarette or talking to a neighbor, maybe standing and holding a baby to mix things up, but ultimately, they’re just kind of loitering about, alive and well. And it blows my mind. What are they doing? I wondered to myself the first time I saw this on a widespread scale (I think I was in Nigeria at the time). How can they just…be?

 

I noticed it again when I was on a six-hour bus ride across northern Laos last month. I was one of three foreigners among several dozen locals (and two chickens) headed to a beautiful little town called Nong Khiaw, and you know what the locals did the entire ride there? They sat. A little bit of idle chatter, a little bit of napping, but mostly they just sat. What did the three foreigners do, you ask? Ipods, music, earphones, books, kindles, cameras, journals, pens, snacks. We stayed busy. Busy and productive.

 

The good news is, these days I at least catch myself being a productivity monkey and silently admonish my old habits. I’m aware, which is a huge head start over the rest of our busy-body population, and I’m trying to incorporate moments of purposeful purposelessness into my every day routine. Someday they will become natural, unscheduled, and impulsive fits of idleness, perfectly impromptu sojourns into just being.

 

But for now, I have to stay mindful of the value of spending time without an agenda, of getting lost in thought, in sitting and staring at each other, of simply existing as our ancestors existed and as all our children and children’s children will exist. These moments of spontaneous reprieve allow us to reflect, to center ourselves, and to allow for serendipity to seep in through the cracks in our agenda. They provide space for creativity to brew and for life to instinctively unfold, joyously unanticipated, unhurried, and unscripted.

 

As Paulo Coelho writes in Warrior of the Light, “The Warrior of the Light knows that in the silence of his heart he will hear an order that will guide him.”

 

How do you know what you’re doing is actually what you’re supposed to be doing if you don’t take time to think about all of it? Akin to a warrior resting between battles, we cannot always be “at battle” in life; we need moments of peace and idleness to restore our energy and our capacity to be our best and truest selves.

 

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Just being, in the Phi Phi islands, Thailand

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

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Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

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Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

Instagram

Elaina on Instagram