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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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What I’ve Learned During My First Two Months Freelancing in Berlin

Posted on August 2nd, 2017

There was a comical moment when I came back to Berlin to start freelancing again and said to my best friend, “Am I going to be bored?” Coming from a serious office job, it all seemed so scary (even though I spent 14 months freelancing and traveling in 2015): hustling for every dollar, wide open days without a schedule, no direction from someone else. Would I find meaning in this? Would I be fulfilled working on my own little projects? Would I be able to eat? 

 

In just two weeks, I was so busy and suffering from exhaustion from the combination of getting back into the self-employed hustle and, naturally, Berlin itself. In a few more weeks, I was making enough money to fully support myself in my favorite city in the world and taking conscious care of my overall well-being.

 

I was also working more hours than I ever worked in a corporate job, but being able to work from 11am-4pm in a cafe, then meet a friend in the evening, and then work again from 9pm-2am at home was the kind of schedule I could get behind. I could fit my income-generating time around my LIFE, not the other way around. I could also work when I felt inspired and optimize my output per hour by finding this flow.  

 

In the past six weeks, I’ve seen how God, the universe, whatever you want to call it, rewards the risk-takers. Leaving a stable, well-paid job to pursue freelance writing full-time is pretty much insanity, but the money came right when I needed it. It always has and I trust that it always will. And when it doesn’t, I’ll either a) cope or b) pivot in a different direction.

 

I read a quote this month that really helped put me in the right mindset for this new adventure. It went something like, “Do what works. When it doesn’t work anymore, change.”

 

So I’m looking at my life right now and not trying to think about whether or not what I’m doing now is going to affect my life for the better or worse five, ten years from now, but I’m looking at it like: This works now. Great. I’m going to keep doing it because I enjoy it and it’s somehow all coming together. When it stops working, I’ll figure it out, but there’s no use stressing about that now.

 

And what’s working is to keep creating. The more I create, the more it’s spreading and the more opportunities I’m getting. People are finding me and wanting to work with me. I’m doing my best work for the clients I have in both the writing and coaching domains and those satisfied people are bringing me more work. I’m pitching to more well-known publications, doing my best work, and getting my words read by larger audiences. It’s this huge positive feedback cycle and I find as soon as I sit and focus on my own creative work, it pays dividends.

 

Granted, there’s been disappointments too. I landed some big publicity this month but I also spent hours working on pieces that were commissioned and then rejected. I pitched new clients and they said no, expecting me to work for free. 

 

Thankfully I have savings from my last job at Uber, which keeps me from feeling desperate about money, a huge factor that allows me to weather the ups and downs and keep me in a relaxed state of creative flow. Of course I want to (at least) break even every month, and by all kinds of miracles I did that during these past two months, but if I don’t, I’ve set myself up to be my own investor and keep my life afloat. When used like this, money is freedom.

 

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Berlin has also been a mistress of inspiration for me, as always. I’ve met countless entrepreneurs, nomads, freelancers, artists, and freaks who call the most eccentric city in the world home. I volunteered at the largest start-up festival in Europe, Tech Open Air, and saw the Head of Design of Google Search, the Founder of Ethereum, and the CEOs of dozens of other companies speak. I attended art exhibitions, worked in inspiring co-working spaces, and participated in multiple free workshops. I even hosted a seminar on creativity in my living room — and people came!

 

The low cost of living (I can average $1,000 per month here for rent and living expenses) lets people work less or do work that doesn’t pay a lot, but is stuff they actually really like and is interesting and valuable to society. There’s a non-materialistic culture and friends meet every night of the week to sit in the park or buy a $2 beer and sit by the canal. People are conscious consumers: you won’t find Starbucks or McDonalds in too many places in Berlin. People shop cheap vintage, support small businesses, buy organic, recycle impeccably, and spend loads of time together instead of surfing social media. You can find a thousand of young people dancing in Berghain on Monday morning because they don’t have to report to a desk job in a few hours: they are free. Berlin has made us free.

 

There’s a reason why I ran to Berlin to resume my freelancing work: because no one asks “what do you do?” the minute you meet. People don’t define themselves by their work. You’re expected to support yourself, naturally, but everyone is basically piecing together various income streams and experimenting with art and ideas. If I had to face the judgmental Silicon Valley crowd at a bar in downtown SF every weekend and explain that I’m a writer, blogger, and coach but I’m still figuring it all out, I might not survive. You say that at a club in Berlin and people are like “yeah me too!”

 

I’ll stop gushing about Berlin now, but there’s a reason I tell you all this: because environment is so important. When you’re making a big change in your life, you want to be supported. And you need to be somewhere where you can feel the small victories. You can also bring some of these Berlin-type characteristics into your life if you’re freelancing or hustling in the US: consume less, spend more time with inspiring people, find your tribe, engage, create, and lower your cost of living to make room for work you want to be doing.

 

Here’s a few of the other lessons I want you to take away from what I’m learning as I re-enter the independent worker/nomad/self-employed hustler space:

 

  • Whatever you’re doing in life, you don’t need to know where it’s going. Just believe in it. Opportunities will come up and the net will appear. You just have to leap. 
  • Don’t worry about 5 years from now. Do what works now. Your path will evolve naturally. 
  • Look at what you can do. If you can write, don’t look at how many other writers are out there and wonder about if you should write, just write. If you can start a small business walking dogs (and you want to), do it. If you can start a women’s circle, start it. If you want to paint, paint. Stop second-guessing and start doing what’s within your reach.
  • Start with what’s available. Photograph your friends to build a portfolio, use your living room to host a workshop, start with the $1,000 capital you do have, build your own website, hire a friend to make your launch video, etc. It may not be the perfect solution, but it’s the one that’s accessible and will get you to the next step. 
  • Creativity can be exercised in every aspect of your life. Being creative just means doing things differently.

 

And remember: “Do what works. When it doesn’t work anymore, change.”

 

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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

 

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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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