Karla Pound, 34 years old is a zoo keeper and expedition leader, taking guests on expeditions through remote parts of Australia at present. Having just finished the Kimberley season in remote north-western Australia, Karla has jumped across to Cape York and Arnhem Land before heading overseas at the end of the year.
In last weeks blog, we talked all about what it’s like to work as a naturalist guide, navigating seasonal contracts and tips for landing your dream job! This week we speak all about not just surviving but thriving whilst working in remote environments and maintaining work-life balance.
If you are looking for your daily dose of inspiration, tune into the podcast to hear our conversation – a motivational pep talk crossed with practical advice for landing your dream job with wildlife!
When asked about why it is so important to throw ourselves into the most remote and far-flung corners of this planet and take opportunities to live and work in remote locations, Karla’s response is simple:
For many of us, there is no better way to develop you as a person and cultivate your sense of self:
‘I’m wildly independent, a little bit too independent sometimes. Even after work, I’ll take a hike on my own , because it’s nice to spend time alone and not hear my voice interpreting nature’
Karla thinks these remote locations can be challenging for people if you’re not used to it, but so rewarding if you can just stick with it.
Usually the first two weeks is quite challenging for most people, because a lot of the time, you’re isolated without your support network of friends and family or communication tools like wifi.
But the first two weeks are usually the hardest so sticking with it at this critical time and giving yourself a chance to adapt and test it out is important!
And it’s not all time on your own – while working in remote placements you’ll often find yourself in a small community of people and make friendships for life as these jobs attract like-minded people, but from all different walks of life.
‘I’ve made lifelong friends from many of the remote places that I’ve worked, where we’re a small team of 10, living and working in each others pockets – eating together, exercising together’
Karla’s top advice for navigating these close spaces is don’t sweat the small stuff.
‘Not all personalities are gonna get along swimmingly, and that’s ok! Don’t let the little things bother you – just let it go and focus on the environment, the unique experience you’re there for!’
And when you’re feeling bothered, Karla suggests getting out and immersing yourself in nature:
‘Go for a hike, a kayak on your own within the bounds of safety – but you’ll find out so much about yourself and how capable you truly are once you are out there in these remote experiences!’
MAINTAINING WORK-LIFE BALANCE
When moving around between different roles and locations, it can be really challenging to maintain work-life balance. Seasonal work in particular is often full-steam, above and beyond: the exact opposite of work-life balance. We asked Karla how she sustains hers sense of self each day when immersed in seasonal work:
‘It certainly can be a challenging! Even though I’m very much a modern day gypsy – I crave change and move regularly, stimulated by changing environments, I am also such a routine person!’
Every morning, Karla’s up at 4AM to make a coffee, get on top of any life admin and either hit the gym or go for a run on the beach to get her body moving, before pausing for a moment to meditate – all done by 6AM.
‘I love having that regimented routine, which I know may seem like the flip side of what my whole life is about’
Another technique that helps Karla calm and focus her mind if ever she feels lost is to set some goals and create a vision board that aligns with where she wants to be:
Another tip is surrounding yourself with people who have similar reasons for working in that remote place as you do.
‘I think having the right group of people around is huge cuz it’s so easy to be influenced by others.
‘But if you ever feel lost (which I have been in that position many times throughout my career!), realign your goals,create a vision board, write your list, reset yourself and give yourself something to work towards – even if you’re noyt in the job you want’
‘Put things in place that help you feel like you’re still working towards that so you feel productive, even if it’s tiny little things, it’s all pushing you in the right direction!’
And when you’re isolated in a remote location – a lot of the time it’s extra important to choose the positive thoughts – don’t let yourself spiral. After all, some of the low moment and challenges can be your biggest lessons!
Just because you’re working you drema job doesn’t mean there won’t be low moments. Karla explains:
‘Everyone’s gonna have lows in their life but sometimes you need to pinch yourself -I’m a driven and positive person so I rarely have a bad day – and even if I do, I learn something from it.’
‘Don’t dwell on the little things. Take a step back, have a breath. Have a cup of tea or take a couple of days to look at all your options. Don’t jump to the first thing that comes in your mind. I’m really big on what’s gonna give you the best outcome and start to put things in motion to get that end result that you want.
YOU HAVE TO WANT IT
The road to working in this industry can be challenging and put you through your paces so it’s important to know it’s something you’re passionate about pursuing!
Karla’s top advice for navigating the journey is to be open to opportunities:
‘Whatever opportunity comes your way, just say yes. If you don’t like it, you never have to do it again. Don’t burn bridges. If you’re quitting a job or leaving town, do it in the right way but I promised you it will lead to more and more things.’
‘When I discovered naturalist guiding, I was doing a 6-week roadtrip with a bunch of friends, planning to move to Cairns and step into a dream job as a zoo supervisor which was a great step up in my career at the time. But I ended up doing a sunrise camel tour at Uluru and after speaking with the owner, he offered me a job on the spot as a camelier – and I couldn’t think of a reason to say no!’
KEEP IN TOUCH
Want to hear more from Karla? Tune into the podcast to hear our conversation. You can also follow her adventures on Instagram @karla_inthewild
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