“Don’t add days to your life, add life to your days.”
That’s the quote I think about when I have big decisions to make, like when I realized that my corporate lifestyle was not bringing me the happiness I expected. Of course, I didn’t know this about myself before I ditched corporate life for the life of a digital nomad.
You know the story. I felt like I had to climb the corporate ladder, get the recognition, land the corner office and reap the benefits. It’s not that I was unhappy in that environment, but it just didn’t make sense.
When I worked at L’Oréal, my favorite parts of the job were not the actual work. My favorite parts were traveling, learning and meeting new people. I was fortunate to have a role that had me go on many trips to interesting places like Paris and San Francisco, but that didn’t erase the soul-sucking feeling of corporate life.
There’s an immense pressure from society that we have to like what we do. At the same time, there are people that just exchange work for money.
At LeadWise, we want to encourage leaders to create work environments that inspire people to like work AND life. Finding meaning is crucial to being happy and feeling fulfilled.
I don’t think it’s possible to disconnect work and life. You can’t be two people, one version of yourself in the office and another version of yourself on the weekends. We, as a global society, have to move away from this approach to life because it’s not sustainable.
Making the jump from the classic corporate life to the digital nomad life was not easy, and co-leading a team while working remotely brings its own challenges.
In this post, I want to share how we make it work at LeadWise, and why having a completely remote team is a better option than ever for the businesses of today.
On the surface, the life of a digital nomad seems easy.
You can go wherever you want, whenever you want as long as you have internet connection, right?
I can’t say enough positive things about remote work, but like anything good in life, it requires hard work.
Remote work is all about cracking the code of time zones. This proved to be a fun challenge while traveling around Australia and New Zealand.
In east Australia, I worked from 4:30 am to 2 pm. I’m not a morning person, so waking up early and going to bed early was not easy, but it was necessary to make our daily catch up meeting at 5:30 am.
On the other hand, working in west Australia demanded another adaptation. I was able to work from 7 pm to 2 am, plus a few other hours during the day.
On top of working strange hours, I had to keep up my energy levels as well. Maintaining your energy levels helps keep your motivation and productivity at work healthy too.
One of the huge reasons that co-leading remotely is possible, even with the chaos of working in different time zones, is thanks to my counterpart, Mariana. As a team, we’re able to have more stability. We can both rely on each other if our remote locations aren’t cooperating or are making it difficult to get work done.
A constant balancing act
Even though working at specific times was difficult for me, the other side of that was getting to explore new places. When I wasn’t working, I spent time on the beach, went biking, toured around cities, met up with friends and went sight seeing.
I especially loved my seven-day road trip in Australia. My fiance and I would make camp at a new location every day while watching the sunset and see different parts of the country. Sure, I had connectivity issues at times, but I was still able to work. I want to do a similar trip next year, but for three months instead of seven days.
This balance is what was missing from my life when I worked in corporate.
Have you heard of The Minimalists? I listened to their weekly podcast religiously for a long time and it had a big impact on the way I lived my life.
At this point, I’ve said “no” to what I don’t need in life and only keep what is necessary.
I’ll never forget what I call my “surfer paradise” days, when I meditated in the morning, went to the beach to work out, hung out by the pool and read on my kindle. I developed myself and felt energized to start working in the afternoon or in the night.
Minimalism isn’t about having less. It doesn’t mean that you have to fit your whole life inside a backpack. It’s about being mindful and intentional about every little thing you have. Everything must have a purpose. The objects in your life, your experiences, it must all have an intention behind it.
Applying the minimalist mindset to work and leadership
Now, I’m able to take into consideration what are the most meaningful and impactful things I can do as a leader. As I’ve developed a better awareness about what’s meaningful and important, I’ve learned how to say no to things.
For a long time, I felt like I was on autopilot, but now I feel like my life is on track. The key is adapting your work to the lifestyle that’s best for you instead of adapting your lifestyle to your work.
Being a digital nomad isn’t the only way to have a creative and different work style.
Some people work only nine months of the year, and travel for three. Some work remotely from a coworking space around other startups and entrepreneurs.
The most important thing is to not force the corporate lifestyle if it’s making you miserable. I’m living proof that other options exist, even if you’re in a leading position.
Having a team that works entirely remotely brings challenges to the way we align our work and stay productive. We’re still on a learning curve. But we encourage trust and autonomy. Trust is a huge priority for us.
LeadWise’s diverse team represents many countries all over the globe, like Brazil, Germany, Portugal, the US and more.
We have come far as a remote team, and looking to the future we’re aiming to continue to clarify roles and responsibilities, master our flow of communication and make the most of our informal catch-ups and virtual happy hours. Like any company, remote or not, we constantly develop our team meetings and team alignment. But what makes it even more fun is the ongoing exploration of practices and tools to continue learning and keep improving the way we work, while we help others do the same.
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We believe that we need to change how work works. LeadWise is a home for business leaders to get practical tools and education to lead in today’s changing world. We do this by offering online courses, in-person workshops and software through an international network of changemakers. Join the movement at www.leadwise.co.