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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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How to Make a Major Life Decision in 9 Steps

Posted on January 12th, 2016

Earlier this year, I faced one of the harder decisions of my career to date.
 
I had spent weeks preparing an application, went through two rounds of interviews, and finally, after months of anticipation, received an offer to join the 2016 class of a prestigious business fellowship in Africa. I was one of a dozen selected from thousands of applicants. And in the end, I said no.
 
Even as I write this I still feel a tinge of regret. I mean, how could I say no to something that would have looked so good on my resume? And after all that work to finally get accepted? The network it would open up for me? The money?
 
Essentially my decision boiled down to a more important set of questions: Am I doing this because I really want to, or because it would look good? Am I doing this because I’m just too scared to say no?
 
Here’s a quick rundown of the strategies I used to find answers. Not only did they give me the confidence to turn down the fellowship, but they’re helpful for making a variety of major life decisions.
 
1. Try meditation.
 
For me, this involved 10 days of intense, silent meditation in rural India. But you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world for the same effects. Instead, set aside a quiet meditation space where you can listen to your heart. What does it communicate when it’s not panicked and inundated with other people’s ideas?
 
Temporarily removing yourself from all external stimuli and ideas of who you should be and what you should do allows you to access your own values and take ownership of the direction you want your life to take.
 
2. Monitor your physical reactions.
 
When I read the email offering me the fellowship, I immediately began to process it on an intellectual level. But then I took a step back to pay attention to the sensations in my body, an idea I learned in meditation. As it turns out, my mind was terribly confused, but my body had already given a clear answer.
 
When I thought about accepting the offer, all the muscles in my body became tense, but when I imagined saying no, I felt a physical wave of relief. By pausing to listen to the body, we can tap into our subconscious instincts about life.
 
3. Consider the best-case scenario.
 
We often envision the worst-case scenario before making a decision. But this line of thinking can quickly spiral out of control: “I should take this job because maybe another one won’t come along and then I’ll have a huge gap on my resume and I’ll never get hired again and will have to live in a van down by the river and then no one will ever love me and I’ll die alone with a lot of cats and chickens.” Oh, come on!
 
Instead of getting bogged down in theoretical disasters, I chose to envision the best-case scenario and make decisions based on that. This allowed me to make a decision unclouded by destructive, crippling doubt. Instead of the above, van-by-the-river scenario, when ruminating over whether to accept the fellowship offer, I thought the following: “If this opportunity came into my life, so will many others. My priority is to stay on purpose.”
 
I’m still figuring out what that purpose is, but I know this particular option isn’t it.
 
4. Avoid asking for direct advice.
 
Instead, I asked a few people close to me how they would make a decision like this, not what they would decide if they were me.
 
It’s an important distinction: I solicited frameworks of decision-making, rather than the decision itself. In the end, I needed to make the call because I was going to live with the consequences.
 
5. Cultivate an “abundance mentality."
 
We’re taught there are never enough jobs, resources, money, time and space. Instead of succumbing to this scarcity-driven mindset, tell yourself: “If I work as hard to secure the next opportunity as I did for this one, I’m bound to be successful.” Where there’s one opportunity, a dozen more await.
 
6. Analyze your tone.
 
When I listened to the voice in my head telling me to accept the fellowship, I heard empty justification. When I listened to the voice telling me to say no, I heard sincere conviction. Listen to the quality of your thoughts when decision-making. Sometimes, it’s just as important as the content.
 
7. Resist FOMO.
 
Ah, the epidemic of our generation. Pursuing things out of the “fear of missing out” is like taking medicine when you’re not even sick.
 
Life moves forward, not backward. Even if we miss out and feel regret, we have to keep moving forward. We can’t do everything that comes our way because we’re scared of what regret tastes like. Regret is part of life, and our life is finite. Choosing how we want to spend our days is an art we must all master.
 
8. Ask yourself: “Is this my exit?”
 
A friend put it this way: If you’re on the highway and the car in front of you takes the next exit, does that mean you also get off the highway? Of course not. You have your own destination, and you have to be clear-minded about where that is — or, at least, isn't.
 
9. Embrace your fears.
 
Sometimes you must identify what you fear and then proceed in that direction. In my case, accepting the job would have been the safe, easy thing to do on a short-term basis. Saying no to something I knew I only wanted for the wrong reasons was the riskier choice. But I’m convinced that's where the real opportunities lie.

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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

 

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

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Follow me on twitter

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