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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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Confessions From Someone Who Looks Like She Has Her Shit Together (And How to Actually Pull It Together When You Feel Lost and Hopeless)

Posted on April 4th, 2017

If you’re a frequent reader, you may have noticed I’ve taken a long break of silence for the past month. The truth is, I’ve been going through a crisis of my own and it seemed ironic to write anything where it seemed like I knew what I was talking about during a time when I’d lost all sense of that.
 
So what have I been struggling with? For starters, I’ve been completely mentally consumed by work — I’m guessing you’ve been there at some point, too. It’s incredibly frustrating to see that with less than six months back in a competitive corporate environment I’m unable to maintain sufficient reserves of creative and independent energy in order to write, read, or think deeply or critically. My thoughts have become consumed by replaying in-office scenarios and frustrations, thinking about what I have to do tomorrow, or wondering what my neck is on the line for this week. To me, as important as “work-life balance” from a time standpoint (Am I in the office until 9pm?) is “work-life balance” from a mental energy perspective (Am I out of the office but still thinking about work at 9pm?). I’m still figuring out how to combat this in order to be able to simultaneously grow and invest in my international business career while maintaining sufficient levels of personal growth and development. 
 
I’ve also been struggling for the past year with knowing that I’m on the cusp of a radical career transformation, but not knowing what form that should take. I’m torn between my love of this nomadic, minimalist life I’ve been living for the past four years and a strong urge to root myself down back home in the US. I’m torn between wanting to start a relationship and enjoying my singlehood, between wanting to work for exciting businesses and living a simple life, between wild excitement and lingering loneliness, and between enjoying the present and fearing for the future.
 
Finally I sat down the other day and just lost it. I let myself feel hopeless about finding a sustainable lifestyle and career that will actually build a future for me. I let myself doubt all my talents, swallow up the last of my self-worth, feel like a failure in my current role, and be confused about what I actually want to do next. None of this was accomplished without also shaming myself for worrying about this when I’m currently living in Australia, working for a prestigious company, learning a lot about myself professionally, and knowing I’ve been dealt a very, very good hand in life. 
 
The reason I’ve sat down to write again for the first time in a month is that, first of all, like I always do, I’m writing to myself. I’m telling myself what I need to hear. And in doing that, I know some of this is going to help someone else because human experience is largely universal. And second of all, I’ve taken some steps to help myself feel less hopeless and to see a viable change in sight, and I think those same measures can help others like me, too.
 
1. I vented it all out.
 
My poor friends. I think I’ve complained more about work and feeling directionlessness in the past few months than ever before, but it really helped just to be heard. 
 
Up until a point. Then I realized I need to stop complaining and worrying and stressing and just starting putting one foot in front of the other to make change happen. But first, sometimes you just need to know you’re not alone and get a big sympathetic hug from someone you’re able to confide in. 
 
2. I forced myself to focus on improving my “work-life mental energy balance.”
 
In order to get to a point where I felt like I could make some change, I needed time and, more importantly, a mental reserve. I had become too strung out, too tired, too focused on the wrong things, so I started by forcing myself to stop thinking about work when I wasn’t on the clock. I went back to doing yoga in the mornings before work. I tried to find just five minutes for meditation and daily affirmations. I blew off non-essential social time in favor of extra sleep and reflection. I took back control over my technology use (putting the phone on airplane mode for the first and last hours of the day, not texting in the car, going for long mind-clearing walks without my phone). I picked up a good book (I started with The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron but here's a good list of inspirational books to work with). It's all slowly starting to help. I feel myself coming back down to Earth, settling back into my own body, and getting positive, creative juices flowing again. 
 
3. I sat down and dedicated time to finding a solution to my mess.
 
Once I recuperated some physical and mental reserves, I set aside some time to dig through the heap of garbage that had piled up in my head (all the worries, fears, negative self-talk) and look for the gems (ideas, inklings, and inspiration). This came in two parts. Part one involved sitting on the beach for a long time without my phone and staring into space and asking myself what the hell I’m doing with my life, part two involved sitting down and going down the rabbit hole of the internet with my ideas, linklings, and inspiration. It’s amazing what a few hours of Google searching like a maniac can teach you. There’s so much out there! There’s so many people doing so many things! There are so many jobs! There are so many ways to live! Fear not, whatever you’re interested in, somebody is out there doing it.
 
4. I made a big list. 
 
Googling your way down into the bowels of the Internet is only as good as it’s productive, so I started making a list of everything I’m interested in with this rule: no bad ideas, no self censorship. To give you a random selection of what’s now on my list: therapy, non-teaching careers in education, anthropology, creating community and experiences, becoming a real estate agent, recruiting, experiential learning, starting a travel agency, and contract jobs for the UN. Some of this is very unlikely to yield a new path for me, but it all triggered some level of interest so wrote it down anyway, organized it in a way that inspired and not overwhelmed me, and found time to explore each of those inklings with purpose.
 
5. I asked for help.
 
What do I mean by exploring with purpose? That means allocating one hour of time to research each of these areas, stalk people I know (and don’t know) in that field, scribble down potential contacts, and flesh out ideas. It’s a lot of sitting in front of Google with a moleskin and taking notes on whatever excites me that I find relevant to that topic.
 
Once that’s done, I do the most helpful, productive, and reassuring part of the process: I ask for help. So this week I’ve been going back through my research and writing thoughtfully to at least one person in each of my areas of interest, trying to either get them on the phone for 15 minutes or get answers to 2-3 critical questions I have about their path via email. I’m also seeing if they’re able to connect me with someone else they know in that field so I can keep expanding my network and gathering more information.
 
I’ve used this technique for years and find that people really want to help once they see that I’m genuinely curious about what they do. Speaking to a real person who does something I might want to do is also infinitely reassuring. It helps me go, “Okay, here’s a real human who does this, so it’s definitely achievable. Now does it sound interesting to me? If so, here’s someone who can give me some insight on how to do it myself.”
 
With just these initial steps, I’ve already felt a lot calmer and happier when gazing into the future. Please feel free to write to me (elaina@lifebefore30.com) and share your own story about getting your shit together, figuring out next steps in the middle of a critical life or career transformation, or improving your day-to-day quality of life when work suddenly becomes all-consuming. 
 
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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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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.

 

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

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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

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Follow me on twitter

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