Why Remote Working Became my First Step Towards Lifestyle Innovation
I’m a marketer in the tech industry. Seemingly every other day, I wake up to news of advancements with groundbreaking, transformative potential for business, culture, and society. At least that’s the way I’d sell it. Innovation is typically birthed from our inflated needs to improve experiences. People seek reduced effort, customizability, empowerment. We pretty much want to be lazier, but hey, it’s spawned some brilliant business in recent years.
More often than not, we succumb to tech-driven trends out of sheer popularity, not because it serves an area of our life that we’re seeking to transform. Sure, we’re evolving quickly, but it’s time we begin living more intentionally.
The principles of innovation can and should apply to our lifestyles.
We’re in a bit of a whirlwind — lashed at every turn with unsettling headlines of injustice, senseless violence, social regression and deepened uncertainty. Despite how restless, nervous or angered you may be, you work. We’re all just trying to juggle personal responsibilities, financial pressures, relationships, social commitments, and hobbies. We often carry the energies and perspectives from the components of our day-to-day lives into our work.
When work dominates our lives, we get tense. We forget to breathe. We drift.
We’re leading increasingly sedentary lives. We’re working harder (not necessarily smarter) than ever before. The lines between work and personal lives are becoming quite blurry for many, due to our over-connectedness via mobile devices. It’s reached the point where some companies incentivize their workforce to exercise. Even at companies with unlimited paid time off benefits, workers just don’t take advantage of it. We have endless discussions around work-life balance — it’s clear that we’re working too much. What’s worse: I’ve seen people apologizing for, or over-explaining responsibilities outside of work that may require them to leave early or take a couple of days off. Like, why? Why do we feel guilty for taking care of ourselves? What are we even working towards that’s worth sacrificing our well being?
We have a toxic consumption-driven work culture. At every rung of the ladder reached, we see an additional rung at the very top, and we exhaust ourselves on the climb, hastily redefining the “top.” Now, on this climb, our legs, arms, and minds may get stronger. Sure, we attain things along the way, but (I don’t mean to get all Socrates on you), are we more fulfilled? Are we happier? Are we living for our resumes or our eulogy? Our current work lifestyle is not sustainable. I realized that.
Constantly battling feelings of anxiousness and dissatisfaction, my work days were flying by, and I wasn’t taking time to appreciate any of the processes of adulting*. Most damagingly, I wasn’t taking time to appreciate my progress, as I constantly focused on the next step. As a result, nothing felt sufficient. I was drifting and losing perspective. Approaching this new year, it became apparent to me that if I didn’t set my eyes on a particular path, my journey would feel pointless. So, first, I did what any young woman would do on the verge of personal renewal, I got a new hairstyle. Then I established priorities, decided what I was willing to sacrifice for them, and I got to work on innovating my lifestyle.
Remote working became my first step towards lifestyle innovation. I decided to quit the traditional work style of sitting at a desk, with the bureaucracy, robotic, unwritten rules, political pettiness and nepotism that plagued the experience for many. I gave myself a chance to do things differently. After all, I’ve spent seven years developing this bad posture; I could always go back to the traditional corporate life, I told myself. I wanted to answer the “what is your day-to-day like?” question with new answers frequently. I wanted to stop glorifying being “slammed,” “swamped,” “booked up.” I wanted to take real breaks during the day, and not feel guilty for the optics of being unchained from my desk. I wanted to see and learn more of the United States, without having to take vacation days.
I wanted to have a new routine, a new normal, one that would allow me to enjoy the process and progress of work.
It’s been six months and counting. I feel more in control of my day. I have a terribly short attention span and need constant, new stimuli, new environments to drive inspiration and focus. So I’ve worked from libraries, co-working spaces, coffee shops, cafes, buses, planes, hotel lobbies, waterfronts. Wherever there is wifi and a seat, I can make my office for a few hours or the day. The ripped jeans in my closet are no longer collecting dust as they count down to weekends. I feel a bit more engaged with my work, and I have a renewed sense of purpose. And I am thoroughly excited by the fact that the remote workforce is in expansion, redefining work itself. I’ve come in contact with other remote workers whose decisions to seek this work structure have truly transformed their lives — deep introverts, rebellious creatives, women in male-dominant fields, people with certain disabilities, new parents, etc.
Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.
There are lifestyle innovation opportunities all around us, and I’d just encourage you to find what works best for your needs. Remote working just happened to address many of mine. All I know is, ain’t nobody got time to be dreading Mondays. So if you’re going to climb the ladder, just make sure it’s against the right wall.
*Adulting (Verb): attending to responsibilities such as overworking, paying tyrannical amounts in rent and student loans, “living the dream” (on Instagram), and confronting your fears and insecurities by constantly questioning if it’s too late for coffee or too early for alcohol.