Life After Corporate: 2 Years Since I Said YES to Myself + What I’ve Learned

Life After Corporate: 2 Years Since I Said YES to Myself + What I’ve Learned

The week of Thanksgiving is always a special time of year to me, but not for the reasons you may think. Two years ago, the Wed before Thanksgiving was my final day of my corporate job. You would think that I would have been elated, but on my last day, I was called down to HR and interrogated about the work bully situation that I had discussed (again) during my exit interview. Once more, I was brought to tears, and all that I wanted to do was to finally leave so that I could work on becoming myself again, but I cried up until the very minute that I walked out that door.

 

The holidays that year were a whirlwind, I took the necessary steps to pursue legal action against the work bully, only for the principle of the matter, and I won my case in January 2016. Then in February 2016, I launched Style Collective. I finally started to swim to shore in the puddle of tears that I had been drowning in.

 

From this point on, I was a woman on a mission; I wanted to inspire the women in my generation to stand up for themselves, say no to work bullies, toxic leaders and the underemployment epidemic that is preventing so many of us from living our true destinies. Influencer marketing is an emergency industry, and it is one that provides a real platform for women to do what they love. I had this crazy idea that I could combine my love of leadership, teaching, and influencer marketing to help women live a life of passion purpose and authenticity.

 

The funny thing is that in my MBA program, I never once thought about becoming an entrepreneur. There was an entrepreneurship specialization that didn’t interest me, neither did the many amazing electives offered at UNH. It was a word that was foreign and uncomfortable for me; I told myself that I had no interest in starting my own business, especially after seeing my husband struggle in his from 2009-2014 and eventually walk away from it. Nope, it was just not for me!

 

So what changed my mindset? Three things:

 

  1. The work bully. As much as I talk about her, I am incredibly grateful that she showed me how I never wanted other women to be treated. She showed me the exact OPPOSITE type of person that I wanted to become. She was the anti-role model.
  2. The founding members of Style Collective: while building SC on the side for six months, I got to know the 65 founding members of our small Facebook group. These women showed me kindness, encouragement, and how we could all work together to find success. These women healed me, and I will be eternally grateful for their compassion.
  3. Tim Ferriss. I read his book Four Hour Work Week and started listening to his podcast, all thanks to my husband’s good friend who told us about Tim back in 2015. Reading his book and hearing interviews with other successful entrepreneurs lit this hunger and fire within me that I didn’t even know existed. I started to become OBSESSED with the idea of working for myself and climbing new levels with the constant challenges of being a business owner. I was ready to trade in 40 hours of mundane work for 80+ hours of exhilarating work that fueled my soul.

 

I found my mission, my people, and my calling. The emptiness and misery that I once felt every single day started to dissipate as I virtually surrounded myself with uplifting women and other’s success stories.

 

Success breeds more success.

 

So here I am two years later and man, have I changed and evolved. Life has a deeper meaning when you start to listen to the little voice in your head telling you to follow your dream. Suddenly, each day is exciting and holds a new adventure. My mind doesn’t stop thinking of all the endless possibilities of how I can create value for others and truly make a difference in someone’s life.

 

Since February 2016, Style Collective has grown from a one-woman show (hi!) to a team of seven talented, hard-working go-getters who genuinely believe in our mission and vision. I am incredibly grateful for my team members who show up every single day ready, eager to carry out the mission of Style Collective to the best of their ability while wearing many hats. I love their ideas, thirst, and dedication. They have helped me carry out a dream and reach new goals that I never knew were possible.

 

Style Collective has also gone from an idea in my head and a daydream in my notebook to a business that helps thousands of women and is on track to make a quarter of a million dollars by the end of the year.

 

I am not saying this to brag; I am saying this to show you that action creates results. All I did was show up – I found a problem, created a solution, told my story to inspire action, and connect with others on a deeper, personal level. I’ve encouraged thousands of women, including my team members, to take action in their own lives – and that feels prettying fucking badass. I am incredibly proud of the work that we do at SC and the lives we’ve been able to change. I’m also really proud to be responsible for my team members; I am now solely responsible for their careers, dreams, goals, and financial success. It’s a big responsibility that I am happy to take on, even if it means that sometimes I don’t pay myself so that I can invest in my business.

 

I am here to tell you that yes, YOU can follow your dreams and you NEED to follow your dreams. When I was at dinner with one of my neighbors two years ago who had just retired, I asked him what he would tell his younger self, and he said “Life is too short, you should do what you love and what makes you happy. No one is going to put ‘world’s best employee’ on your headstone.” Those words stuck with me because one day, we are all going to die and it’s important to ask yourself: what legacy am I leaving behind?

 

After listening to Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines, I was especially moved by the chapter in the book about your legacy. He goes through the exercise of using an online death calculator and reading two potential obituaries: one where he becomes estranged from his family, life’s work, never makes an impact on the world and dies alone. Another where he thrives, impacts people’s lives and leaves behind a legacy for the next generation. Who do you want to be? Do you want to leave behind something so beautiful that others remember you for your impact?

 

Brainstorm what it is that you are good at or what you like, ask others what you’re good at, take classes, read books, listen to podcasts and just explore all of the possibilities. Take the time to reflect on yourself, your goals, and what you would do if you could make a difference in just one person’s life. You are destined to be great, and we were all put on this earth to use our unique gifts and tell our stories to inspire action in others. Don’t settle. I am not “special” either; I am a regular person like you and everyone else on this planet. I am someone with a dream and a burning desire to create impact and change for women in my generation to live happily and fulfilled lives.

 

Find what you’re passionate about, surround yourself with people who inspire you, develop your skills, and make an action plan.

 

Stop thinking about making a move and instead, start coming up with the steps that you need to take to make it happen. Start with nights and weekends and use your full-time income to fund your side hustle. Network with people in your company and shadow their jobs if you’re interested in changing roles. Go back to school, get certified in something, or take an online class. The most important part of all of this is to take action, even if it’s one small thing a day. You don’t have to wait for the right moment because guess what? The right moment is NOW. Saying yes to myself was the best decision that I ever made and I want you to do the same!

 

Tell me: what is your goal? What are you working towards? What help do you need to get there? Use the comments to share your dreams and inspire someone else to go for their dream, too!

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  • Jen Pilchak

    Annie, you are such an inspiration! I can’t say enough how much Style Collective continues to empower and give me the tools to understand how to work my blog. Santa might need to bring me that Four Hour Work week book because right now I’m struggling to keep everything up (which is due to being sleep deprived thanks to my 10 month old who has sleep regressed the past few weeks- man I can’t WAIT for her to sleep solid again through the night!)
    While my blog is my outlet to keep me who I am outside of a Mom, 2018 is going to be my year! I will FINALLY start taking the steps to become a fitness instructor, only something I’ve daydreamed about for the last 10 years. While I still sorta feel that being in my mid-thirties I’m a little late to the fitness world I am not going to let that stop me for reaching for my goals. It’s crazy to me that once I’ve said outloud to my friends and family what I truly want, how supportive and full of encouragement. I already have girlfriends begging me to train them and a few who want to back me in a studio. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I hope that in 2 years I can look back and say “yes, I did it!”

  • Real_little_housewife_houston

    I commend you for standing up against the bully. Why, is it so hard to stand up, to speak up? I didn’t experience bullying until I was an adult and it was by adults. For whatever reason. Personalities in the work place are one of the most challenging hurdles to accomplish. Everyone is unique. You have inspired me to speak up in my life. We should be lifting eachother up. As for my goal, I’d like to grow my blog and instagram to give women affordable clothing options and to know that you don’t have to be perfect.