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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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Is This Addiction Preventing You from Discovering Your True Calling? Thoughts on the Relationship between Education and Accomplishment

Posted on March 7th, 2016

I recently spent 10 days in silence in India, studying Vipassana meditation. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like 120 hours inside your own head to start seeing the world from an entirely new perspective.

In Vipassana, we observe our bodily sensations with an equanimous mind, teaching ourselves not to entertain feelings of craving or aversion, which are the default settings of reactionary human behavior. Because every experience in our lives creates sensations, we essentially live in a constant state of craving pleasant sensations or hating unpleasant ones, a road never leading to peace, compassion, and enlightenment — unless we use meditation to reprogram our mind-body relationship.

Like everything in my life, meditation was, at first, a game: I wanted to be good at it. I wanted to “win.” When my mind was quiet, I was so pleased with myself. When my mind was a hurricane and I couldn’t sit still for more than ten minutes, I felt miserable.

While of course completely counterproductive to the higher goals of meditation, it’s just what I had been doing my whole life: winning, performing, being good at stuff. Being good leads to being recognized and admired, and society has taught me that this is important. Being good also generates pleasant sensations and my mind begins to crave those sensations, so it does whatever it takes to be good at anything to experience those sensations — sort of like a drug addict.

And so I began to think about my education. I realized that whether it’s a conscious or unconscious byproduct, school presents us with hoop after hoop to jump through. If we make it through the history hoop, we get an A, and we feel good. We like feeling good, so we want to do it again. If we make it through the Spanish hoop, we get another A, and we feel good. Eventually, we lose sight of what we are doing and learning and will do anything as long as we can be good at it. (How much European history do you actually remember from high school? Probably not much if you got an A. I’m guessing you were too busy being good at it to actually digest the information.)

We become addicts to the feeling of accomplishment, and ignorant of the medium we use to get it. We never learn to exercise the discernment of thinking, “Should I be good at this? Or should I be good at something else? I can’t be good at everything, that’s not natural. I will have my natural gifts and my natural difficulties. Isn’t there value in failing in some areas?”

This whole methodology of rewarding the over-achiever, the straight A student, the student who never reveals (or never actually understands) his natural gifts and natural difficulties, although probably not intentional, is very convenient for preparing a obedient workforce. There’s no time to ask what’s right or to question the dimensions of participation, only the lurking incentive of continuously being good at something, being rewarded and experiencing those pleasant sensations of accomplishment. In this way, we never discover our true gifts because we had to be good at everything. We never fail and learn to be okay with it. We just follow the carrot and the paycheck.

I’m not calling for an overhaul of the mainstream education system or offering any practical solution to this challenge. I’m simply sharing what I’ve observed about my own educational experience and that of many of my twenty-something peers. And I’m calling us to recognize how this phenomena of “being good at stuff” influences our lives, goals, and intentions in the world.

Are you on a path right now simply because you’re good at it? Are you addicted to the feeling of accomplishment and this is the path of least resistance to achieving it? Are you unaware of your natural talents and passions? It could be because you were good (enough) at everything. You jumped through all the hoops. You enjoyed the recognition, the admiration from parents, educators, peers, and society. But perhaps now you’re lost. And you’re not alone.

Observing this is the first, critically important step. Break your addiction to accomplishment for accomplishment’s sake. Get on your path of true purpose and don’t get distracted. Don’t “perform” your way through life, and don’t do things for the sake of recognition. Do things because they resonate with your gifts and values. Do things because they allow you to fall flat on your face and not care. Do thing because you’ve thought deeply and independently about them. Do things because they allow you to share, love, and grow.

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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?

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?

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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