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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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My Favorite Little Insight on Change

Posted on September 30th, 2016

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Photo credit: Billepperhart.com

 
If you’re a regular reader here at Life Before 30, you’ll notice a few common themes running through the blog: identifying meaningful career and living opportunities, finding purpose and direction, embracing travel, adventure, and play, and mastering the art of change and self-evolution. Today’s topic falls in the last category: I want to share an insight that’s changing everything about how I enact change. 
 
Personally, I have a huge appetite for change. I’d rank high in the personality type for “openness,” which describes people who hunger for new experiences. I travel constantly, read psychology and self-development books by the pile, and write non-stop about ways to improve myself, my peers, and society at large. And I’m still trying to work out the balance between accepting myself and things exactly as they are and honoring this compulsion to transform others and be transformed myself. (No clear answers there, my friends.)
 
Items on my present “to-change” list include re-centering my worldview around thinking versus judging, becoming more generous, turning vegetarian, and re-building my self-esteem in my post-scholastic era (no more classrooms, no more grades, no more easy benchmarks for success — a challenge for many fellow millennials feeling purposeless and unsure as adults). 
 
In essence, I have lots of work to do. Let’s take a straightforward example: thinking versus judging. For example, I recently met a couple at Burning Man who described themselves as having open marriage. As liberal as I am, I just hadn't come across that before, so I hadn't made up my mind about it. And what I noticed is that when I haven't really thought about something, my gut reaction leads me to be judgmental. I define judgemental as developing ideas based on emotion, isolated personal experiences, cultural upbringing, and one's subconscious. I define thoughtful as developing ideas based on asking questions, reviewing research from expert sources, listening to opposing opinions for an extended period of time, and dedicated individual contemplation: What would it be like to experience this idea? How would I operate in that kind of situation? What can I learn from this new idea? To me, this is true thought and what I’m striving to do more often.
 
Nevertheless, it’s hard for me and hard for many people to resit the urge to come up with a quick assessment of other people or their ideas based on instinct or emotion. It seems natural, and the pressure to maintain fluid social interactions and to always have an opinion about something (strong in American culture) plays a large role. 
 
What I’ve learned is actually taught by Dr. Carol Dweck, author of Mindset, one of the most profound books on social psychology in the past several decades. Dweck touches very briefly on this concept in her book, but I wanted to elaborate on it since it’s such a critical lesson for us. She says, change is not surgery. You don’t immediately excise certain behaviors and thought patterns from your mind when you embark on change. Instead, you just create alternatives. You learn that another way is possible
 
Most of think we’ve changed when we’ve gotten this far, when we open up to the possibilities, get motivated, and decide “Okay, I’m going to be like that from now on.” But an intellectual understanding is only superficial, and inevitably we default to our old patterns because those are what’s ingrained in us by experience. Then, naturally, we feel defeated and don’t continue to work towards change. 
 
Dweck says, change really happens as we:
 
1) Understand that new behaviors are possible and construct those initial alternative pathways, 
2) Consciously entertain both ways of behaving (the old and the new) every time a challenging situation arises, 
3) Practice choosing the new way, 
4) Slowly witness the new way becoming stronger, and 
5) Are finally able to transition to making the new way the default way. 
 
For me this was a huge insight. When it comes to thinking versus judging, I can’t assume I’ll be able to immediately override my instinct to judge and consider every new idea with my ideal definition of well-contemplated thought. I have to first remember that I have a choice when it comes to processing new information and make a conscious effort to choose the new behavior over and over and over again.
 
I have to also make a conscious effort to not get discouraged when my tendency to judge comes back — because the old pattern has not been surgically removed. It simply co-exists with the new things I’m practicing and requires me to feed and strengthen it time after time.
 
Change becomes effective when you treat it as a cycle of reinforced choice, not a permanent shift or a removal of old behaviors. You're not writing over all your old scripts, you're creating brand new options that will compete with the old ones. And it's up to you who wins, each and every time.

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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

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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Elaina on Instagram