Age and Nationality: 38, USA
Type of Professional: Entrepreneur
Job Title: Organizational Psychologist, New Modus LLC
Program: Remote Year Curie
When I first met Nora, she had been grinding to build her career since she was fourteen. She kept coming back to the feeling that there was more for her life than working in an office for 60-80 hours a week. Remote Year was an opportunity for her to finally prioritize taking care of herself. Even though it was clear how much she needed to do this for herself, there was an emotional journey that we worked through together before she felt comfortable leaving what she knew (guess that happens when you challenge the status quo...). We met up in San Francisco right before she departed for her trip and her anxiety had turned into bubbling excitement. Now, she’s become an integral part of a wonderful community and representing women of color as she travels around the world. Such a boss!
Internet search for long term travel programs
I was feeling unfulfilled in multiple areas of my life and I knew that travel always made me come alive so decided I wanted to travel for a year. Once I did some research, I found Remote Year and it was exactly what I needed.
I was personally ready and my family and friends were very supportive. I also spoke with a RY participant who shared some common personal challenges as me and that sealed my decision.
I decide to join remote year 3 weeks before RY Curie started. I had to leave my job, rent my home, put my furniture/car in storage, and see my family and friends AND prepare for a year of living abroad. I was prepared (financially) for my job to say no. Renting out my home was a bit stressful but I found a tenant 2 days before leaving for RY!!! Packing my home and putting everything in storage was exhausting, but it all worked out. The hardest part was saying bye to my family, friends, and co-workers so suddenly--I started feeling homesick once I was on my layover in New York en route to Lisbon as that was the first time since I committed to RY (3 weeks earlier) that I had a spare moment to think about this major decision I had just made.
I came on RY to travel, but the community (Curie participants, PL, and City Teams) have been the most valuable part of this journey.
I left my job so I could do remote year and initially was treating RY as a sabbatical year. I focused on reading all the books I never had time to, went to various business oriented grow sessions, meetings, etc.. within Curie and by month 2 was inspired to start my own consultancy. I spent the first 4 months thinking about what that might look like, meeting with industry connections, and got my first client in month 4 and officially filed/launched my LLC in month 9. I typically work from 10-6 Mon-Thur but flex my schedule depending on what tracks, travel, side trips etc...I have planned. I focus on making my work schedule fit my lifestyle.
There are so many! The overwhelming support and encouragement from my RY Curie peers, PL, and city teams has kept me going personally, professionally, and just given me so much perspective about our ability to change our life to what we want them to become.
I wouldn't relive any month--I would just S L O W down time overall so the year wouldn't go by as fast as it is!
It allowed me the mental space to reflect on my life and gave me the environment (countries) to experience life in a different way. Most importantly it gave me the people/community--that I honestly didn't know I needed (because I have strong community at home)--that gave me encouragement and support to become a better, healthier, happier version of myself.
It made me realize that I'm not my job title--I have professional passions and talents beyond any 'official' role and I can be that/do that anywhere and with anyone.
A couple of things: I am much healthier/stronger mentally and physically. I've learned that constant change helps you become more grounded in yourself--you meet yourself on a deeper level when you are surrounded by constant change. I've learned that we're all more alike than different, we just show up in different ways. And I learned that your environment (primary people, but also places) is incredibly important in developing yourself--development is both internal and external.
"Strong opinions, weakly held" is a quote by Bob Johansen (Institute for the Future). The premise is that when we deal with an uncertain future, the best way to move forward is to confidently act on what we know AND be humble enough to doubt it at the same time. So I would say be your authentic self, express your opinion, engage in dialogue and discourse with those different than you AND be willing to say I don't/didn't know, be open to feedback, and be open to changing your mind/mindset/perspective.
My current plan (key word, current :) Is to go home for a couple of months and then considering doing a citizen month before traveling a bit more in Africa--all while building out my consultancy.
RY was not perfect (just like life isn't perfect), but the pros outweigh the cons. The People (my fellow Curies, Josh our PL, and the phenomenal city teams) have made all the difference during this journey.
Nora Abdoun, PhD is an Organizational Psychologist and founder of New Modus, LLC, a global organizational consultancy focused on building cultural environments and systems that help people and organizations become the best--sustainable--versions of themselves.
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