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Member Spotlight – Leaving the Office Behind

Every week we highlight a woman from the She Hit Refresh community who have courageously left a life of routine to start a life of travel. Today we feature three inspiring women each with a unique story of how they left the office behind for remote work. If you like to learn more about gaining skills for remote work or where to find remote work check out our latest pieces.

Leaving the Office Behind to Work Remotely


work remotely

Hi, I’m Julia and I’m a self-taught WordPress Developer. Four years ago I was bored with my dull desk job and decided to teach myself a new skill….that I could do from anywhere! I taught myself code, built a few websites and started my own business. Fast forward to now and I’m a digital nomad, traveling the Western US, living out of a RV full time.

My ‘story to ditching the desk’ probably started about 10 years ago when I met my husband. We met in Afghanistan. I worked for the Intelligence Community and he was in the military. I had a great job, but we were doing long distance (he’s British) across the pond, so I made the decision to leave my job and move to the UK. It was the best personal decision, but it really put a kink in my professional career. Not only had a left a job I loved, but I was married to a guy in the military, so we moved every 2 years….not ideal for anyone trying to move up the career ladder.

In the end, it was a combination of a dull desk job and constantly moving that motivated me to learn a skill that I could do from anywhere. I stumbled upon code and immediately fell in love. I’ll never forget the moment I typed in a few random characters on the keyboard and all of a sudden the website changed – it was magic and I was hooked!

I never intended to start my own business. To be honest, it wasn’t even something I considered. I’d planned on finding a remote full time job as a web developer. Little did I know how hard that was! Plus, a friend was starting his own business and he needed a website, so I offered to help. When it came time for payment, I had to set up something ‘official’, so that’s really how the business began.

It was tough at first because I didn’t have any clients and didn’t know how to find them. That was the hardest part about leaving full time employment, the uncertainty of the next paycheck. Fortunately I had a lot of support from my husband, so I pushed through the imposter syndrome and networked as much as possible.

Looking back now, I can see why so many people don’t give it a shot. It’s scary and unnerving. But, if you’ve got a skill that people will pay for, you’ve got a business model. The internet makes it so easy to market yourself and find clients, so you’re in a good position to make freelancing work!

If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend you do two things: 1) find a skill that you love and that you can do from anywhere; 2) find a tribe of like minded entrepreneurs. Those two things are literally what made my business successful. Now I’m in the very fortunate position to travel the US and work from the RV….all because I didn’t want to accept the dull desk job and because I discovered code!

You can find Julia on Facebook at Destination Nomad, on Instagram @destinationnomad and According to Blue, and on Twitter at According to Blue.


work remotely

Hot late-summer nights, the warm lightning in the narrow streets of the old town, the ease of life – I was 24 when I came to the fabulous city of Barcelona almost exactly 10 years ago, and instantly in love with it.

I had been headhunted by a big US e-commerce company with an office based in Barcelona, so I had just left my home country Germany to begin a very exciting new chapter.

For the first years I was madly in love with it- I was one of the people that felt sad on the way to the airport, always feeling most happy when touching back down in Barcelona. I learned Spanish, built a life, climbed the career ladder, saw international friends come and go.

But as the years went by, slowly but surely that strong feeling of “YES- this is soooo what I want“ faded and got replaced by “yeah, it’s good… I guess“. I noticed how I started envying other people’s excitement for Barcelona…where had MINE gone? At work I found myself impatiently sitting in meetings, feeling “this is a complete waste of my precious lifetime!“

What I didn’t get: “What’s wrong with me? – I have a great well-paid job, superb friends, live in a city that everyone loves. I should be happy?!“

I came to coaching in that moment of my life. Started with a workshop, loved it and decided to do the full coach, then to add another year for the certification. I worked with clients next to my full-time job, loved connecting with people in that way, despite the double challenge.

In my personal life I also started making changes: I found an amazing apartment that was just perfect for me, moved houses… but somehow I still felt stuck. I realized, I have to get out of this job, take some time for myself, find out what I want.

Much, much easier said than done, I was horrified. It took many sleepless nights before I took the decision to inform my boss I was considering leaving the company.

I learned that I didn’t have to quit but could take an unpaid sabbatical leave. I opted for 19 months off.

So out of a sudden I found myself with all this freedom.

And was paralyzed by it. Still stuck in Barcelona, now with the additional pressure of not having an income, knowing I probably wouldn’t want to go back to the corporate world, hence I had to find a resonant alternative. Balance this with giving myself the time to find out what that could actually be while also making most of the sabbatical and enjoying myself.

So there I was, anxious, sitting in my beautiful apartment, terrified to give up my last anchor of a “secure“ settled life.

I did little trips here and there, lived on a mountain in Switzerland for a month, visited friends and family and eventually took a pretty life-changing 8-week coaching course which made me realize that I wanted to pursue my passion for COACHING. In those 8 weeks I created a concept, defined who I wanted to work with, found a name and set up my website.  

And yet, I still hadn’t entirely unstuck myself- and knew I needed to go further.

I hired a new coach and things started moving: When I saw a yoga group from Barcelona host a retreat in Goa I was head over heels- I JUST REALLY WANTED TO GO. And I wanted to be free and stay in India as long as I wanted to and… go with the flow and see what happens!

So that’s when everything shifted: Exactly one month before the retreat started, I finally gave up my apartment, got myself a one-way ticket to India, sold stuff, put the rest into storage. And set off.

Wow- I was terrified and so excited at the same time! I arrived and just all the right things happened. I was open, immersed myself in so many different courses, I was like a sponge soaking up all the fresh input… and finally understood what had been “wrong with me“ those past years in Barcelona. I had been bored. I had outgrown that chapter. I had craved new input, growth, challenge- I’d been desperate to widen my horizon, to expand my perspective.

About a year ago I returned from India – being in a COMPLETELY different place compared to when I’d left four months earlier. And launched INTO THE WILD Coaching.

Providing the support and guidance that I would have needed so dearly years earlier. Helping others GET UNSTUCK AND CREATE THEIR VERSION OF A NEW EXCITING, FULLY RESONANT CHAPTER IN LIFE!

I haven’t felt a desire for a new base, but have been (digital) nomading since then.

You can find Freya on Facebook at Into The Wild Coaching, on Instagram @into.the.wild.one, and on her website at Into The Wild One.


work remotely

Exactly one year ago I was sitting in my office, unpinning years of professional memories off my bulletin board. While packing half of my lifetime into a box, I hugged tearful colleagues coming and going, wishing me the best of luck in my new career. At the end of the day, walking out of the organization I had worked with for more than 18 years, I felt lost. What had I done? I had resigned a few months earlier without really thinking about it too closely. What in the world was I going to do? For most of my adult life, I had been the “grants person” for my corporate division: who would I become now? What would define me?

As I drove home from the office for one last time, that feeling of loss and unfamiliarity slowly gave way to one of elation. At 38, I was finally free! Free to work on whatever I wanted, with whomever I wanted and from wherever in the world. I would have more time to spend with my two kids, while taking life at a slower pace and actually being able to enjoy my coffee in the morning.

But let me backtrack a second so you can get a clearer picture.

When I left my position as Grants Focal Point for West and Central Africa, working with an international organization based in Rome, Italy, I did so without too much hesitation. Although I loved my colleagues and the travelling my post called for, the desire to not spend most of my life behind the same desk was far greater. And that desire had been growing more intense over the past years, to the point where I no longer felt like myself in my working environment. I often asked myself if it was the fast-approaching, game-changing 40s that made me itch for something new and exciting. Or if I was simply bored with the usual “school-office-homework-dinner” routine. But no; it was just me. I had changed over the course of the years. And what made me feel alive as a 20-year old student was no longer enough to make me want to get up in the morning and join the race. What I wanted now was to just have the time and the freedom to discover a new, unplanned, adventurous way of life. I was fully aware that I would have to reinvent myself to a certain extent, both professionally and personally. And I was ready for the challenge.

So, when i resigned, I devised a simple back-up plan. I would use my experience in grant writing and agricultural development to try to help the world with my own hands. It seemed to play out easily in my head, but when I stopped to think about it, how would this career become reality in everyday life?

Of course, the first step involved embracing the remote working lifestyle – and writing grants and managing projects can be done from anywhere.

Then came the setting up a whole new business and rebranding myself as a consultant. And, to be honest with you, this is the part I am still working on to date. In fact, I’ve been recreating my networks, interacting with a multitude of people across the world, and even getting ripped off at times. I’ve had to use my savings to bridge the gap between a corporate paycheck and earning nothing at all. I’ve taken blogging courses to support my passion project, (Planting Goodness, which I now finally have time for), journalism classes to cover more sensitive policy areas and social media trainings. In the past 6 months, I’ve written articles and grant proposals from Mexico, Bali, Singapore, Spain, France, Australia, the US (where I’m from) and Italy (where I currently live). I’ve had wonderful moments and disappointing ones, but luckily my close friends and family have been of immense support by lending a helping hand.

Today, at nearly 40, as a single mom with two kids, I’m happy to say that hitting refresh was the best thing that I could have done. Sure, it comes with its challenges – but that is when you truly see what you are made of.

So, if you’re thinking of resetting your life in some way, go with your gut. Just count your savings beforehand – to make you sure you have enough to get by on during dry spells. Rely on family and friends “that fan your flames” – to have all-star support. Be patient – to allow your new life time to blossom. And, above all, have fun – to keep it all positive.

“When you let go of who you are, you become who you might be”. – Rumi

You can find Michelle on Facebook, LinkedIn, on her website Planting Goodness, and Instagram @plantinggoodness

If you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad but not sure where to start check out the training manuals and courses from our friends at Workationing. They are digital nomads and marketing experts that have “been there and done that” and now sharing their insight with you. 

Start with their Guide to Untethering Your Life, Remote Work Starter Kit, or Zero to Digital Nomad training series. *

*Disclosure: Please note that the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, She Hit Refresh will receive a commission if you decide to purchase the online course after clicking through the link. Please understand that She Hit Refresh recommends this product because we feel it is helpful and useful to our audience, not because of the small commission we make if you decide to buy something through the link. Please do not spend any money on the resources unless you feel you need it or that it will help you achieve your goals.

Member Spotlight highlights stories of inspiring women from our She Hit Refresh community. We hope that by sharing their stories of change and travel we can expose the unconventional paths that thousands of women 30 years and older have chosen.  There is no one way to live a life, just your way.

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