As I write this post, I am preparing to start a new job this week. I am very excited to say I have been able to find a remote working job. The company, industry and what I will be doing is not that important. At least not to the context of this post and how this job represents a huge life change. Since accepting this role a couple weeks ago, I had been saying it was a new chapter, but when I reflect on it more, it’s more like starting a new book.
I say this is a new book because not only is it a new job, but it’s a complete lifestyle change and fulfills a need I didn’t even know that I had until I started traveling more in the teardrop. In my first year of camping I stayed at a campground outside of San Antonio and talked to a couple, around my age, that were living full-time, in a motorhome. When I asked how this was possible, I found out that he was working fully remote for a computer equipment company. Even though I knew of some people who worked from home, I never thought it would be a possibility for me because of what I thought working from home jobs were. The only things I knew of were independent businesses, a tutor, photographer, writer or editor, customer service rep answering the phone all day, or something like owning your own insurance or law firm. I didn’t really know there was the possibility of working a regular job, with salary and benefits, remotely. I was instantly drawn to the idea, but didn’t know how to make that transition. Although, as a whole, the pandemic has been horrible, the possibilities for remote work have been a highlight of the last year.
I know that the idea of working remotely is not for everyone. I also want to address some misconceptions that I have dealt with in my journey to find remote work. There is this idea that if people are searching for remote work, it’s because they really don’t want to work. That is just not the case and quite frankly, disrespectful to adult professionals. The people I know who have been able to make this transition, during the pandemic, have done so for a variety of reasons, but they are all very hard workers. In my case, that is not at all my motivation. My motivation is actually more so that I can work more effectively. I have learned through the years that I have a tendency to tilt towards being a workaholic very easily. This stems from the fact that I am a perfectionist. Anything that I do, I believe in doing right, and I also have an inability to relax and rest when I know things are undone. Working in a traditional office, this creates very destructive patterns. Including not taking breaks, working too many hours, not eating well and not getting enough physical activity, which have all been major issues for me. Although it sounds counterintuitive that working from my home would give me more balance, I found in the three months at the beginning of the pandemic when I was doing so, that it really did. By not having to get dressed up and sit in traffic to go to an office every day, I had more free time. I could walk Bella in the morning before I started working because I didn’t have to worry about fixing my hair or trying to put on makeup, while hot & sweaty. I had a full hour for lunch that I could use for strength training or yoga and again, didn’t matter if I got hot and sweaty. I had a full kitchen and refrigerator to make healthy snacks and meals, while at the same time having more, uninterrupted time to work. It was also easier to take breaks because I could really go do whatever I wanted to for a little while, give my mind a rest and then get back to work. I wasn’t having to rush and watch the clock and make sure that I left at a certain time, to beat traffic to get home and let Bella out
There is also a stereotype that if you want to work remotely you must not like people, or be antisocial. Like I said, I am at heart a perfectionist and believe in doing things the right way. But being in an office all day, there’s just not time for that. The basis of the traditional office set up is social and much of your day is spent interacting with others. On the face of this it doesn’t sound bad, but I am a person that for some reason people gravitate to, to ask for help and talk about their problems. I’m not complaining about this, I don’t have a problem with helping other people, but there’s a point in the workplace where it keeps you from being able to find a balance and be able to get your work done and take care of yourself. I have found that over the years, because there was so much interaction and giving of myself every day at work, I actually became very antisocial outside of work. This has led to not being able to have a balance between work and a personal life. And at the end of the day, getting laid off after 10 years showed that I can’t prioritize work. One of the biggest lessons I learned related to work in the last year is not to mistake people needing you, for valuing you. At the end of the day, once I was let go, the people I helped and given so much to, were not around anymore, but the people I have not had time for, were. So choosing to work remotely isn’t trying to be antisocial but prioritizing the most important people in my life that I want to socialize with, who will be there for me, even when I don’t have anything to offer them.
I think the biggest driver of people wanting to stay in remote working roles is that our perspective on life has change so much in the last year. I think the forced slowdown has shown so many people that there is more to life than work. For many of us, remote working jobs gave us the opportunity to see that. Also, with the pandemic and many people having it affect them personally, we have seen that being defined by your job title is not the most important thing in life. The most exciting part of this change is it it will allow me to travel more. Like I said at the beginning, I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on in life until I started traveling in the teardrop. Being able to go and see new things and meet new people fulfilled a need I didn’t know I had and have learned that I am my happiest and most motivated when I get to do this. I currently do not have plans to go full nomad, I still want to have my home and home base, but I am making plans to spend more time on the road. It will be a little bit different than my past travels because I will need to plan to be able to work during business hours, but when I don’t have a date I’m rushing to get home to, to be back in an office, it won’t matter how long it takes me to get somewhere and back. And that is the part of this new book that I am the most excited about.
So cheers to new starts and future travels!