Recently, it seems like the dream for people in the workforce is to work remotely. I often hear friends of mine say “I wish I could work from home. A remote job would give me so much freedom to live and travel and experience what I have been missing out on in life.” This idea is not false, not at all, but, like many other things in life, it is incredibly romanticized. My remote internships have given me hundreds of opportunities and opened doors to my future I would have never considered before. However, it takes discipline and passion to keep yourself from falling off the wagon when you don’t have immediate pressure.
When I moved to Montreal and started school at McGill, I underestimated the amount of time I would need to dedicate to school. It’s been a little over a month since I started, and I feel as though I’m getting the hang of things, but I have a lot to catch up on before I’m in the clear. My internships and most of my life outside of school had to be put on hold so I could find my balance and figure out how to manage a new lifestyle, culture, and style of learning.
Now that I have a pattern of working and studying, I’m prepared to integrate remote work back into my schedule. Yesterday, I finally finished a rough draft of a project I was supposed to send to my boss months ago. The great thing about being an unpaid intern is that, because you’re doing free work, your boss can be pretty lenient, but that comes at an expense to your professionalism. You may not face the same kind of punishments as you would if you were being paid, but how does your image to your boss suffer? Will they ever hire you for a paid position if you can’t prove you’re abilities while the pressure is low?
I’m incredibly fortunate that I know both of my “bosses” fairly well, and they understand that moving to a new country and start at a new school is a huge change that will come with uncertainty. The past month hasn’t just been about settling into the increased workload, it’s been about figuring out how to grocery shop, how to manage my money, how to live with strangers, how to divide up housework, and how to take care of myself in the face of immense stress. But now, it’s time to recover.
When recovering from a setback while doing remote work, the hardest part of getting back will be your first day. Whenever you decide to start working at your normal pace again, it will be difficult. You will probably experience a lack of motivation, an inability to work at your full capacity, and a nagging in the back of your mind saying “why even start again? Why bother?”
The stress of beginning again will pass. It will take time and discipline, just like all aspects of remote work do, but during this time it is important to remember why you started your work. Is it something you’re passionate about? Does it give you the life you want? Are you allowed a flexible lifestyle because of how you work? Instead of focusing on the ways that starting again and working more inhibit you and stress you out, think of how they make your life easier and more enjoyable.
When you recover and as you do so over and over again, every time you have to pick yourself up will get easier and faster. You will have more reasons to start, more memories as to why you love what you do, and more experience getting back on your feet. Give yourself time and patience as you work your way into a new phase, but learn the difference between being gentle and making excuses. We all go through difficult periods, but what differentiates those who succeed on their own from those who can’t manage it is the ability to push forward and challenge yourself despite the discomfort you will face.
Photo credit to alternative.ei