Up until six months ago, Danielle Diamond had spent her professional life in two of the most demanding jobs a person can choose. She’s had her fair share of long hours in an office — from working at an investment bank out of college to practicing corporate law at a top law firm. As a New Yorker, working constantly felt like the norm. After all, her colleagues were pulling all-nighters.
But everything changed for Danielle this past August when she traded in her corporate suit for flip flops. Now, she travels the world and works remotely (yes... she is living the dream). We sat down with her to chat about her new life as a digital nomad, her wellness routine, and how she maintains balance while traveling abroad.
What exactly is a “digital nomad?”
A digital nomad is someone who is location-independent and uses technology to perform his/her job. There are tremendous resources around the world for remote workers, and with advances in technology, it’s becoming more and more possible to do any job remotely. For instance, I’m working on projects in website development, app development, and blockchain. I should also mention that most foreign cities now have co-working spaces, which provide reliable internet, office space, and a supportive community.
How did you transition from the corporate grind to traveling the world?
I started my career in investment banking, and more recently, I worked as a corporate attorney. In both roles, I had very little free time and wasn't exactly excited about going to work in the morning. In May 2017, my husband, Daniel, and I spent two weeks in Bali on vacation. While we were there, I had a pivotal realization: I was on autopilot. I was pursuing a career trajectory that society had labeled as “successful”— one that was based on goals that I set for myself over a decade ago.
While we were in Bali, I spent a few afternoons at a coworking space to catch up on work. The community of people working remotely was amazing. These people inspired me, and the gears in my head started moving. There were so many things that I wanted to do that I kept pushing off. This mentality of "I'll do ____ when I am older” or “I’ll do ___ when I have more money" is so pervasive in the United States. There were so many places I wanted to travel. Experiences I wanted to have. Businesses I wanted to start. If I didn't do it now, when would I? At that point, the decision was made. I left my job as an attorney, and Daniel and I set off for Southeast Asia.
Where are some of the places you’ve been? Share some highlights!
We started this adventure in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We spent a few days there sightseeing before heading to Chiang Mai, Thailand where we worked from PunSpace, a coworking space that is often thought of as the birthplace of the digital nomad movement. After that, we traveled to India to participate in a 10-day, silent Vipassana meditation retreat. After living in NYC for several years, we thought the retreat would be a good way to reset and develop a meditation practice. If you want to know more about our experience at Dhamma Giri, you can check out the articles Daniel and I wrote here. After 10 days of silence, we traveled through Rishikesh and New Delhi. We then lived in Koh Phangan, Thailand for a month where we were finally able to unpack our suitcases and settle in. We’re currently spending a few months in Bali, where this idea was conceived. It feels great to return to the source. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last seven months and have grown more in that time than in the last seven years. I'm not sure where this adventure will take us, but I’m enjoying the journey!
What is your morning routine?
Each morning, I keep myself from looking at my phone, news, or email for at least 30 minutes after waking up. During this time, I usually meditate anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. This "me" time sets up for a more balanced and calm day. Sometimes I’ll read a book or do a quick yoga practice. By taking this time for myself in the morning, I'm better equipped to deal with whatever the day has to throw at me. In a perfect world, Daniel and I will get breakfast before I jump into email or work. Right now, my go-to breakfast is a tropical fruit bowl with yogurt or a green smoothie. The fruit in Bali is just too good!
How do you stay feeling your best — especially while traveling?
Staying balanced on travel days is a major challenge. I’ve been a pescatarian/vegetarian for almost six years, and it’s nearly impossible to find healthy, vegetarian-friendly food in most airports or bus terminals. I always carry nuts (usually raw almonds) and dried fruit for a quick and healthy snack. Meditation also plays a huge part in keeping me balanced. Even if I don't have time to actually sit for meditation, focusing on my breath (even for just a few breaths) is calming and gives me perspective. Exercise is also a huge part of my life, whether it’s yoga, running, HIIT workouts, or dance (Ecstatic Dance in Bali is one of my favorite ways to release endorphins!).
How do you accomplish work-life balance?
Work-life balance is a big factor in my mental and emotional health. If I don't schedule enough time to complete my work, I feel anxious and overwhelmed. But, if I spend too much time working, I feel drained and lose energy. To stay energized, it’s important for me to dedicate space in my schedule each week to fun activities, like spending time with friends. And something that goes hand-in-hand with work-life balance is making sure that I take time for myself. Listening to my needs, in both mind and body, is key to staying happy and healthy. This balance has always been the biggest struggle for me, but I’m working on it!
“Wholesome” is one of our key values. What does that word mean to you?
Health, authenticity, and a feeling of completeness.
We love to hear our customer’s stories (like Danielle!) — and we’d love to hear more about YOU. If you’d like to share your story and how you stay balanced, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’d like to follow Danielle’s travels, you can find her on Instagram @diamondinthewind.