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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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Use This Trick to Look, Sound, and Feel More Successful

Posted on July 1st, 2016

Do you ever walk away from a conversation (or from stalking someone on the Internet) and think to yourself, “How does that person have it all figured it out?” Everything about them gives off the vibe of success — or imminent success. The public health undergraduate with experience in East African rural medicine, working at the intersection of IT and healthcare for a Fortune 500, and applying to top medical programs in her spare time. The public policy guru who just published her first book and is beginning her foreign service tour in Asia, all before the age of 27. 
 
Then there's you. You're working at a decent company in a job unrelated to what you studied, fantasizing over a job you're under-qualified for, and have no idea where you'll be in five years.
 
You're a tiny bit of a mess, aka. a perfectly normal twenty-something.
 
Actually, you're a smart, independent, interesting, job-and-degree-holding individual, still in the most upper echelon of people on Earth in terms of education and income.  
 
The question then becomes: what makes someone "successful" in our eyes, or at least appear successful? 
 
The truth is, these people are probably putting up a front, but that doesn't have to be something entirely negative. Let's explore.
 

We Have Been Trained to Define Ourselves

 
If you're like most high-achieving twenty-somethings, almost everything about your high school career was sculpted and polished for a college application. You took the right classes, were the captain of the right sports team, president of the right clubs, and painstakingly wrote the right “personal statement” to explain why, at 17, you had the vision of how everything you've ever done up until that point makes complete sense and brands you worthy of you studying economics at Cornell. Or whatever.
 
You breathed a giant sigh of relief when that university bought into your act.
 
Rewind and repeat. You probably spent four years of college grooming yourself into a neat little bundle of a double major, minor, related extracurriculars, internships, and research in the same field (and if they weren't, you made sure you figured out how you would explain why you spent a summer selling peanut butter in Guatemala when you were a Chinese major – my true story).  
 
The job interviews inevitably began “Tell me about yourself,” and you faithfully recounted your neat little story about your neat and sensible studies, interests, and projected career path.
 
You breathed a giant sigh of relief when that company bought into your act and gave you a job.  
 
But then what?
 
Maybe now you realize that your packaged stories, while certainly encompassing many of your real interests, were not completely, faithfully, and authentically you. You spent so long devising this plan to “make sense” and meet end goals (college admission, graduation, employment) that once the structure of high school, university, and entry-level jobs with clear-cut benchmarks disappeared, your self-identity became much less clear.  
 

Stuck in the Same Paradigm

 
It seems that the people who appear most successful are the people who are, whether they are aware of it or not, still applying this paradigm of telling a clean-cut story about who they are, what they are good at it, what they are interested in, and where they are going.
 
Our perception of other people's success is the result of an "angle": the perspective someone takes on themselves to subtly sell themselves to others (whether they intend to or not). This someone is doing “extracurriculars” in real life: probably running a small side business, leading a book club, training for a half marathon, and studying for the GMAT. Because this is how we perceived success for so long, the people still using this formula come off as more successful. 
 
Next time you walk away from an interaction with someone with a feeling of admiration, or even creeping jealousy, try to identify what about that person made them seem so successful. It probably has more to do with how they presented themselves, how they talked about what they've done, and how confident they were about their next steps. They had the angle, right?
 

Use the Angle for Good, Not Evil

 
Although having an “angle” might be the product of an old paradigm developed during our years of faithful millennial hoop-jumping, it can still be applied productively to help us take a step back, assess our story, enhance our self-confidence – and appear “successful” to others, too.
 
As much as I write about pursuing unconventional ideas about success, there's a very practical, social need to communicate in a way that reaches all the "conventional beings" and makes us feel good, too. There's nothing wrong with that.
 
So take a moment to take inventory of what you are most proud of, what you'd like to achieve next, and one thing you are actively doing to get there. Being able to articulate and share with others where you are and where you'd like to go is not only tremendously useful for doing well in school and getting jobs in a society that values this kind of “story-telling,” but it can also be subtly incorporated into social settings to have a positive impact on how others perceive you. 
 

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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