travel-money1

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.

As Seen On

Don’t Be Mediocre! 15 Ways to Nurture Greatness in Your 20s

Posted on November 22nd, 2014

My job can be miserably intimidating.

 

I work in emerging markets reporting and every day I sit interviewing some of the most interesting personalities in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mongolia, and South Africa, mesmerized by the stories of how these leaders enacted change in their country through business or politics.

 

And I usually feel about two feet tall.

 

Usually the guy in front of me, in addition to running his own Nigerian e-commerce business, is also launching a new app for transforming the hotel industry for all of Africa. Or he is casually raising 1.3 billion dollars in what will become the largest private equity investment in all of sub-Saharan Africa. No big deal.

 

IMG_2878a

Interviewing South Africa’s Minister of Health – and feeling pretty darn mediocre as he talks about fighting the world’s largest HIV/AIDS epidemic

 

That’s when I realize I spent my weekend traveling to a desert or drinking with friends – maybe I wrote an article or two if it was a productive Sunday – and I feel downright mediocre. Mediocre as in, I’m not pushing myself to the limits, I’m not reaching my potential, I’m not taking advantage of every opportunity I see or creating ones I don’t see. I’m becoming complacent. Mediocre = complacent. 

 

But then I get motivated.

 

Being “great” – enacting change in your community, extending your talents beyond your immediate environment, and providing inspiration and leadership to others – involves a lot of thinking, creating, and connecting. We are all capable of this kind of greatness, but achieving it is a mindset coupled with concrete action-steps.

 

 

10 SMALL STEPS TO REJECT MEDIOCRITY

 

1. Self-educate. One of most important things you can do to combat mediocrity in your life is to dedicate time daily to reading widely and reflecting on what you read. Devour fiction and non-fiction for 1-2 hours every night before bed. By replacing your phone or computer with books, you feed your brain while promoting relaxation and improving your sleep 

 
2. Keep a journal. Daily reflection and documentation of what you’re learning is an important part of enhancing the self-education process and ultimately promoting greatness. You must be keenly aware of what’s important to you and how your daily experiences are building you up for success. When you feel inspired, write down why you feel inspired; when you feel frustrated or dispassionate, write down why you feel frustrated or dispassionate. Try doing “morning pages,” or set aside time every night for updating your goals and reflecting on the day. Your journal should be the home for your thoughts and self-education.  

 
3. Save and invest your money. Great people make wise use of all the resources available to them, especially money. I once interviewed the President of an Ethiopian hedge fund who raised $1 million from scratch over a period of two years, created three new companies, and used the profits from those three companies to create two more. Great people also use money to buy experiences and make value-based investments in themselves and their relationships. They know that savings in the bank provides an increased level of freedom to be able to say “yes” or “no” to what best suits them in their personal and professional paths. Want to start your own business? Backpack through Asia? Spend more time with a sick parent? With savings, you can quit your job and do as you like. Without money, you are virtually shackled to whatever is keeping your head above water. 

 
4. Take a break from Facebook. Facebook breeds unproductive comparison-based jealousy and needless, superficial communication. If you’re going to be great, forget comparing yourself to your peers. You are your own success story and an hourly diet of what everybody else is doing can actually be harmful. A good starting point is to limit your daily usage by removing the app from your smartphone. This forces you to only use Facebook when you’re at your desktop. Then, when you are at your desktop, never keep Facebook open on another tab while you work, allowing the distracting purr of incoming messages, likes, and status updates to lure you away from your primary focus. Gradually ween yourself off this brain-drain tool, limiting usage to 15 minutes daily to check your inbox, say happy birthday to someone, leave a message, or post a status update.

 
5. Limit the amount of time you spend “going out.” The breed of “going out” I am referring to usually consists of bar-hopping, nonsense conversations hollered over deafeningly bad music, and drinking large volumes of alcohol – all transforming you into a mental vegetable the following day. “Going out” is normally a fixed part of the average twenty-something’s social diet, but it wastes money, limits your ability to have meaningful interactions with people, and renders you too hungover the next day to think, create, and connect – the three keys to combating mediocrity. 

 
6. Be an event socialite. Cash in on that time you used to spend “going out” and surfing Facebook to attend events where like-minded people will be hanging out. In fact, you should be searching for where the people you want to be in 5-10 years spend their time and join them, seeking out meaningful connections, friendships, and ideas. Great people have a large network and deliberately connect with people who understand and inspire them. They nurture those connections by being open, sharing with others, and actively looking for ways to help the people around them.  

 
7. Elevate the intellectual level of your daily conversations and the people with whom you surround yourself. Ever heard the phrase, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people?” Whenever you have an interaction with another person, focus on engaging on a personal level that extends beyond superficial, environment-based commentary and gossip. Use your time with others to develop and express opinions, form new ideas, and share what you’re reading and observing in society at large. Politely distance yourself from those who fall back on shallow conversation and do not intellectually and emotionally satisfy you.  

 
8. Discuss ideas, but always stay action-oriented. As important as it is to surround yourself with other inspiring and intelligent people, it is even more important to translate those resulting thoughts, ideas, and inspiration into concrete action. Dreamers are mediocre, too, unless their dreams are actually brought into being. This TED talk perfectly highlights the importance of your environment and the people around you in inspiring action-oriented behavior.  

 
9. Gain perspective from travel. Traveling in and of itself will not make you great, but it provides the perspective to help you overcome a closed, mediocre mindset. It becomes part of your self-reflection, expands and enriches your network, and breaks down ignorance. It improves your capacity for empathy, heightens your tolerance, helps you embrace uncertainty and discomfort, and entices your appetite for adventure in all areas of your life.  

 
10. Focus on what you don’t know. Great people realize that value-creation lies not in leveraging what you know, but about identifying your biggest areas of ignorance and treating those with self-education, open-minded conversations with people smarter than you, traveling widely, and living without the fear of discovering areas of even further ignorance to be addressed. 

 

5 LEAPS INTO GREATNESS

 

1. Work for yourself. At least once in your life, take the risk and the opportunity to work for yourself. Quit your job – with or without a plan (but with one is preferred) – and strike out in the world to see what capital value your skills, talents, and ideas can earn. One of my favorite examples is of my friends from Ethiopia, Madeleine Rosberg and Stephanie Persson, who are the founders of Responsify Africa. Madeleine has never worked for anyone else, and despite starting out with no previous experience in Africa, she and Stephanie created their own field of expertise through sheer time and hard work, and are now responsible for awakening their home country of Sweden to lucrative opportunities in East Africa’s manufacturing sector. 

 
2. Be aware of your creation vs. consumption ratio. Mediocre people consume; great people create. Mediocre people gain skills in order to transfer them around as their form of social and economic currency; great people develop an art and find a way to express themselves that also generates value in society for other people. Remember this distinction between skills and art and continuously ask yourself where is your art and your active contribution through self-expression? A great example of someone doing this is Vani Hari, aka Food Babe, who has channeled her passion for healthy eating into the creation of a blog and activist network that promotes transparent GMOs labeling and takes on the food industry with her Food Babe army. 

 
3. Have a central problem. Great people have a central problem statement at the core of their life activities. They don’t simply want to become great so they can bask in their inflated sense of self – they want to be great so they can make a great contribution to the most glaring area of inequality, inefficiency, or indecency they see in the world. One of my friends from university, Bill Bobbitt, is a star example of someone who has a central problem: a passion and dedication to the environment, which is one of the most important issues our generation faces in light of the blatant and unceasing degradation of our planet. His focus on this “central problem” has led him to create one of the hottest start-ups in America, Move Loot.  

 

4. Be less self-centered. When in doubt about where to channel your energy and passion, look for an opportunity to extend yourself far beyond your boundaries as an individual. Generosity and selflessness have been suffocated under our society’s intense individualistic nature, but studies show that people who work for the betterment of their communities are more satisfied with their personal and professional contributions than those who work tirelessly in pursuit of their own fame or fortune. When you’re lost, confused, depressed, or unfulfilled, GIVE of yourself.  

 
5. Focus on building character. A lot of self-help and pop psychology of this generation has focused on personality traits as the keys for “self-improvement,” but the real task of bettering yourself comes not from identifying the personality traits you want to express, but the values you want to live by. As Clayton Christensen writes about in How Will You Measure Your Life, character comes down to the HOW you live vs. WHAT you do. 

 

How will YOU live your life in your pursuit of greatness?

 

We_Have_Greatness_Within_Us_by_rvpdesignz

Photo credit: RVP Designz

 

How and where do you seek greatness? What do you do when you begin to feel just “medicore?”

 

Did you find this post helpful? Please share with your family and friends below!

Suggested Posts

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.

As Seen On

As Seen On

As Seen On

Sign Me Up

Sign Me Up
I'm planning something big! Stay in touch and be the first to know what I'm up to.

Sign me up

Location

Current Location

Map

Current Location

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

As Seen On

As Seen On

Sign Me Up

Sign Me Up
I'm planning something big! Stay in touch and be the first to know what I'm up to.

Sign Me Up

Current Location

Current Location

Map

Browse Articles

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