10 years ago, I graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. After graduating, I worked for a company with questionable ethics where I traveled a lot and barely felt like myself. I went on to work for a company I loved and built a deep emotional attachment to, I made some of my best friends there, and I was willing to work all day and night because I cared so much about the mission and the program I was running. But a few years later I was fired over a disagreement with the CEO and I was devastated. After only a couple weeks of unemployment, I went to work for a company that expected me to work 24/7 with little to no appreciation or plan to ease my workload. I burned out fast, not even wanting to get out of bed.
I realized that from the moment I began graduate school to the moment I burned out, my physical and mental health were suffering. I attached my self-worth and passion for making a difference to companies instead of to my own dreams and purpose.
So about 5 years ago, I made the decision not to let my corporate job take over my life. As soon as I went to work for another company, I set hard boundaries for myself. As much as possible, I would not emotionally attach myself to the work or other people’s agendas. I would still do my job well, but I wouldn’t bring it home with me, mentally or physically. And I wouldn’t take any extra initiative to go above and beyond normal expectations.
This approach freed up SO much mental space for me. I started to volunteer, write, and make things again (things I did regularly before graduate school). I bought a home, had fun with interior design, and adopted a dog—going home every day at lunch to walk her. I had a full life outside of my 9 to 5 job.
With more time to be creative, Alison Rose Vintage was born on October 21, 2017—just a year after I set those boundaries. After I opened my shop, people would ask me if I planned to work on this business full-time. I would always say no because that wasn’t my intention starting out and I could have never afforded to live outside of Boston without my full-time salary.
I might have happily carried on with my corporate job and side hustle until retirement, but then in May 2020, my sister died unexpectedly at age 40. Even though we hadn’t lived near each other in years, I felt an immense sense of loneliness and need for even more purpose in my life (the pandemic didn’t help). I had heard “Life is short” many times, but it really hit me. I started to question everything—why was I living so far away from family? Why wasn’t I giving my business—a business that fills my heart every single day—my full attention? My mental health started to suffer again, I didn’t feel a lot of empathy and support from my company, and I dreaded eventually going back into an office.
I wondered what my sister would do in my situation. We were always opposite; she was unafraid of taking risks and worked full-time on her passion for music and DJ-ing while she let corporate jobs be her side hustles. I can almost hear her laughing at my dilemma saying, “WHO CARES, just quit your job and figure it out.”
So I channeled my sister's courage and traded my exorbitant Massachusetts rent for a house I bought with my parents in Tennessee. I became part of the “great resignation” and quit my corporate job 6 months ago to focus solely on this small business. Scary, I know... but I think we all deserve to do what is best for our mental and physical health, dedicating time to what makes us excited to wake up every morning.
I definitely don’t have it all figured out. I know if I’m not careful, that this beautiful business of mine could become all-consuming as well. But overall, I can say that I don’t miss my corporate job. Working for myself is liberating in so many ways and I love the direct connection I feel to my work and my customers now. You, my reader, energize and inspire me every day (THANK YOU!).
I hope that if you’ve been wanting to give something a try that you’ll take the leap if you can. Maybe it’s time to give your idea or new path your full attention and effort like me and see what happens. Or just take a few steps to emotionally detach yourself from things that do not deserve your heart and soul. If you need a little push or note of encouragement, reach out to me anytime.
Social media: @alisonrosevintage